Adele, P.J. Harvey, Elbow Lead U.K. Mercury Prize Shortlist

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Source: XL Records via Bloomberg

The cover of Adele's album "21." The British singer's 2011 CD follows her 2008 debut "19," with both named for her age when she was writing the songs.

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Source: XL Records via Bloomberg

The cover of Adele's album "21." The British singer's 2011 CD follows her 2008 debut "19," with both named for her age when she was writing the songs. Close

The cover of Adele's album "21." The British singer's 2011 CD follows her 2008 debut "19," with both named for her... Read More

Photographer: Seamus Murphy/RMP London via Bloomberg

P.J. Harvey in her garage before touring in support of her album "Let England Shake." The U.K. singer-songwriter has dates lined up in the U.S. and Europe. Close

P.J. Harvey in her garage before touring in support of her album "Let England Shake." The U.K. singer-songwriter has... Read More

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Everything Everything, a U.K. art-rock band, pose with a fox in a photoshoot for the album ``Man Alive.'' The CD includes the singles ``Photoshop Handsome'' and ``Schoolin.''' Close

Everything Everything, a U.K. art-rock band, pose with a fox in a photoshoot for the album ``Man Alive.'' The CD... Read More

Source: Universal Republic Records via Bloomberg

The cover art of the debut album by James Blake, who started out as a DJ in the London club scene. Blake was among winners of the BBC Sound of 2011 contest, along with the Vaccines and Clare Maguire. Close

The cover art of the debut album by James Blake, who started out as a DJ in the London club scene. Blake was among... Read More

Source: RMP London/Island Records via Bloomberg

The cover jacket of "Let England Shake" by U.K. singer P.J. Harvey. The CD is Harvey's eighth studio album. Close

The cover jacket of "Let England Shake" by U.K. singer P.J. Harvey. The CD is Harvey's eighth studio album.

Albums by Adele, P.J. Harvey and Elbow are on the 12-strong shortlist for the U.K.’s 2011 Barclaycard Mercury Prize announced today.

Also on the list are CDs by Anna Calvi, Everything Everything, James Blake and Tinie Tempah.

The Mercury Prize, awarded annually since 1992, is sponsored by Barclays Plc (BARC)’s Barclaycard. 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 ($32,240), 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 leading titles all face handicaps. Because the judges often avoid CDs by big sellers, Adele's “21” may not be a likely choice despite its critical acclaim. Both Elbow and P.J. Harvey have won the prize before, which may reduce their chances. Tinie Tempah may be helped by his success at the Brit awards. The Mercury winner will be announced on Sept. 6.

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 the xx, with Speech Debelle the year before and Elbow’s “The Seldom Seen Kid” (Fiction Records) in 2008. 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 betting odds from William Hill Plc):
Adele -- “21” (XL Records) 4/1
Anna Calvi -- “Anna Calvi” (Domino) 8/1
Elbow -- “Build A Rocket Boys!” (Fiction Records) 20/1
Everything Everything -- “Man Alive” (Geffen) 12/1
Ghostpoet -- “Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam” 
(Brownswood) 10/1
Gwilym Simcock -- “Good Days At Schloss Elmau” 
(Act Records) 20/1
James Blake -- “James Blake” (A&M Atlas) 8/1
Katy B -- “On A Mission” (Sony) 12/1
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins -- “Diamond Mine” 
(Domino Records) 20/1
Metronomy -- “The English Riviera” (Because Records) 8/1
PJ Harvey -- “Let England Shake” (Universal) 3/1
Tinie Tempah -- “Disc-Overy” (Parlophone) 12/1

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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