Created in 1997, the Mercury often recognizes fresh talent, rather than commercial success (mega-bands like Radiohead and Coldplay have lost out to relative unknowns like Badly Drawn Boy and Dizzee Rascal). The independent panel of judges, headed by rock academic Simon Frith, whittled the 180 nominees down to twelve finalists in July. Among those on the shortlist were Franz's fellow Scots Belle & Sebastian, teen soul singer Joss Stone, piano-and-drums rockers Keane, and hip-hop force (and two-time nominee) the Streets.
Franz Ferdinand have already written half of their second album, which they promise will boast "very fast beats." They plan to record following their U.S. tour, which kicks off Thursday in New York City.
"We don't really get stagnant," bassist Bob Hardy told Rolling Stone last week. "We never stop working."