Also on the list are CDs by Laura Marling, Paul Weller and Mumford & Sons.
The Mercury Prize, awarded annually since 1992, is now sponsored by Barclaycard, which has taken over from the Nationwide Building Society. The prize has often been given to new or non-commercial acts and pits different genres against one another, ranging from folk and jazz to hard rock. The winner receives 20,000 pounds ($30,370), although the boost from album sales can be worth much more.
The award focuses on musical quality. It doesn’t take into account album sales, media profile or live performances. The winner will be announced on Sept. 7.
Among acts boosted in the past by a Mercury Prize were rapper Dizzee Rascal (real name: Dylan Mills), who won in 2003 for “Boy in Da Corner,” and Badly Drawn Boy (a.k.a. Damon Gough), the 2000 winner for “The Hour of Bewilderbeast,” both on the independent XL Recordings label. Last year’s winner was Speech Debelle, with Elbow’s “The Seldom Seen Kid” (Fiction Records) the year before. The Klaxons won in 2007 with “Myths of the Near Future” (Polydor).
Previous hit albums that were nominated for the Mercury Prize but failed to win include Robbie Williams’s “Life Thru a Lens” in 1998, when the award went to “Bring It On” by Gomez, and “OK Computer” by Radiohead in 1997, beaten by Roni Size/Reprazent’s “New Forms.”
Shortlist (with odds from Bookmaker William Hill): Biffy Clyro, ``Only Revolutions.'' 9/1 Villagers, ``Becoming A Jackal.'' 12/1 Corinne Bailey Rae, ``The Sea.'' 7/1 Mumford & Sons, ``Sigh No More.'' 6/1 Paul Weller, ``Wake Up The Nation.'' 6/1 Wild Beasts, ``Two Dancers.'' 5/1 Kit Downes Trio, ``Golden.'' 12/1 Laura Marling, ``I Speak Because I Can.'' 7/1 Dizzee Rascal, ``Tongue N’ Cheek.'' 5/1 Foals, ``Total Life Forever.'' 9/1 I Am Kloot, ``Sky At Night.'' 11/1 The xx, ``xx.'' 5/2
(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)