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Mercury Prize 2022: Predicting The Albums

The 12 albums nominated for the 2022 Mercury Prize with FREE NOW will be unveiled on Tuesday 26th July.

Mercury Prize Album Predictions 2022 by EJ Scanlan

As the Mercury Prize celebrates thirty years, we’re going to do it all over again… In this article, we’re going to predict the 12 albums that will be nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize 2022 with FREE NOW.

Now for quite a lot of you, this may be your first time hearing about this award, so let me explain all about it: The Mercury Prize is a single award given to the best album in British and Irish music, and I like to think of it as the Nobel Prize for music. Each year, a panel of musicians, music journalists and some of the biggest people in the music scene such as Stormzy, Annie Mac, Clara Amfo and Jeff Smith (head of music for BBC Radio 2 and 6Music) select 12 of the best albums released over the last twelve months of any musical genre. All 12 artists perform at a big ceremony held at London’s Eventim Apollo where a winner is decided.

Every album that’s nominated sees sales for albums skyrocket and the artist’s popularity and respect within the scene increase dramatically. Forget the BRIT Awards, I believe that the real way to make an impact on the industry is by winning (and being nominated) for the Mercury Prize. Previous winners include Michael Kiwanuka, PJ Harvey, Arctic Monkeys, Primal Scream, Wolf Alice, The xx and most recently, Arlo Parks, each of them has received a £25,000 prize for winning, which went on building new recording studios, creating new albums etc, and their win has helped catapult them to festival headline slots and overall supremacy within the music industry. This is a prize that can well and truly change an artist’s life, and everyone within the industry wants a piece of it.

Last year when we made our prediction list, from what we found, we were the only publication that was doing this, and this year, we hope to do the same thing. This is my tenth year following the Mercury’s and I seem to know what sort of albums they go for, so for this list, I put myself into the judging panellist’s position (Mercury organisers – this is my dream job so please consider me for future years!) and see what I would consider as Mercury worthy. To be considered, each album nominated must have been released between 17th July 2021 and 15th July 2022, and so these will be the specification for any albums I’m discussing today. Last year, I got 5 out of 12, but I’m never after the full house because the Mercury’s are big on showcasing new artists to a bigger audience, and every year, there’s been at least one artist that I’ve not been familiar with and I love listening to their music, and I want that to continue this year. 

I’ll start by giving some honourable mentions, albums that I think could be worth being nominated for a Mercury, but isn’t strong enough to be a part of my list.

“30” by Adele – Adele has won every award under the sun, as great as “30” is, I think it had enough recognition, but having said that, Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa have been previously nominated for their albums “Divide” and “Future Nostalgia” respectively, so who knows?

“Animal” by LUMP – LUMP are a band I admire so much, and Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay struck gold dust making this, but I believe that the 12 albums I’ve chosen are much stronger in comparison, but I would be beyond happy to see this up.

“CRAWLER” by IDLES – IDLES have crushed it over the last few years, and “CRAWLER” is their most unique album to date. The reason this isn’t on my list is that there’s an album similar to this which is much stronger in comparison.

“Harry’s House” by Harry Styles – Harry Styles is the man of the moment, and despite me not being a fan of Styles’ third outing, “Harry’s House” (sorry Harry stans!), you can’t deny the impact it’s had, and similarly to Adele’s “30”, we’ve seen stranger things happen, so maybe this could be a big surprise, but maybe not a welcome one in my opinion.

“Leave The Light On” by Pillow Queen – To a lot of people, Irish band, Pillow Queens are probably a band people have seen around for a while but have never really checked out, and to those people, they have really missed out, as their sophomore record “Leave The Light On” is a phenomenal indie record. This could very much be nominated and was only replaced with another record last minute. 

“Ribbon Around The Bomb” by Blossoms – Blossoms were first nominated for the Mercury in 2017 for their self-titled debut album, and have ever since not topped it, but their fourth record “Ribbon Around The Bomb” is the closest they’ve got to being different since their debut was released six years prior. It may not be strong enough for a nomination, but it is fantastic nevertheless.

“Seventeen Going Under” by Sam Fender – I believe that the Mercury’s were out of their minds when Fender’s debut album “Hypersonic Missiles” was snubbed of a nomination in 2020. Despite his debut being the better album, Fender’s follow-up, “Seventeen Going Under” has had attention from the BRIT Awards, so maybe this could be his year?

“Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky” by Porridge Radio – “Every Bad”, the sophomore album by Brighton indie band Porridge Radio was incredibly deserving of its nomination back in 2020, and despite the critical acclaim that “Waterslide…” has had, I personally don’t think it hits as hard as Porridge Radio’s proceeding record, which may result in it failing to secure a nomination.

“We’re All Alone In This Together” by Dave – Dave’s sensational debut album “Psychodrama” was the only album that could have possibly won the Mercury Prize in 2019, it’s the perfect grime record. His 2021 follow-up “We’re All Alone In This Together” is fantastic, but nothing compared to his predecessor. But I do believe that this is probably the most likely out of my honourable mentions to get a nomination, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was nominated. 

Honourable mentions… Done! Now let’s get on with it: Here are my predictions for what albums should be nominated for the 2022 Mercury Prize with FREE NOW…

“A Light for Attracting Attention” by The Smile

Since making their debut at last year’s virtual Glastonbury Festival, supergroup The Smile, made up of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood and Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner have had everyone talking about their sensational sound and got the world incredibly excited for their debut album, “A Light for Attracting Attention”, which has turned out to be one of my favourite albums of the year so far. The gorgeous soundscapes and vocals that power the record are sublime and wonderful to listen to, and it could give Thom Yorke his seventh Mercury nomination, making him the most nominated artist in Mercury Prize history. I can certainly see it happening…

“Dance Fever” by Florence + The Machine 

My second pick is my album of the year so far, and that’s “Dance Fever” by the three-time Mercury-nominated artist, Florence + The Machine. The album is a masterclass in how to make a sophisticated album, with some of the best songs I’ve heard in years. It’s perfectly produced and curated throughout, and this is my personal pick to take the prize home, but could it do it? I hope so, but I do believe that it’s very likely to be nominated. Album Review here.

