1. Sons of Kemet (9/2)
Injecting the latest developments of the London jazz scene into the rhythmical patterns of soca, Afrobeat and reggae, Sons of Kemet is a unique and highly enjoyable group. They also have an important political message: the nominated album’s title, Your Queen Is A Reptile, is a jab at the British Monarchy, and the group’s self-professed aim is to share those “ways of perception” that are “associated with histories of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.”
Despite being one of the two favorites of online sportsbook sites in the UK, Sons of Kemet will have to fight an uphill battle with the juries’ notorious dislike of jazz. Although jazz is not the most neglected genre in the history of the Mercury Prize (that genre would be metal—remember the controversy caused by the committee’s failure to nominate Bring Me The Horizon?), it is nevertheless a bad sign that no jazz artist has won the award since its foundation in 1992.
Even though Sons of Kemet is not a traditional jazz band, media outlets disagree on whether their music is Mercury-compatible. The website Get Into This calls the album the “token jazz offering” of the year, while The Guardian argues that “for the first time in years, British jazz feels central to culture,” which might pave the way for the first jazz win.
2. Florence & The Machine (13/2)
In the above-mentioned Guardian article, Laura Snapes notes that the award seems to reward financial success rather than musical innovation. The most popular band among this year’s nominees is definitely Florence & The Machine. Their latest album, High As Hope, has been met with positive reviews and is a very strong contender for the award.
The new record shows a matured band who stripped their songs of all excess, and the critics are praising Florence Welch for foregoing the well-known bombastic elements in favor of a more straightforward approach. The result of that process has been described as “quite possibly the most beautiful thing the band has ever released” and “near perfection.”
3. Nadine Shah (5/1)
If you like bands with political messages but feel discouraged from betting on Sons of Kemet to win the Mercury Prize because of the rumors about jazz albums being token nominations, check out Nadine Shah. Her album Holiday Destination is the bookies’ third favorite and is behind the first two by a very small margin.
Shah’s “darkly classy post-punk” songs criticize anti-immigration politics and are, according to the BBC, “a rallying cry for empathy and understanding.” The tracks have such a haunting effect that critics have pointed out that “few current artists make music with such a simmering edge.”
4. King Krule (9/2)
A joint favorite with Sons of Kemet on the best online betting sites in the United Kingdom but not going against the jury’s genre preferences, King Krule’s win looks more realistic. Mixing a number of musical genres, the record is as weird as the “half man with the body of a shark” evoked in one of their songs.
If the jury wants to award an innovative, experimental album, they will pick King Krule’s The OOZ. It might not be an easy listen, but Archy Marshall’s musical representation of “an iron will and a sickened heart working in tandem” deserves recognition.
5. Arctic Monkeys (8/1)
This is Arctic Monkeys’ fourth nomination, which is a feat in itself — only Radiohead has been nominated more times. Unlike them, however, Arctic Monkeys do not have bad Mercury Prize luck: they converted one nomination into a win in 2006 for their debut album. They may very well win for the second time.
The space lounge concept of their new album have surprised but pleased critics. Armed with a singer who can flip “with ease from a Bowie-style drawl to the falsetto and to a gruff murmur on the same song” and who writes funny and imaginative lyrics that read “like a short novel,” the sixth album of the band, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, has good chances at winning. It should arguably have shorter 2018 Mercury Prize betting odds.
Top 5 Mercury Prize Betting Odds
|Sons of Kemet||9/2|
|Florence & The Machine||13/2|
Bets can be placed right until the announcement of the award’s winner on Sep 20. If you haven’t seen your favorite band on our list, don’t wait with checking their odds out until September—the full list of groups can be found at Unibet Sportsbook.