Plan B tops Mercury Prize shortlist

Plan B and past nominee Richard Hawley are joint favourites to win the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize as the shortlist of 12 was announced for the highly-valued award.

Plan B tops Mercury Prize shortlist

Plan B and past nominee Richard Hawley are joint favourites to win the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize as the shortlist of 12 was announced for the highly-valued award.

Established acts such as The Maccabees and Field Music will also battle it out against lesser known names and emerging acts such as Django Django and Alt-J who have won critical acclaim.

Rapper Plan B – whose real name is Ben Drew – is the first artist to make the list for a soundtrack album, with Ill Manors, which accompanies the gritty film of the same name which he directed.

Hawley, at 45 the oldest artist on the shortlist, which was announced last night, was previously nominated in 2006 for Coles Corner and had been a hot contender, although he lost out to Arctic Monkeys.

When Monkeys frontman Alex Turner collected the prize for his album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, he announced: “Someone call 999 – Richard Hawley’s been robbed.”

The list fails to recognise notable commercial successes such as Coldplay and Florence + The Machine, as well as Emeli Sande who landed the Critics Choice award at the Brits and has had acclaim and huge sales following her performances at the Olympic ceremonies.

The nominees (with odds from bookmaker William Hill) are as follows:

:: Plan B – Ill Manors (4-1)

:: Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge (4-1)

:: Alt-J – An Awesome Wave (5-1)

:: Django Django – Django Django (5-1)

:: Jessie Ware – Devotion (7-1)

:: Maccabees – Given to the Wild (7-1)

:: Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough? (8-1)

:: Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again (8-1)

:: Ben Howard – Every Kingdom (8-1)

:: Sam Lee – Ground Of Its Own 10-1

:: Field Music – Plumb (10-1)

:: Roller Trio – Roller Trio (10-1)

Under a new deal with Channel 4, many of the shortlisted acts will be playing special shows before the November 1 awards ceremony.

Django Django and Alt-J have built a huge buzz around their debut albums earlier this year, as has fellow nominee Jessie Ware.

Field Music, featuring Sunderland brothers David and Peter Brewis, are nominated for their album, Plumb. As well as their releases together, the pair also each released albums of their own in 2008.

Michael Kiwanuka finds himself on the shortlist after being given a boost by topping the BBC’s Sound of 2012 list at the start of the year.

The nominations almost invariably include a nod to the worlds of jazz and folk and this year is no exception. Folk is represented by both Sam Lee and Ben Howard, while drum, guitar and sax act the Roller Trio fly the flag for jazz.

The prize gives a huge boost to sales for the victor as well as valuable publicity to all nominees.

Simon Frith, the chair of the judging panel, said the shortlist “showcases a wonderful variety of musical voices, emotions and ambitions”.

He went on: “There are eight debut albums on the list and four albums from more established artists.

“The sheer range of music here celebrates the abiding ability of British musicians to find new ways to explore traditional themes of love and loss while making an exhilarating soundtrack for life in 2012.”

Last year saw the first time a previous winner has taken the prize for a second time, when PJ Harvey picked up the award for her Let England Shake release, while other past winners have included Dizzee Rascal, Pulp and Klaxons.

The prize is open to UK and Irish acts who have released albums over the past year.

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