The coveted Mercury Prize will be announced on October 18, with the shortlist covering a broad range of genres that display many facets of British music’s brilliance. In lieu of the results being announced, our writers have chosen their winners.
Sharn Crouch: Harry Styles – Harry’s House
After Harry Styles’ 2022 release of Harry’s House, it is fair to say that it’s not the same ‘As It Was’. It takes the listener on a deeply personal emotional rollercoaster, and its power cannot be understated. The nod to the 70s sound found in ‘Daydreaming’, a sample of The Brothers Johnson‘s ‘Ain’t We Funkin’ Now’, encourages us to dance, whilst ‘Matilda’ breaks our hearts, providing reassurance to the relating listener. It is as if we truly are having a chat over a brew in Harry’s House. The album provides a safe space for people across the globe: for this, Harry deserves the Mercury prize.
Lucy Turner: Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under
Sam Fender brings a breath of fresh air to the indie-rock scene with Seventeen Going Under, really touching hearts through his accounts of growing up in Newcastle. Most people know Fender as a lyrical genius who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable or political, producing soaring singles backed with driving drum patterns and shiny guitars. However, behind the eponymous roaring crowd-pleaser ‘Seventeen Going Under’ Fender filters in emotional ballads such as ‘Poltergeists’ during the second half of this album, showing that he isn’t just your average indie singer. The rawness and humbleness of his lyrics throughout the album, enhanced by his strong Geordie accent, make this album one that’ll be remembered for decades. It’s a true contender for the Mercury Prize.
Alex Cooper: Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert should win the Mercury Prize, because it’s the most astonishing creative force in British music of the last 12 months. Little Simz flows effortlessly in such a broad range of styles over Inflo-produced beats, all equally as enchanting as the next. The defiant ‘Introvert’, the celebratory ‘Woman’, and the unapologetic back to back of ‘Point And Kill and Fear No Man’, doesn’t even scratch the surface of the genius of this record.
Jacob Ainsworth: Wet Leg – Wet Leg
Opening their self-titled album with the brutally brilliant couplet ‘I feel like someone has punched me in the guts / I kinda like it ‘cause it feels like being in love’, indie’s favourite breakout artist Wet Leg set the benchmark for a debut that is somehow both cynical and sentimental. Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, with their hushed vocals and wiry guitars, create a seductive world of staunchly feminine angst, crashing romances and Ballard-esque eroticism. Believe the hype – post punk has never felt so modern.
Dani Dodman: Joy Crookes – Skin
Released in October 2021, Joy Crookes’ debut album Skin boasts a smooth blend of soul, R&B, reggae, and jazz to mould a musical model of a South London summer – roots that the Lambeth-born singer deliberately tries to incorporate in her music. Fans of the likes of Amy Winehouse would love Crookes’ gravelly and commanding vocals that carry her lyrics’ messages of nostalgia, self-love, and desire for positive change.
Maddy Oxley: Nova Twins – Supernova
It’s refreshing to see an album like Nova Twins’ Supernova on the shortlist for this year’s mercury prize as a lot of incredible rock and metal records have been completely ignored by the judging panel in past years. To classify this album simply as rock through is perhaps a little deductive. There’s nu-metal influence there, but a lot of hip-hop simultaneously, with vocals largely reminiscent of Missy Elliot on some tracks. I’d love to see Supernova win the mercury prize this year as an indication that inventive rock and metal records are being taken seriously critically, and that in future years we’ll evolve past the need to regard artists like Machine Gun Kelly as the pinnacle of the genre.
Francesca Hall: Self Esteem – Prioritise Pleasure
Until last year, Self Esteem was a relatively niche name in pop music, having released her debut solo album Compliments Please in 2019. But in 2021, she catapulted into the mainstream with the release of ‘I Do This All The Time’, the career-defining first single off her second album Prioritise Pleasure. The record came soon after, quickly garnering critical acclaim for its frank lyrics, theatrical instrumentals, and unashamedly unique vision. Covering sexual autonomy, marriage, and ageing, Prioritise Pleasure is an assertion of indomitable female power, resilience, and unity, a refreshingly down-to-earth pop record in a genre saturated by superficiality.
The Mercury Prize will be broadcast on October 18 on BBC Four. The shortlist is here.