Tomorrow night we’ll find out the winner of the 2014 Barclaycard Mercury Prize for album of the year. As the betting suggests, it’s wide open and I could even give the 33/1 outsiders GoGo Penguin a chance.
There are a few punters with some very nice bets running. FKA Twigs were backed in from 33/1 and Kate Tempest was available at 50/1, so Ladbrokes will be hoping neither of those win. In terms of numbers of bets taken, Royal Blood have just about topped the list so far, closely followed by FKA Twigs and Kate Tempest. Anna Calvi has been the least popular choice of punters.
Having listened to most of these, there are four albums that I’m going to predict won’t win. The judges usually try to pick something that moves music forward and that is in some way musically representative of the year in which it was released. On that basis, I don’t fancy Jungle, Nick Mulvey or Royal Blood very much, which isn’t to say they aren’t good albums; I just don’t think they fit the bill. I would also be reasonably surprised if Damon Albarn won, as I think it would be a bit odd to give the kudos (and a £20k cheque) to somebody who doesn’t need it.
Looking back at the betting over the last ten years, four of the winners were either favourites or joint favourites with Ladbrokes on the day. The only huge surprise was actually last year, when the last price we had on James Blake was 33/1.