This boxing match between genres is something that is simply unmissable, with the question that we need to ask, it’s on the tip of our tongues… Who would YOU vote for? Who is the panel going to vote for?
If you don’t know, The Hyundai Mercury Prize promotes the best of UK and Irish music and the artists who produce it. This is done through the huge celebration of the 12 ‘Albums of the Year’, recognising the growing pot of artistic achievement across an absolute mixture of music genres.
Sampha vs. The xx
The first contestants, Sampha, an unlikely star and The xx an indie rock dream with two contrasting genres. The xx with their new album I See You is a spectacular thread that is woven into an intricate, emotive album, selling 26,513 copies of the album within the first week of release! (Wow!) Fighting back, with Sampha’s album, Process, filled with exceptional vocals, it is nothing more than a tough fight. He also previously remixed The xx’s tune ‘Basic Space’, cue the fight! With collaborations featuring Drake and Kanye West, is this enough to knock out The XX?
Alt-J vs. Kate Tempest
Previously winning the Mercury Prize in 2012, Alt-J have won some serious awards in their time. Relaxer is nothing but relaxing, an adrenaline fueled album with infectiously catchy lyrics, can they win the Mercury Prize AGAIN? Since their 2012 Mercury Prize debut it can be argued that they are somewhat of an anomaly, will this prize diffuse those fears? Let Them Eat Chaos a relevant name for this contest, is Kate Tempest’s second solo album, filled with consummate storytelling and dramatized lyrics. With her already being shortlisted for a Mercury Prize nomination in 2014, is it finally time for her to reach the prize? Their upbeat tracks and poetic lyrics are hugely similar, sales from Alt-J might not be enough to knock out Kate Tempest, she’s back, and back with attitude.
Blossoms vs. The Big Moon
Let the fight for the Indie music scene commence, in the form of Blossoms and The Big Moon.
Blossoms self-titled album was a huge hit. “Charlemagne” went on to commercial success and became BBC Radio 1’s track of the day and was featured on Spotify’s ‘Spotlight on 2016’ list. The commercial success extended through to December where Charlemagne topped the Christmas vinyl chart and a sold-out tour. Whether the group can straddle the divide between indie cred and chart success remains to be seen, will the Mercury Prize catapult them even further into success? In the following weeks, the album sold fewer than 8,000 copies, the lowest weekly sale for a UK number one album in modern times.
Against this, is The Big Moon, their album, Love in the 4th Dimension, was recorded across 12 days so the band could go with their first instincts musically, in comparison to Blossoms, compiling songs from multiple EPs and putting them into an album. What they lack in comparative sales and hit singles, The Big Moon are rapidly rising. Not many bands own as much ambition as The Big Moon do, their attitude, coupled with powerful songs, catapults them into the stratosphere of the music industry. In a good way of course.
Stormzy vs. Ed Sheeran
This might just be the biggest competition to date. With chart topping albums, this is a very close call. Whether you are a Grime or Pop fan, you just HAVE to agree, the competition between these artists is huge.
At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 83, based on 14 reviews. Gang Signs and Prayer entered the UK Albums Chart at number one, with combined sales of 68,594 copies. It set British streaming records for the most first-week streams for a number one album in chart history, with 13.9 million streams, a close call with Sheeran. A colossal fact about this album is that Gang Signs & Prayer became the FIRST first grime album to chart at number one. Wow. With Skepta winning last years Mercury Prize, can Grime prevail again?
Sheeran’s third album, ÷ (‘divide’) debuted at number one in the United Kingdom, selling 672,000 in its first week, making it the fastest-selling album by a male artist. It also topped the charts in 14 countries, including the United States, Canada, and Australia. All the tracks on the album reached the top 20 of the UK Singles Chart in the week of the album’s release, due mainly to heavy streaming. I told you it was a close call, and my gosh, there is nothing like healthy competition.
J Hus vs. Loyle Carner
J Hus has an array of singles but nothing comes close to the success of his album Common Sense. It was praised for the blend of musical genres, a rich blend of styles, which most artists find it extremely hard to do. Will this fact swing the votes of the panel? The lead single, ‘Did You See’ peaked at number 9 so far on the UK Singles Chart, becoming J Hus’ highest-charting single, in contrast, Loyle Carner doesn’t reach this successful number in the charts, yes, but he makes up for it with a number of desirable collaborations and experience.
Next up, Loyle Carner. Yesterday’s Gone paints a perfect picture of universal acclaim, an extremely big competitor against J Hus. With him already having a Glastonbury performance under his belt, his success is competitive with J Hus’, they are both rising at an alarming rate. He went on tour and collaborated with award-winning poet and spoken-word artist Kate Tempest (another nominee) in late 2015. With a number of collaborations, is this a match to J Hus? Only the winner will tell.
Glass Animals vs Dinosaur
Finally! The last fight. An unlikely combination, Jazz vs Indie Rock.
How To Be a Human Being a curious name for an album, is the second studio album by Glass Animals. The album received acclaim for its ‘sense of wonder’, and ‘immediate impression’. From their last album, they already have toured an impressive 140 concerts, ranging from Europe, Australia and the United States. These shows show that they are widely loved by the population, a hard thing to consistently claim throughout their career. Can Dinosaur fight this? They sure as hell can.
Dinosaur is one of the most vital and creative new ensembles in Europe today. This makes them different, this makes them exciting and singles them out. Together, As One claimed an amazing 5-star review from The Guardian. The population seems to be excited about the possibilities of these two bands, another close call ahead, against two completely contrasting genres. Jazz fighting Indie. Don’t we all want to see that?
The acts are both popular as they are wonderful, incredibly diverse and full of differences. So, we can’t help but wonder who the winner will be. But, no matter who wins, it’s clear that they each have an impressive amount of musical talent that is something to be proud of and shouted from the rooftops. They’re all winners in their own right.