By Kyle Anderson
July 19, 2011 at 04:56 PM EDT

Though plenty of music-related awards have lost their luster over the years (does anybody not have a Grammy at this point?), the annual Barclaycard Mercury Prize still retains its value.

The honor, given to the finest album from the U.K. and Ireland by a panel of British music experts, tends to get it right most of the time, and each of the dozen nominees are typically worthy of the title of “Album of the Year.”

This time around is no different: The 12 discs named as finalists are all pretty great, and they range from commercial juggernauts (Adele’s 21) to stuff you’re probably just discovering (Ghostpoet’s Peanut Butter and Melancholy Blues).

There are also debuts (Tinie Tempah’s Disc-Overy) and veteran efforts (PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake). There are even two entries from acts who have already won the award (Harvey won in 2001 for Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, and Elbow, nominated this year for Build a Rocket Boys!, took home the prize in 2008 for The Seldom Seen Kid).

The nominees (along with some helpful song samples) are below.

Adele, 21

Anna Calvi, Anna Calvi

Elbow, Build a Rocket Boys!

Everything Everything, Man Alive

Ghostpoet, Peanut Butter and Melancholy Blues

Gwilym Simcock, Good Days at Schloss Elmau

James Blake, James Blake

Katy B, On a Mission

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, Diamond Mine

Metronomy, The English Riviera

PJ Harvey, Let England Shake

Tinie Tempah, Disc-Overy

Who do you think should be this year’s winner? Clearly Adele has the success and exposure at her back, but the EW endorsement goes to Anna Calvi’s self-titled debut. It’s sparse, lovely, haunting and strange, and a Mercury victory could get her the American attention she deserves.


Review: Adele, 21

Review: Tinie Tempah, Disc-Overy