Nominations revealed for the 2021 Mercury Prize

·4-min read

Wolf Alice have secured their third Mercury Prize nomination but face competition from newcomers Celeste and Arlo Parks.

The London indie band’s chart-topping third album Blue Weekend features among the 12-strong shortlist for the prestigious award.

Fronted by singer Ellie Rowsell, the quartet won the 2018 Mercury Prize with their second album Visions Of A Life, while their 2015 debut My Love Is Cool was also tapped.

Mercury Awards nominations announcement – London
Celeste (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Singer-songwriter PJ Harvey remains the only act to have won the Mercury Prize twice for 2001’s Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea and 2011’s Let England Shake.

The 12 records in the running for the award, which recognises the best British album of the year, were revealed at a launch hosted by BBC Music’s Huw Stephens and on BBC Radio 6 Music.

Brit Award-winning soul singer Celeste, 27, earned her first Mercury Prize nomination for her debut album Not Your Muse, which reached number one in January.

Mercury Awards nominations announcement – London
Arlo Parks (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Twenty-year-old Parks, meanwhile, is also nominated for her debut album, Collapsed In Sunbeams, which attracted widespread critical praise.

Laura Mvula also secures her third nomination with Pink Noise, for which she eschewed her classical influences in favour of 1980s soul and pop.

All three of her studio albums have been shortlisted for the Mercury Prize but she is yet to win.

The shortlist also sees Scottish post-rock group Mogwai score their first nomination, more than 25 years after they were founded in Glasgow.

Mercury Awards nominations announcement – London
Ghetts (Jonathan Brady/PA)

As The Love Continues, their 10th record, also earned them their first number one in February this year.

Their previous chart peak had come in 2017 when they reached number six with Every Country’s Sun.

Prior to that only one of their records had cracked the top 10.

Both post-rock band Black Country, New Road and jazz saxophonist Nubya Garcia both also earn nominations for their debut albums

Trinidad-born singer and rapper Berwyn’s Demotape/Vega also features among the nominees, after he claimed third place in the BBC Music Sound of 2021 poll.

Mercury Awards nominations announcement – London
Nubya Garcia (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The shortlist for the Hyundai Mercury Prize was narrowed down by a judging panel which this year included DJ Annie Mac, musician Jamie Cullum, songwriter Anna Calvi, broadcaster Danielle Perry, DJ Gemma Cairney and musician Hazel Wilde.

The judges said: “It is testament to the strength of British music that, during a year which saw musicians face the toughest challenges of their lives, so many remarkable albums came out nonetheless.

“There was an embarrassment of riches for this year’s Hyundai Mercury Prize judges to choose from, but the final 12 show how diverse, vibrant and far-reaching British music continues to be.

“Choosing one winner out of 12 albums that bring so much hope for the future will be a challenge indeed.”

Mercury Awards nominations announcement – London
Berwyn (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Speaking following the launch, host Stephens stressed the importance of the Mercury Prize in championing young talent.

He told the PA news agency it felt “fantastic to be in a room talking about albums and music after the terrible year we have had”

He added: “There are a lot of exciting new, young, vibrant artists on the list who don’t play by the rules, who make music because they have to and love making it – like Nubya Garcia, like Black Country, New Road, like Arlo Parks.

“A lot of the names will be new to a lot of people, even artists like Berwyn and Celeste possibly are still breaking through and need to continued to be shouted about.

“And that is what is great about the Mercuries is that it does that.

“It doesn’t just move on to the next big thing all the time.

“You see artists like Wolf Alice on the list who, compared to everyone else on the list, are like rock dinosaurs on their third album.”

Last year’s Mercury Prize was won by Michael Kiwanuka with his third album Kiwanuka, fending off competition from Stormzy, Laura Marling and Dua Lipa.

He is also a new addition to the judging panel.

The ceremony will take place on September 9 at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith.

It will feature live performances from many of the shortlisted artists.

Albums by British artists with a UK release date between July 18 2020 and July 16 2021 are eligible for the prize.

The Mercury Prize nominations in full:

Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams
Berwyn – Demotape/Vega
Black Country, New Road – For The First Time
Celeste – Not Your Muse
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
Ghetts – Conflict of Interest
Hannah Peel – Fir Wave
Laura Mvula – Pink Noise
Mogwai – As The Love Continues
Nubya Garcia – Source
Sault – Untitled (Rise)
Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

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