In summary: The Mercury Music Prize recently announced its shortlist for 2017. Ed Sheeran is amongst the 12 nominated artists, a list which also features The xx, Stormzy, Sampha, Glass Animals and jazz instrumentalists Dinosaur (surely not a token nod as the Mercury Prize never, ever does that). The judges, on announcing the shortlist spoke of “delight in exploring musical possibilities” and refusing “to be pinned down by genre conventions”, presumably in justification of why a huge pop album from the biggest male pop star on the planet is on a list that usually snubs such commercial juggernauts.
Some people got upset. Anyone even vaguely connected to the music industry published an opinion piece. There were some arguments around diversity, predictability and notable omissions. Industry leaders muttered things about the great British talent on the shortlist.
Everyone was up in arms for five minutes but they then calmed down and realised that it was business as usual and that the Mercury was simply fulfilling its purpose of being “like a contest between an orange and a spaceship and a potted plant and a spoon” as Anohni memorably said in 2005 when Antony and the Johnsons won. You can see the full list here if you like.
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