Stormzy has secured his second Mercury Prize nomination and will go head to head with artists including Dua Lipa, Laura Marling and Michael Kiwanuka.
The grime star and Glastonbury headliner’s second album, Heavy Is The Head, is among the 12-strong shortlist for the prestigious prize, after his chart-topping debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer, was nominated in 2017.
Lipa earned her first Mercury Prize nod for Future Nostalgia, her critically acclaimed and disco-influenced second album.
Speaking on Lauren Laverne’s BBC Radio 6 Music programme as the shortlist was announced, Lipa quipped that she thought she was not cool enough for the accolade.
“I’m so excited to have been shortlisted and for the recognition,” she said.
“It’s kind of surreal because maybe I just didn’t think I was cool enough.”
This year’s list featured a number of pop acts and a total of seven women or women-fronted acts.
North London singer-songwriter Kiwanuka is nominated for his self-titled third album, meaning all three of his studio albums have now made the Mercury Prize shortlist.
But so far he has not won the prize.
Kiwanuka told Laverne that, after nearly quitting music around the time of his second album, he had found “a fresh confidence”.
Synth-pop artist Georgia was shortlisted for her album Seeking Thrills, nearly three decades after her father, Leftfield co-founder Neil Barnes, made the shortlist with his group’s pioneering electronic 1995 album Leftism.
She said: “Thrilled to be included in this year’s shortlist. I so enjoyed making Seeking Thrills and seeing people’s reactions to it, especially during lockdown.
“I wanted Seeking Thrills to be a euphoric, uplifting and empowering record, in these times we all need this.”
Marling landed her fourth Mercury Prize nomination for Song For Our Daughter, while Kano got his second for Hoodies All Summer.
Recalling the album’s release, Marling said: “It came out three weeks into lockdown and it was a trip – it was quite a fun trip.
“This is a nice addition to the weird trip I have been on in the last few months, as we all have.”
Indie rock band Sports Team, who formed at Cambridge University, were the only act to secure a nomination with a debut album – Deep Down Happy.
Frontman Alex Rice said: “We heard about it a few nights ago so you are probably hearing it in my voice this morning how excited we got.”
He added: “I think the thing is it’s the only debut on the list and it sounds kind of scrappy and flawed and you hear the dynamic between all of us in it and I think that’s what people want from a debut album.”
Porridge Radio singer Dana Margolin, whose band made the list with Every Bad, revealed that her sister had shaved a rat into her head after losing a bet over whether the album would get a nod.
“About a month ago, my sister asked me if I thought we were going to be nominated and I said she could shave a rat into the back of my head if we were, so it’s really funny to me that we are shortlisted.”
Charli XCX’s album, How I’m Feeling Now, which she conceived and created during lockdown at her home in Los Angeles, also earned a nomination.
Recalling her creative process, she said: “I decided basically once quarantine began that I could not really sit still and I had to create something really for my own peace of mind and I decided I would make an album in a five-week period and really open up the entire process to my fans, to the internet, to anybody that wanted to be involved, so it was a real journey.”
Moses Boyd, Anna Meredith and Lanterns On The Lake all secured their first nominations.
The shortlist for the Hyundai Mercury Prize, which recognises the best British or Irish album of the year, was narrowed down by 12 judges including Anna Calvi, Annie Mac, Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, Jamie Cullum, Jorja Smith and Vice.com’s editorial director Tshepo Mokoena.
A statement from the judges said: “In these difficult and uncertain times the Hyundai Mercury Prize is proud to celebrate the remarkable power of music to inspire and exhilarate.
“The albums on the 2020 shortlist showcase a great diversity of sounds, styles, ambitions and experience.
“What these albums share is an irresistible urgency, a belief that their music matters more than ever.”
Last year’s Mercury Prize was won by rapper Dave for his album Psychodrama, fending off competition from nominees including Slowthai, The 1975, Little Simz and Foals.
Organisers say it is likely a live awards show will not happen in September as planned, but the winner will be announced on September 24.
The Mercury Prize nominations in full:
Anna Meredith – FIBS
Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Georgia – Seeking Thrills
Kano – Hoodies All Summer
Lanterns On the Lake – Spook The Herd
Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter
Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
Moses Boyd – Dark Matter
Porridge Radio – Every Bad
Sports Team – Deep Down Happy
Stormzy – Heavy Is The Head