Mercury Prize nominees see sales boost

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

  • Published
Media caption,

A rundown of the nominees for this year's Mercury Music Prize

The winner of the Mercury Prize will be announced on Thursday, but most of the nominees have already recorded a sales increase in the run-up to the event.

Even Ed Sheeran, whose album ÷ (Divide) is the year's biggest-seller, received a boost, with sales up by 4% since the shortlist was announced.

However, the star is an outsider for the prize, with bookmakers offering odds of 20/1 on an Ed Sheeran win.

Poet Kate Tempest and soul singer Sampha are the current favourites.

Tempest is the front-runner with her album Let Them Eat Chaos.

A compelling, and often angry, look at modern Britain, the album's stories all take place on one South London street.

Sampha's Process is a more intimate and meditative record, written as the singer processed his grief after his mother's death.

"The reaction I've got from people, and how people have said it helped them... I can't really ask for anything more," he told the BBC.

The full list of nominees is:

Jazz band Dinosaur, led by trumpeter Laura Jurd, have received the biggest profile boost as a result of the nomination.

Sales of their debut album are up by 38%, albeit from a low base, with total sales of just 1,607, according to Official Charts Company data.

Rapper J Hus received the most significant sales surge as a result of the prize, according to trade paper Music Week.

The 21-year-old's debut album, Common Sense, has shifted 18,000 copies in the six weeks since the shortlist was announced.

The nominees were chosen by a panel of judges that includes Marcus Mumford, Jessie Ware, Ella Eyre, Radio 1's Clara Amfo and jazz musician Jamie Cullum.

"We were only allowed to talk about positive things," said Mumford of the deliberations. "So I shut up quite a lot."

The winner is traditionally decided on the night - and last year's ceremony saw the judges split between David Bowie's swansong Blackstar and the eventual winner, Konnichiwa by Skepta.

"It went right down to the wire. We could not reach a consensus," said Q Magazine's editor-in-chief and Mercury Prize judge Phil Alexander.

"In the end we had to lay down the law ourselves, go back to our criteria and go: 'This is why this record should win.' I think it will be the same this year."

Skepta will perform at the 2017 Mercury Prize ceremony on Thursday night, as will all of this year's nominees except Ed Sheeran, who is on tour in the US.

The ceremony will be broadcast live at 21:00 BST on BBC Four and from 19:00 on BBC 6 Music - and you can follow all the action, from the red carpet to the winner's press conference, on BBC Music News LIVE from 17:00 BST.

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