September 6th will see the awarding of the 19th annual Mercury Music Prize, bestowed upon the individual performer or group from the UK or Ireland who released the best album of the preceding year. Nominees and winners are chosen by industry professionals, and acts from all genres of music are considered.
Though Wikipedia claims that the prize “has a reputation for being awarded to outside chances rather than the favourites,” true upset victories have proven in fact just about as rare in this competition as in any award show. In the past 10 years, only two stunners have gone down, with Ms. Dynamite beating out a tough field which included David Bowie in 2002 and the Klaxons taking the prize most had booked for Amy Winehouse in 2007.
Last year’s Mercury winners were The xx, who started at 7/2 odds at bookmakers. The point? It’s worth checking out the odds on the Mercury Music Prize at sportsbook websites – So let’s do so!
Below runs the list of candidates with odds in “outright winner” proposition bets averaged from UK-based bookmakers Paddy Power, William Hill, and Ladbrokes.
PJ Harvey, Let England Shake: 11/8
Anna Calvi, self-titled: 14/3
James Blake, self-titled: 6/1
Adele, 21: 20/3
Metronomy, The English Riviera: 9/1
Ghostpoet, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam: 28/3
Katy B, On A Mission: 50/3
King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, Diamond Mine: 22/1
Everything, Man Alive: 23/1
Tinie Tempah, Disc-Overy: 31/1
Elbow, Build a Rocket Boys!: 33/1
Gwilym Simcock: Good Days at Schloss Elmau: 50/1
Even if you believe in the shaky myth of the Mercury Music Prize darkhorse, punters and speculators can immediately eliminate the bottom, say, the bottom five. With the exception of Everything’s 16/1 at Paddy Power, all of these albums are getting 20/1 odds or longer at all three sportsbooks. Perhaps the somebody’s trying to tell you something. Remember, as LiveBetsDirect always says: Bookmakers have more to lose on a given proposition bet than anyone: The bookies *must* get the odds right in the name of profit!
At an aggregate 11/8, PJ Harvey naturally leads the pack; only the margin is surprising. The 2011 nod will mark her fourth nomination for the Mercury and she took the prize in 2001 for her “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.”
At least four years went into “Let England Shake,” and quite a few critics have billed the work from she who was once given the no. 1 spot in Q Magazine’s “100 Greatest Women in Rock Music” as one of her all-time best, and she was probably the odds-on favorite the millisecond after “Let England Shake” was first performed. Yes, Harvey is the safe bet, but not necessarily the most interesting.
Anna Calvi and James Blake will certainly get some play from the punters. And Calvi’s debut effort, with a little help from her big-league friends Brian Eno and Rob Ellis, is certainly a strong contender to pull off the upset. From a competitive standpoint, one should take pause at Calvi’s loss in the BBC “Sound of 2011” aggrandizement. On the other hand, any act which makes it big through YouTube (with the “Attic Sessions” videos; see directly below) is generally not to be trifled with.
The electronic stylings of Blake, meanwhile, were enough to win him second place in the aforementioned “Sound of 2011” poll; jumpstarted by the utterly infectious “Limit to Your Love,” “James Blake” the album was an international success that hit the top 40 in eight countries and the top 10 in six. His distinctive, standout style would surely seem to work well for him in contests such as this (again, refer to “Sounds of 2011”) and makes a good underdog to back.
Finally – and this is the one LiveBetsDirect really don’t get – Adele is down there at a cumulative 20/3 to win this “Mercury Music” thing resulting from a bunch of 6/1s and 7/1s. Now, is this just a case of bad timing on the powerful Adele’s part? According to this writer’s absolutely subjective experience, the songwriter-songstress dominated U.S., Spanish and Hungarian rock radio in 2011 with the songs of “21,” an awe-inspiring mixture of several American forms blending with her own signature style.
The relevant hometown statistics tell us that the holding of the no. 1 spot on the record charts in the U.K. for 11 weeks puts Adele in a class with Madonna and Bob Marley – unfortunately for her, she peaked in April and, you know, attention spans are so short and burnout so quick these damn days…
Grumpy old dude? Me? Maybe, but a happy one knowing people are still actually buying records somewhere.