Why Damon Albarn deserves to be a Mercury Music Award winner

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When it comes to backing an act to win the Mercury Music Prize there is just one rule to follow: think abstract.

Celebrating the best British album of the year, as picked by a panel of experts, the Mercury Prize rarely goes to the favourite and has forged a wacky reputation as a result.

The reputation is so strong that Kate Tempest, currently leading Ladbrokes’ market for the award at 3/1, may as well not turn up to the ceremony should she be nominated.

For one man, however, being a household name may not count against him, as his history with the Mecury Prize is chequered enough to see him land the gong for the first time in his career.

Damon Albarn is 10/1 to win the award with his 2014 solo album, Everyday Robots. Should it be included in the September 10 nomination announcement, it would be the fourth time the former Britpop champion has been picked for the shortlist.

While that is a serious doff of the cap to the Whitechapel native’s melody-making ability, the fact that three nominations will have come with different artists could make the feat all the more appealing to the selection panel.

First receiving recognition with Blur in 1994, the band’s defeat to M People despite the wave of Britpop being at its height at the time caused a considerable stir.

The band’s second nominee, five years later, was also overlooked for Talvin Singh, who only made two more solo albums beyond the winning LP, OK.

The final Albarn nomination came with Gorillaz in 2001, but was later withdrawn at the band’s request after the singer said winning would be like “carrying a dead albatross round your neck for eternity.”

Having bitten off the hand that feeds him, many would assume Albarn’s chances of winning the award in future would be swallowed with it, but then again, this is no ordinary ceremony.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.