Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Debut albums shine in Mercury Music Prize

Debut albums from Coldplay, Badly Drawn Boy, Doves, Helicopter Girl and MJ Cole join established acts RICHARD ASHCROFT and Leftfield on the 12-strong shortlist for this year's Technics Mercury Music Prize.

The shortlist, which was announced at lunch-time on Tuesday July 25 at a London press conference which was broadcast live on Radio 1, also includes albums by the little known folk singer Kathryn Williams, the British-Asian artist Nitin Sawhney, Death In Vegas and the Delgados. The list is completed by a classical work, Nicholas Maw's 'Violin Concerto'.

The shortlist was immediately declared by observers to be "the most wide-open in years", although the bookmakers William Hill have installed Richard Ashcroft's 'Alone With Everybody' as the favourite. The prize will be awarded in a televised ceremony at London's Grosvenor House on September 12.

The nominees for this year were drawn up by a ten-strong panel of judges chaired by the academic and writer Simon Frith which also included the composer David Arnold, Anne Dudley of Art of Noise, representatives of Radio 1 and MTV and music journalists Colin Irwin, Emma Warren of The Face and Nigel Williamson. More than 150 albums were submitted for the prize.

Last year's list was dominated by household names such as Manic Street Preachers, Blur, Stereophonics and The Chemical Brothers and apart from the jazz choice by the saxophonist Denys Baptiste, included no other debut album. The prize eventually went to Talvin Singh's 'OK'.

This year there were fewer 'big' acts releasing albums, although established artists whose albums failed to make the shortlist include Oasis, Pet Shop Boys, Supergrass, The Charlatans, David Bowie, Morcheeba, Paul Weller, The Corrs, Primal Scream and - surprisingly - 1998's winners Gomez.

The full shortlist is:
  • Badly Drawn Boy - 'The Hour Of Bewilderbeast' (XL)
  • Coldplay - 'Parachutes' (Parlophone)
  • Death In Vegas - 'The Contino Sessions' (Concrete)
  • The Delgados - 'The Great Eastern' (Chemikal Underground)
  • Doves - 'Lost Souls' (Heavenly)
  • Helicopter Girl - 'How To Steal The World' (Instant Karma)
  • Kathryn Williams - 'Little Black Numbers' (Caw Records)
  • Leftfield - 'Rhythm And Stealth' (Columbia)
  • MJ Cole - 'Sincere' (Talkin' Loud)
  • Nicholas Maw - 'Violin Concerto' (Sony)
  • Richard Ashcroft - 'Alone With Everybody' (Hut)
  • Nitin Sawhney - 'Beyond Skin' (Outcaste)