Entering its 30th year, the nominations for the 2022 Mercury Prize have been announced. Previous winners include Skepta, Dave and, most recently, Arlo Parks. The Mercury Prize celebrates the artistic achievements of UK and Irish artists, nominating a variety of artist and genres in order to provide a snapshot of the year in music. This emphasis on artistic achievement separates the Mercury Prize from the Brit Awards which instead recognises commercial success. Additionally, the Mercury Prize aims to introduce a range of genres to a wider audience. Consequently, this enables a wider range of genres and artists to gain access to a broader listenership. It is this Prize which has the ability to emphatically elevate the career of less well-known names in the industry.
This year’s nominations are female-dominated, with women accounting for 58% of the nominees. This is actually down on previous years, with 2020 seeing 66% of nominees as female. With regards to ethnic diversity the prize has also faltered in comparison to previous years: this year only 33% of nominations are people of colour set against the high of 64% last year.
However, some progressive steps have been made this year. The Nova Twins are the first black rock act to be nominated for the prize. In their words, the Nova Twins are ‘proud to be opening doors for bands that are more diverse.’
One of only two returning nominees to the list, rapper Little Simz’s fourth album, ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’, tops the 2022 shortlist. This album is primarily centred on the intersection between family and artistic struggles. Critic Jenessa Williams wrote of this album as ‘upfront’ about the doubt that accompanies success. Alongside indie-duo Wet Leg, Little Simz is currently one of the favourites to win the award.
Themes of family, heritage and an exploration of black identity are continued in London-rapper Kojey Radical’s debut nominated album, ‘Reasons To Smile.’ Speaking in Ghanaian dialect Twi, his mother’s voice provides the first sounds of the album. Nearly a decade in the making, DIY have described this album as a ‘beaming victory lap.’
Sam Fender’s ‘Seventeen Going Under’ and Harry Styles’ ‘Harry’s House’, provide the chart-toppers of the twelve albums that have been nominated.
The judging panel, which includes Loyle Carner, Annie Mac and Anna Calvi, said that finalising a list of just twelve nominees was the difficult part. They stated that this provides ‘proof that British and Irish music thrives during unsettled periods in history.’
The winner of the Mercury Prize will be announced on the 8th September. The winner will take home both the accolade and £25,000.
Check out the Mercury Prize website for a full list of nominations.