Mercury Prize shortlist announced

Odds for the Mercury Prize nominees are the "closest ever", but Plan B and Richard Hawley are the favourites.

Eight of the twelve nominated albums are debuts, but it is East London rapper Plan B’s third album and Sheffield singer Richard Hawley’s sixth that are the favourites to win this year’s Mercury Prize, according to bookmakers William Hill. Brighton-based band The Maccabees and Peter and David Brewis, the Sunderland brothers that make up Field Music, are the only other veterans to have albums included on this year’s shortlist.

Also nominated are indie favourites Alt-J, psychedelic quartet Django Django and the rather more pop-friendly Jessie Ware, as well as folk singer Sam Lee and a band that Radio 6 Music DJ Gilles Peterson has called the "new sound of UK jazz", Roller Trio. Acoustic singer-songwriters Ben Howard, Lianne La Havas and the lesser-known Michael Kiwanuka round off the shortlist, a nod to a year that has seen the arrival and subsequent flourishing of many talented new solo artists. Speculations that Kate Bush’s 50 Words for Snow or the comeback album from Dexys, One Day I’m Going To Soar, would be nominated were proven to be unfounded, to the disappointment of a few - but for a prize that has always attempted to push emerging artists over old favourites, it is hardly surprising. Cambridge-based Alt-J would be my pick to win with their gorgeous, unique strain of ‘folk-step’, but Plan B is probably the safest bet. Then again, when Richard Hawley lost out to the Arctic Monkeys in 2006, Alex Turner famously exclaimed that the singer had been "robbed". Perhaps Hawley will manage to scoop the 2012 prize with this second attempt.

The 2012 Albums of the Year (with odds from William Hill) are:

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave 5/1

Ben Howard – Every Kingdom 8/1

Django Django – Django Django 5/1

Field Music – Plumb 10/1

Jessie Ware – Devotion 7/1

Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough? 8/1

Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again 8/1

Plan B – Ill Manors 4/1

Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge 4/1

Roller Trio – Roller Trio 10/1

Sam Lee – Ground Of Its Own 10/1

The Maccabees – Given To The Wild 7/1

Could Richard Hawley win the Mercury Prize this time? Photo: Getty Images
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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.