This Thursday (19th September), the Hyundai Mercury Prize returns to London’s Eventim Apollo for its 2019 edition, where 12 of the best, most forward-thinking albums of the last year will battle it out for the coveted trophy.
In the running, we have Foals’ epic ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1’ that completely blew everyone out of the water when it landed back in March. The 1975 are also up for their third album ‘A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships’ - their best yet - that ushered in their ‘Music For Cars’ era with a bang.
There’s also debuts from Fontaines DC, slowthai, black midi, Dave and jazz collective SEED Ensemble. NAO’s concept sophomore record ‘Saturn’ has also been tipped, alongside Anna Calvi’s visceral third record ‘Hunter’ and Little Simz’s triumphant ‘GREY Area’.
With the ceremony only a day away, we’ve dug into just why this year’s Hyundai Mercury Prize is so exciting, and why you should tune in tomorrow.
Catch up with all our Hyundai Mercury Prize-related content here.
FIRST TIME’S A CHARM
One of the most brilliant things about the Hyundai Mercury Prize is that it’s never been about the old guard: this year especially, there’s a whole host of incredible debuts to choose from and celebrate. From the scathing bite of slowthai’s ‘Nothing Great About Britain’, to Dave’s chart-smashing first album ‘Psychodrama’, via the rallying call of Fontaines DC’s ‘Dogrel’, the shortlisted albums this year work to showcase just how incredible our new artists are right now.
LET’S GET POLITICAL
Let’s face it, in light of current political circumstances, there’s all sorts of inspiration flying about for musicians right now, and what’s so incredible about this year’s shortlist is that so many artists are tackling the hard issues. With IDLES’ incendiary ‘Joy as an Act Of Resistance’, we find the quintet exploring toxic masculinity, fear of the other and the divisive view of Brexit, while slowthai’s ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ comments on, quite literally, our current failings as a nation. Dave and Little Simz’ incredible records both tackle issues of identity, mental health, and the challenges of being a person of colour in the world right now, while Anna Calvi’s ‘Hunter’ sees her pushing the boundaries of gender politics, and consistently questioning the meaning of being a woman. It’s a shortlist that proves what a fearless set of British and Irish artists we have in our ranks right now.
THIRD TIME LUCKY
For some acts on the shortlist this year, this is not their first rodeo. Having already made quite the mark in their early careers, both Anna Calvi and Foals have been shortlisted for a third time(!) in 2019 - Anna’s for each of her records so far, Foals for ‘Total Life Forever’ and ‘Holy Fire’ - meaning they should at least have some idea of what could be coming their way on awards night.
IT’LL BE ALRIGHT ON THE NIGHT
When it comes to the award show itself, it’s all about the performances, and glancing across this shortlist, there’s loads who’re undoubtedly getting ready to put on a show. Having solidly been out on the road for the past year, Fontaines DC have spent much of their world tour refining their live set to an intense gut-punch, while IDLES’ Mark Bowen will have to have his best undercrackers at the ready for whatever they’re planning. slowthai’s another unpredictable performer, all maniacal smiles and antagonistic chanting. And who knows, maybe even Dave will bring out #AlexFromGlasto for his long-awaited encore?!
Brought to you as part of our media partnership with Hyundai.