Sheeran is nominated for the first time behind his massively successful ÷ LP, which became the fastest-selling pop album by a male artist in U.K. history earlier this year. The single “Shape of You” also spent 14 weeks at Number One in the U.K.
Sheeran is competing with Sampha, a former Drake and Kanye West collaborator who earned acclaim for his solo debut Process, and a pair of previous Mercury Prize winners: the xx (I See You) and Alt-J (Relaxer). On the other end of the musical spectrum, the Mercury Prize committee also picked the grime MC Stormzy (Gang Signs & Prayer), the rapper/singer J Hus (Common Sense) and the spoken-word poet Kate Tempest (Let Them Eat Chaos).
The panel of judges who came up with the shortlist included musicians Marcus Mumford, Jessie Ware, Ella Eyre and Jamie Callum along with Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo. Mumford told the BBC that during the nomination process, “We were only allowed to talk about positive things, so I shut up quite a lot.”
Eyre faced a similar problem. “I actually found that difficult because I’m quite cynical,” she said, though she acknowledged that there was some wisdom in a constructive approach: “I think it’s a good way to do it – focusing on the positives of an album. Initially.”
The Mercury Prize winner will be announced on September 14th. Last year, the grime star and frequent Drake collaborator Skepta won the Mercury Prize for Konnichiwa.
2017 Mercury Prize Nominees
Alt-J – Relaxer
Blossoms – Blossoms
Dinosaur – Together, As One
Ed Sheeran – ÷
Glass Animals – How To Be A Human Being
J Hus – Common Sense
Kate Tempest – Let The Eat Chaos
Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone
Sampha – Process
Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer
The Big Moon – Love In The 4th Dimension
The xx – I See You