Sunday 17 November 2019

Mercury Prize judge Ella Eyre defends Ed Sheeran inclusion on shortlist

The 12-strong list for the Hyundai Mercury Prize will see Ed Sheeran and Stormzy go head to head.

Ella Eyre was one of the judges on this year’s Mercury Prize panel (PA)
Ella Eyre was one of the judges on this year’s Mercury Prize panel (PA)

By Joe Nerssessian, Press Association Entertainment Reporter

Pop star Ella Eyre has defended Ed Sheeran’s inclusion on the Mercury Prize shortlist.

The singer, who served on the judging panel for this year’s award, labelled Sheeran’s Divide “one of the biggest albums of the year” and said he had earned his place on the 12-strong list.

Ella Eyre arriving for the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards in 2017 (PA Archive)

The Shape Of You singer earned his first nomination for the prize on Thursday as his third album was named along with 11 others on the shortlist for the prestigious prize.

Seven debut artists were included on the list including Stormzy for Gang Signs And Prayer, rapper J Hus and indie pop band Blossoms.

The xx and Alt-J will be hoping to collect their second Mercury crown after previous successes in 2010 and 2012 respectively while the inclusion of spoken word poet Kate Tempest’s Let Them Eat Chaos marks her second time on the shortlist.

On Sheeran’s inclusion, Eyre told the Press Association: “He had one of the biggest albums of the year you can’t deny that, you can’t deny there’s that many people who enjoy that album and I have to say you cannot deny that he can write a bloody good pop song.

“He is a very talented man and I think that album I really enjoyed and I think a lot of us did.”

Singer-songwriter Sampha, rapper Loyle Carner, jazz-inflected group Dinosaur and London four-piece The Big Moon are among the other nominees whose debut records are up for the prize.

Completing the shortlist are Glass Animals with their sophomore effort How To Be A Human Being.

Eyre said the eclectic albums on show were a “great example” of the healthy state of UK music.

Stormzy performs on the main stage at the TRNSMT festival in Glasgow (PA Archive)

She added:  “It (The Mercury Prize) gives a platform to a very diverse amount of artists and it’s not just about pop music, it’s not just about rock, it’s about everything and so to be honest it’s a hard process but it’s amazing you can get 12 standout albums from 200+ albums that we’ve had to listen to.

“I really enjoyed having to have an open mind and force myself to listen to albums which were not normally on my radar and I think from that I learned a lot more about myself, a lot more about myself as an artist and I’m in the process of writing my next album and I learned a lot.”

The winner will be announced at a ceremony on September 14 at the Eventim Apollo in London.

Last year the Hyundai Mercury Prize was won by grime artist Skepta.

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