The Mercury Prize, formerly called the Mercury Music Prize, is an annual music prize awarded for the best album released in the United Kingdom by a British or Irish act. It was created by Jon Webster and Robert Chandler in association with the British Phonographic Industry and British Association of Record Dealers in 1992 as an alternative to the Brit Awards. The prize was originally sponsored by Mercury Communications, a brand owned by Cable & Wireless, from which the prize gets its name. It was later sponsored by Technics (1998 to 2001), Panasonic (2002 and 2003), Nationwide Building Society (2004 to 2008) and Barclaycard (2009–14). The 2015 prize was sponsored by the BBC, while in 2016 it was announced that a three-year deal had been struck with Hyundai to sponsor the event.
Any album released by a British or Irish artist, or by a band where over 50% of the members are British or Irish, may be submitted for consideration by their record label. Twelve submitted albums are shortlisted for the prize, chosen based solely on their musical merit and irrespective of how popular or successful an album or act that has been submitted may have been in the previous calendar year. The shortlist is chosen by an independent panel of musicians, music presenters, music producers, music journalists, festival organisers, and other figures in the music industry in the UK and Ireland. The prize is open to all types of music, including pop, rock, folk, urban, grime, dance, jazz, blues, electronica and classical. Presentation of the awards usually takes place at an Awards Show in October, after the shortlist is announced at the Album of the Year Launch in September. It is often observed that bands whose albums are shortlisted, or win the prize, experience a large increase in album sales, particularly for lesser known acts. Each shortlisted artist receives a specially commissioned ‘Albums of the Year’ trophy at the Awards Show. Unlike some other music awards, the overall winner of the Mercury Prize also receives a cheque; in 2017, the prize money was £25,000. The winner also receives an additional winner’s trophy.
To date, PJ Harvey is the only artist to have won the award on more than one occasion (in 2001 and 2011). She was also the first female solo artist to receive the award. Alex Turner has received five nominations as a member of Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets, winning once. Thom Yorke has 6 nominations, 5 with Radiohead and one for The Eraser, but has never won.
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2021 – Collapsed in Sunbeams by Arlo Parks
2020 – Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka
2019 – Psychodrama by Dave
2018 – Visions of a Life by Wolf Alice
2017 – Process by Sampha
2016 – Konnichiwa by Skepta
2015 – At Least for Now by Benjamin Clementine
2014 – Dead by Young Fathers
2013 – Overgrown by James Blake
2012 – An Awesome Wave by alt-J
2011 – Let England Shake by P.J. Harvey
2010 – xx by The xx
2009 – Speech Therapy by Speech Debelle
2008 – The Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow
2007 – Myths of the Near Future by Klaxons
2006 – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not by Arctic Monkeys
2005 – I Am a Bird Now by Antony and the Johnsons
2004 – Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand
2003 – Boy in da Corner by Dizzee Rascal
2002 – A Little Deeper by Ms. Dynamite
2001 – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea by P.J. Harvey
2000 – The Hour of Bewilderbeast by Badly Drawn Boy
1999 – Ok by Talvin Singh
1998 – Bring It On by Gomez
1997 – New Forms by Roni Size & Reprazent
1996 – Different Class by Pulp
1995 – Dummy by Portishead
1994 – Elegant Slumming by M People
1993 – Suede by Suede
1992 – Screamadelica by Primal Scream
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