Screenshot 2023 09 06 at 18 10 57
06.09.2023, Words by Billy Ward

Mercury Prize Awards 2023: The favourites, dark horses and snubs

The ceremony takes place this Thursday from 9pm...

With the Mercury Prize Awards ceremony taking place later this week, we're rolling out our DMY guide series to give you an all-round overview of the prestigious event (including our nods for the award as well as recognising some of the albums that missed out on making the shortlist). 

On Thursday September 7 from 9pm on BBC Four, Lauren Laverne will host live coverage of this year’s Mercury Prize Awards Show from the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. 

The shortlist for 2023, which was announced back in July, comprises twelve albums which reflect the diverse nature of British and Irish music over the past year and cover a wide range of contemporary genres. Now in its 32nd year, a panel of esteemed judges come together yet again to decide on the best album released in the past year.

Mercury prize 2021 2000x1270

Who are the nominees for 2023?

  • Arctic Monkeys - The Car
  • Ezra Collective - Where I’m Meant to Be
  • Fred again... - Actual Life 3 (January 1 - September 9, 2022)
  • Jessie Ware - That! Feels Good!
  • J Hus - Beautiful And Brutal Yard
  • Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B
  • Lankum - False Lankum
  • Loyle Carner - hugo
  • Olivia Dean - Messy
  • RAYE - My 21st Century Blues
  • Shygirl - Nymph
  • Young Fathers - Heavy Heavy

Who will be performing at the Mercury Prize Awards 2023? 

This year’s live performances will include Ezra Collective, J Hus, Jessie Ware and Jockstrap.

Lankum, Loyle Carner, Olivia Dean, RAYE, Shygirl and Young Fathers will also share their musical talents with the audience.

Who are the favourites to win?

After the shortlist was announced in July, Loyle Carner soon emerged as bookies' favourite with 'hugo'. A deeply thought-provoking, introspective record reflecting on identity and more, the rapper is tipped to clinch the prize with odds of 4-1 on aggregate bookies website Oddschecker

Following closely behind, Scottish indie group Young Fathers are also looking like a strong choice with odds of 5-1 to win their second Mercury Prize. Their incredible album 'Heavy Heavy' is our no.1 tip for the award this year - and after bringing the record to life at Glastonbury earlier in summer on one of the biggest stages they've ever had - they might just do it again. 

Some of the other projects favoured by the bookies this year include Jockstrap’s debut LP ‘I Love You Jennifer B’ on 6-1 and Fred Again.. for ‘Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022)’, who has odds of 8-1.

Who are the dark horses?

Not being rated highly by the bookies isn't always the be-all and end-all - in 2016, no one stood close to David Bowie's 'Blackstar' in the days leading up to the ceremony but that didn't stop Skepta from pipping him to the post with his boundary-breaking record 'Konnichiwa'. 

Ezra Collective got the recognition they deserved after being included in the shortlist for this year's prize with their sophomore album 'Where I'm Meant To Be'. It would be massively unexpected if they managed to win the award on Thursday but defying the odds is what this UK jazz group are all about. 

After just headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, it may seem strange to put the Arctic Monkeys in the dark horse category, however, in this instance their own fame may be holding them back. Having 'super acts' on the list is great for publicity but so far the judges have declined to give the prize to an artist who needs neither the exposure nor the money. That being said, it's not impossible that the band's latest album 'The Car' could sneak into top spot. 

What albums were snubbed this year? 

Last year's Mercury Prize went to Little Simz for her fourth studio album ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert' - the same album that topped our 25 Best Albums of 2021 list. However this year, the North London rapper didn't make the cut at all. After releasing the surprise album 'NO THANK YOU' at the very end of 2022, Simz' latest album missed out on many of the end of year lists. Fans were hoping this Mercury Prize Awards would be an ideal opportunity to give the brilliant record the recognition it deserved. Sadly, that wasn't the case. 

With no token electronic album on this year's shortlist (other than Fred... Again!), many music fans were disappointed to see Daniel Avery miss out this year with his album 'Ultra Truth'. After working away on the fringes of the BBC Radio 6 for quite some time now, this year seemed like the perfect chance to push this extraordinary talent even further into the lime light. 

King Krule and fast-rising post-punk band bar italia are another two acts with dedicated fan bases who would've loved to see their favourite bands under the microscope on the biggest stage. After being nominated back in 2017 with 'The Ooz', King Krule's new record 'Space Heavy' is another magnificent body of work and deserves its praise. 

You might like
10 Best