“Gifted” by Koffee

Koffee first got everyone’s attention as at 19 years old she became the youngest artist and the first female musician to win the GRAMMY for Best Reggae Album for her debut EP, “Rapture” and by coming third in the 2021 Prospect Music Award. In March, she released her debut album “Gifted” which achieved critical acclaim mostly down to its songwriting. We haven’t seen a reggae album nominated for the Mercurys for an incredibly long time, so can Koffee be the artist that brings reggae back to the awards? Maybe so…

“The Overload” by Yard Act

The indie record to end all indie records, Leeds quartet Yard Act’s debut album, “The Overload” is everything you could ever want from a record and delivers so much more. Its sophisticated yet tongue-in-cheek lyrics and poetry against the band’s slick chemistry make this a record that I’m certain will be nominated for the prize. If you’re still unsure, take a look at the overwhelmingly positive reviews this record has had… or just listen to it.

“Prioritise Pleasure” by Self Esteem

When I first heard Self Esteem’s sophomore record, “Prioritise Pleasure”, I was impressed by its lyrics and themeing but not as a full record. Since I reviewed that album back in October, my feelings on the album have shifted, with me thinking I was a little cruel on the record at first. This album does have problems and isn’t perfect by any means, but the reason it’s on my list is because of its central themeing, its poetry and everything else. This is a very special record, regardless of its flaws and it’s a record that I will be very disappointed if it’s robbed of a nomination. Album Review here.

“Reason To Smile” by Kojey Radical

Kojey Radical’s debut album is one of the best hip-hop records of the year I think. Its sensational lyrics, powerful delivery from Radical and the transcendent production throughout the record, it’s fantastic throughout. The Mercury’s tend to favour debut albums, and this is certainly one of the strongest debuts of the last twelve months. 

“Screen Violence” by CHVRCHES

I still can’t believe Scottish synth-pop trio CHVRCHES haven’t been nominated for either of their previous three records, but their fourth record “Screen Violence” is what I would argue is their best record yet. Their more sophisticated sound, their wonderful production, everything about “Screen Violence” screams “ACCOLADE!”, so will the Mercury’s take the hint? I certainly hope so, as these guys would be incredibly deserving of a nomination.

“Skinty Fia” by Fontaines D.C.

Fontaines D.C. just came out of nowhere in 2019 when their phenomenal debut album “Dogrel” was released and gained the Irish five-piece their first Mercury nomination. When I thought they couldn’t do any better, they made “Skinty Fia”, and it’s an absolutely sublime record. It’s impactful, sounds perfect and it’s a pure celebration of Irish rock and Irish music full stop. I’ll be outraged if this gets snubbed.

“Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” by Little Simz

Every single person I’ve asked about this year’s Mercury’s has said one thing to me: “Little Simz has got to win this year…” and I very much agree. Simz’ fourth record “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” is perfect. It’s lyrically raw, it’s passionate, it’s bombastic yet intimate, and it’s one of the albums that people will keep going back to for many years. A nomination is practically guaranteed at this point. Whether it deserves a win or not, well, we’ll discuss that come September.

“to hell with it” by PinkPantheress

This time last year, for me to put an 18-minute long mixtape on a list discussing what are the best albums of the last twelve months would be completely laughable. But last year, The Mercury’s nominated “Demotape/Vega”, the debut mixtape by London rapper BERWYN, and then my whole perception was changed. Once the TikTok superstar PinkPantheress released her debut mixtape “to hell with it” last year, it was filled with tonnes of ideas that were executed perfectly, utilising a sound which we’ve never heard before within the industry. This mixtape is incredibly special, and so is this artist, and so for originality alone, this can even win the prize, but it’s certainly deserving of a nomination.

“Wet Leg” by Wet Leg

Since the explicitly titled Isle of Wight band, Wet Leg busted onto the scene last year with their debut single, “Chaise Longue”, I instantly knew there was something about them. From winning the 2022 Prospect Music Award to coming second on the BBC Sound of 2022 list, everyone knew this band meant business, and when their self-titled debut album was released in April this year, that potential was utilised expertly. With their distinctive sound and their tongue-in-cheek lyrics, they had everything and have made an indie record that will go down in history. Will the Mercurys agree? I would certainly hope so…

“Yellow” by Emma-Jean Thackray

I’ve been an avid supporter of Emma-Jean Thackray since I first heard her debut album, “Yellow” last year, and it’s absolutely fantastic. This makes a fantastic jazz record which is the perfect album to be nominated for the Mercury’s. This is by far the best UK jazz record of the year, so this has got to be nominated!

So that’s my list… and now it’s over to you. Who do you want to be nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize? Let me know in the comments below! 

Coming over the next couple of months, I’ll be looking back at the last 30 years of the Mercury Prize to celebrate its anniversary, ranking and dissecting this year’s 12 albums and of course, reviewing the award show as a whole. It’s gonna be one hot summer, and I can’t wait to go into it! 

The 12 albums nominated for the 2022 Mercury Prize with FREE NOW will be unveiled on Tuesday 26th July. The award show will be held at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London on Thursday 8th September and will be broadcast on the BBC.