Villagers make Mercury shortlist


Dublin band Villagers have been included on the shortlist for this year's Mercury Prize.

Villagers became the first Irish band to be signed to the prestigious independent label Domino Records last year. Labelmates include Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and fellow Mercury Prize nominees Wild Beasts.

The band, who are led by Conor J O'Brien appeared on Later with Jools Holland in April and released their debut album Becoming a Jackal to critical acclaim the following month.

Becoming a Jackal went to number one in the album charts in Ireland and remains in the top 40 now.

Other bands included on this year's Mercury Prize include the hotly tipped The XX, Laura Marling, Mumford and Sons, Dizzee Rascal and Paul Weller.

The annual music award was established in 1992 as an alternative to the industry-dominated Brit Awards. Previous winners have included Primal Scream, PJ Harvey, Antony and the Johnsons and Elbow.

Other Irish acts to have been nominated for the Mercury Prize over the years include Van Morrison, U2, Therapy, Lisa Hannigan and Fionn Regan.

Although it is considered to be a prestigious award, the Mercury Prize has come in for criticism on a number of occasions.

In 1994 there was widespread dismay when the pop act M People was awarded the prize for Elegant Slumming over Blur's Parklife, Paul Weller's Wildwood , Pulp's His 'n' Hers and The Prodigy's Music for the Jilted Generation albums, all of which were considered to be stronger candidates.

Eyebrows were also raised in 2005 when Antony and the Johnsons were awarded the prize ahead of the Kaiser Chiefs, despite being based primarily in the United States.

There's also been criticism of the prize panel's tendency to favour outsider acts over more mainstream ones, with some previous winners, such as Talvin Singh and Roni Size, failing to capitalise after winning the prize.

Last year's prize winner Speech Debelle was responsible for the Mercury's worst-selling winner when Speech Therapy failed to record a rise in sales. Judges are under pressure this year to give the award to a popular choice.

The XX are 5/2 favourites to win the Mercury Prize, according to Ladbrokes. The London-based three-piece lead 4/1 chance Wild Beasts in the betting. Mumford and Sons, Foals and Laura Marling are all available at 7/1. The Villagers are 25/1 outsiders, according to Ladbrokes.

This year's winner will be announced on September 7th in London.

Mercury Prize 2010 shortlist

Biffy Clyro Only Revolutions (14th Floor)

Corinne Bailey Rae The Sea (EMI)

Dizzee Rascal Tongue N’ Cheek (Dirtee Stank)

Kit Downes Trio Golden (Basho)

Foals Total Life Forever (Transgressive)

I Am Kloot Sky At Night (Shepherd Moon/EMI)

Laura Marling I Speak Because I Can (Virgin)

Mumford And Sons Sigh No More (Island)

Paul Weller Wake Up The Nation (Island)

Villagers Becoming A Jackal (Domino)

Wild Beasts Two Dancers (Domino)

The XX xx (XL)