The eighteenth Barclaycard Mercury Prize nominations were announced earlier today and it’s safe to say it caused a mixed reaction. Like all award shortlists, it’s impossible to please everybody.. People tend to look at previous Mercury Prize’s in rose tinted glasses, the alternative to the Brits is not so alternative anymore. That could be more to do with the mainstream becoming more accepting to the ‘alternative’, this down to a number of reasons, one being that the access of a wide variety of music on the internet has helped broaden our tastes. The shortlist is made up of the best albums released in the UK & Ireland of the past twelve months voted for by musicians and industry-types. Usually one or two unknown artists (Speech Debelle) are included in the shortlist, as well as a couple of big sellers (Arctic Monkeys). Over recent years the rest of list has been made up of NME favourites. In general the award has often gone to the outsider, or that is what everybody associates the Prize with. It has been going to the more influential over recent times, looking back to debut records by Franz Ferdinand, Klaxons, Dizzee Rascal and Arctic Monkeys who all arrived with a new style and created new movements. People forgot about these and instead look back to the likes of Anthony & The Johnsons and PJ Harvey who beat off the big-sellers. Many have called this years shortlist as ‘safe’ despite the wide variety of styles on offer. With The XX and Dizzee Rascal becoming the bookies favourites to collect the gong in September it seems too close to call. This years token unknown is Kill Downs Trio whilst the leaders of the current folk revival, Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling are big contenders (this is Marling’s second Mercury nominations which is some achievement for a girl just into her twenties). Along with The XX, Wild Beasts and Villagers have released records suitable for the criteria related to the Mercury’s. A couple of shocks are Foal’s second album, the bland Total Life Forever in comparison to their debut and Biffy Clyro’s fifth record, one that has been disregarded by many of their fans. Paul Weller, I Am Kloot and Corrine Bailey-Rae make up the rest of the list. The list seems pretty varied to me, yes, some of the artists have broke out into the mainstream a bit but mostly they are hardly household names. There are not many others that deserve a place on the list, These New Puritans’ Hidden, Sunny Side Up by Paolo Nutini and The First Days of Spring are the only ones I can think of. I would love ‘I Speak Because I Can’ by Laura Marling to win but I feel it will be between The XX and Wild Beasts.