Mercury Music Prize

Mercury Music Prize 2023: How to bet on it and who to back with 11/1 tip

  • Max Liu
  • 3:00 min read
Arctic Monkeys in concert
Arctic Monkeys are 25/1 to win the Mercury Music Prize

The Mercury Music Prize is exciting, unpredictable and a great way to enjoy a small stakes bet in the specials markets on Betfair. Here's how to go about it in 2023...

  • Small stakes and mid-market is way to go

  • Over 3rd of winners were debut albums

  • 11/112.00 shot looks a potential winner

It is difficult to predict the winner of the Mercury Music Prize but there are certain patterns and pointers that are worth bearing in mind if you are thinking about placing a bet on the UK and Ireland's premier award for pop.

Look at the middle of the market

The Mercury has been full of surprise winners over the years (Speech Debelle, Sampha, Young Fathers to name but three) so you only ever want to wager small stakes.

A few favourites have won in recent memory (Arlo Parks, Dave and further back The Xx and PJ Harvey) but you won't get rich backing them. It is best then to look to the middle of the market which is often where the winner comes from.

Debut albums dominate

The Mercury Music Prize is committed to championing new artists so it makes sense that 22 of its 31 winners have been debut albums. There are four debuts among the 12 albums on the shortlist this time.

When a non-debut wins - as happened last year when Little Simz (pictured below) triumphed with her fourth album - a debut tends to win the following year.

Little Simz.jpg

Since 2015, the prize has alternated between debut winners and non-debut winners. If that pattern continues this year then a debut album will win on Thursday.

Women artists on the rise

The last two Mercury winners have been women solo artists. But before anyone starts worrying about the fates of the poor, overlooked men, note that, prior to Arlo Parks in 2021, the prize had not gone to a woman solo artist since 2011 when PJ Harvey became the first two-time winner.

There is no reason to think that this year the judges will feel the need to break with the trend of the past two years and be reluctant to reward another woman artist.

Too famous by half?

The Mercury Music Prize tends not to go to uber-famous artists. Adele, Stormzy and Harry Styles (below) have all been in contention in the past decade. Having such figures on the list is great for publicity but so far the judges have declined to give it to an artist who needs neither the exposure nor the money.

Harry Styles 956.jpg

For that reason, we would swerve Arctic Monkeys at 25/126.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook (more on them in a moment) and the admittedly less famous Jessie Ware 9/110.00.

Second two-time winner unlikely

In 2023, there are two former-winners on the list: Young Fathers 4/15.00 and Arctic Monkeys. The odds indicate that the latter are unlikely winners. Since winning in 2006, they have been nominated four times and failed to win.

As for Young Fathers, the price is too short to appeal for what would be an unexpected second win. That said, it was a surprise to see them win in 2014 so maybe the Scottish trio will triumph again.

The trends point to...

Loyle Carner 11/43.75 is the favourite to win for his excellent third album Hugo. It's everything Carner is - amiable, angry, focused, unassuming and introspective - and would be a deserving winner.

Irish folk quartet Lankum are interesting at 6/17.00. Their fourth album, False Lankum, is the work of a band at the peak of their powers. It was a surprise to see them on the list but they are unquestionably there on merit and their momentum could take them all the way to winning.

But if we're going to bear in mind the trends and pick a debut from the middle of the market then there is a standout at the prices.

Raye's My 21st-Century Blues is a debut of range and maturity. Some may have been underwhelmed when it appeared earlier this year but her blend of RnB, rap and soul grows on you and anyone who has seen her live knows that Raye is brilliant performer with a huge voice, star quality and the kind of street cred that sets her apart from the more beige singers out there.

The album also has a compelling backstory after the 25-year-old had to battle her former record label to regain control of her music. Raye is a massive talent and, at 11/112.00, an appealing bet.

Back Raye @ 11/112.00

Bet now

Mercury Music Prize 2023 - Latest Odds

11/43.75 - Loyle Carner

4/15.00 - Young Fathers, Jockstrap

9/25.50 - Fred Again

6/17.00 - Lankum

8/19.00 - Olivia Dean

9/110.00 - Jessie Ware

11/112.00 - Raye

16/117.00 - J Hus

25/126.00 - Arctic Monkeys, Ezra Collective

30/131.00 - Shygirl

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