BAT FOR LASHES: 6/1
If there’s any justice in the world – and there famously isn’t – the 2009 Mercury Prize, awarded in London tonight, would go to Natasha ‘Bat For Lashes’ Khan. Her sophomore album Two Suns isn’t necessarily the best British album of the past year, but it is the best on this shortlist by a considerable margin. Patently more talented and interesting than Florence and La Roux, she’s not enjoyed anywhere near the same marketing push that they have; scooping the Mercury would give her the boost she richly deserves.
FRIENDLY FIRES: 9/1
The bookies don’t really fancy the St Albans trio, but we could envisage them pulling off an unlikely victory. Their latest single ‘Kiss of Life’ has revived interest in the band and their fine debut album, and there’s an overpowering industry buzz about them right now – suggesting someone out there knows something we don’t.
I mean, look at these guys. Are they for real? We would’ve thought it’s impossible to take them seriously, though NME, Q and legion idiots seem to do exactly that. Sure, they do a decent line in hoary pub-rock, but there’s really nothing going on here. Move along.
THE HORRORS: 6/1
The Horrors second album, Primary Colours, is undoubtedly a belter, but one questions whether something so baldly derivative-sounding is deserving of a prize like this. More to the point, we don’t really see the judges responding to its sky-high and unrelenting murk-factor.
LA ROUX: 10/1
Isn’t everyone bored of La Roux by now? Elly Jackson’s silly quiff and banshee wail have been rammed down our throats for what feels like an age, and the "push" continues. No one’s denying that ‘In For The Kill’ is a slinky little number, but the album really doesn’t stand up. That said, you can see it happening for her, can’t you?
LED BIB: 40/1
Until the Mercury shortlist was nominated we hadn’t even heard of Led Bib. Since then, we haven’t felt moved to find out a single goddamned thing about them. Literally fuck off.
LISA HANNIGAN: 10/1
As well as providing wanking material for middle-aged Mojo man, Hannigan is a "talented" young folkie. Unfortunately she’s boring, boring, boring – too boring even for the Mercury.
SWEET BILLY PILGRIM: 33/1
These guys look like fun, don’t they? Absolutely no chance. None.
FLORENCE & THE MACHINE: 3/1
Florence’s debut album Lungs, though not exactly a masterpiece, is better than the debut efforts of her fellow Hyped Girls of 2009, Little Boots and La Roux; moreover, people just seem to like her. This would be a very safe and uncontroversial choice of winner from the judges’ point of view, which is why she’s the out-and-out bookies’ favourite
SPEECH DEBELLE: 6/1
The token urban choice of 2009. A young, black, female rapper, Speech’s chances rest in the fact that she’s the antithesis of last year’s winner: the old white blokes who call themselves Elbow. If the judges are looking to prove the Prize’s breadth of vision, then this is who they’ll go for. Shame she’s not all that good.
Boasting by far the most retarded title of 2009, Kasabian’s "conceptual" West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum works as comedy, but not as music. If they won the Mercury this year, what little remains of the prize’s cultural significance and prestige would be instantly evaporated. The Leicester four-piece have promised to give the £20, 000 cash prize to charity if they win – don’t let this fool you, they’re still wankers.
THE INVISIBLE: 40/1
Matthew Herbert produced this lot’s album, but it’s still rubbish. Matthew Herbert also produced Micachu’s album, which is the very opposite of rubbish; that it’s not featured in this shortlist is an absolute fricking travesty.