Where are the Mercury Prize winners now?
9 September 2021, 19:57
Is winning the Mercury the all-important boost to an artist's career, or a one-way ticket to obscurity? Here's how the previous winners have fared...
Some believe it's cursed, some think it's one of music most important awards in the business.
The Mercury Music Prize usually gives the winner a career boost that sets them on the path to a long and prosperous career. But for a select few, that night of triumph doesn't always translate into sales/
We take a look at the artists who have won the prize for Album Of The Year since the award's inception in 1992... and how they've got on since then.
1992: Primal Scream - Screamadelica
Screamadelica broke the band into the mainstream and they have achieved considerable commercial success since. They released their eleventh album, Chaosmosis in 2016 and issued a compilation in 2019 called Maximum Rock'n'Roll : The Singles. Frontman Bobby Gillespie collaborated with Jehnny Beth from Savages on the album Utopian Ashes in 2021.
1993: Suede - Suede
Following the success of their debut, Brett Anderson's glam revivalists achieved more critical acclaim with follow-up Dog Man Star in 1994 but the departure of guitarist Bernard Butler grabbed more attention. Follow-ups Coming Up and Head Music both went to number one but 2002's A New Morning didn’t do as well and the band broke up. They reformed in 2010 and release their eighth album, The Blue Hour, in 2018. As of summer 2021, the band are looking to start work on their ninth full-length outing.
1994: M-People - Elegant Slumming
The band's two singles after the Prize both got into the top ten. In 1994 and '95 the band won the BRIT Award for Best British Dance Act. The band’s next three albums reached the top ten, but their last album was in 1997 and singer Heather Small issued a solo LP in 2000. Despite the lack of new material, M People continue to tour and main man Mike Pickering has pursued a successful A&R career, working with the likes of Calvin Harris. A retrospective box set, Renaissance, was released in 2020.
1995: Portishead - Dummy
Their self-titled follow-up made number two in the chart but 1998’s Roseland NYC live album was not as successful. The band then went on hiatus between 1999 and 2005 before releasing Third in 2008. They have continued to tour and headlined the Other Stage at Glastonbury in 2013, while also contributing to soundtrack to the film High Rise. In 2016, Portishead were given an Ivor Novello Award for the Outstanding Contribution To British Music.
1996: Pulp - Different Class
Different Class came at the height of Pulp’s success. Lead singer Jarvis Cocker got a lot of attention in 1996 after he infamously invaded the stage during Michael Jackson’s performance. Follow-up albums got into the top ten – except a greatest hits released in 2002 which only got to #71. The band briefly reformed in 2011 for a hugely popular series of shows and released their first single in over a decade in January 2013, titled After You.
1997: Roni Size/Reprazent - New Forms
Roni Size continued to release albums after New Forms, including 2000’s In The Mode. In July 2021, he performed at the 20th anniversary edition of Exit festival in Serbia.
1998: Gomez - Bring It On
After winning a Mercury Prize the band went on to win both NME and Q Awards and were nominated for a BRIT. Follow up Liquid Skin is the band’s most successful so far – reaching number two in the charts but their last two offerings have failed to get into the Top 40. Most of the band have released solo albums, with singer Ben Ottewell issuing A Man Apart in 2017.
1999: Talvin Singh - OK
2001’s follow up Ha only reached number 57 in the UK album charts, but in 2010, Singh won a UK Asian Music Award for Commitment To Scene. He worked with Madonna on her album Music in 2000 and was awarded an OBE in 2014.
2001: PJ Harvey - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
PJ was nominated twice before winning in 2001 and has released four studio albums since then, with 2016’s The Hope Six Demolition Project topping the UK album charts. She’ll be back in 2011 (see below).
2000: Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour Of Bewilderbeast
The Hour Of Bewilderbeast is considered Damon Gough’s best work, selling around 300,000 copies. Since then he recorded the soundtrack to film About A Boy and his third album Have You Fed the Fish? got mixed reactions. Gough appeared on Celebrity Mastermind in 2015, answering questions on Bruce Springsteen. His latest album is Banana Skin Shoes, released in May 2020.
2002: Ms. Dynamite - A Little Deeper
Judgement Days, the follow up to her Mercury-winning debut only reached number 43 in the charts. After taking a break from music in 2006, she returned in 2011 with a new single, Neva Soft. 2018 saw Ms. Dynamite - whose real name is Niomi McLean-Daley - awarded with an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
2003: Dizzee Rascal - Boy In Da Corner
Dizzee’s follow-up albums Showtime, Maths + English and Tongue 'n Cheek have all been critically acclaimed. His latest album has now gone platinum – selling more than 300,000 copies. He was nominated again for 2011's Prize, but lost out to The xx. He's recently been seen in TV ads for the bookmakers Ladbrokes, but a new album, E3 AF, is came out in October 2020.
2004: Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
The album got to number 3 when first released. Follow up You Could Have it So Much Better came out in October 2005 and was the band’s first number 1 album. Their album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand although getting a good response did not get the critical acclaim of their debut and only reached number 2 in the UK. Their fifth album, Always Ascending, was released in 2018.
2005: Antony And The Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
After winning in 2005 I Am A Bird Now went from number 135 to 16 in a week – the biggest jump in the history of the Prize. Follow up album The Crying Light – released in 2009 – only reached number 18 in the UK. The band went on hiatus in 2015 and Antony, now known as Anohni, released an album called HOPELESSNESS in 2016, which was nominated for that year's Mercury. She became the second openly transgender person to be nominated for an Academy Award - the track Manta Ray was given a nod for Best Original Song, which appeared in the film Racing Extinction.
2006: Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
The album was already the fastest selling debut album in chart history by the time of the Mercury win. The band’s follow up Favourite Worst Nightmare also charted at number 1. Their latest epic, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, was nominated for the 2018 prize.
2007: Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future
Myths Of The Near Future charted at number 2 in the charts and in 2007 sold 274,000 copies. The trio released follow up Surfing the Void in August 2010. It’s reported parts of it had to be re-recorded after the band’s label said it was too experimental. It got generally positive reviews but peaked at number 10 in the charts. 2014's Love Frequency barely scraped into the Top 40 and has been their final release to date.
2008: Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
The Bury band sold 300,000 albums in the two months after their win. The Seldom Seen Kid was the band’s highest charting album to date – getting to number 5 in the UK. Guy Garvey and co covered The Beatles for the 2017 John Lewis TV ad and released their eighth studio album Giants Of All Sizes in 2019.
2009: Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy
Speech Therapy had the worst ever chart showing by a Mercury winner. She left her label Big Dada two months later – blaming them for the poor sales, but returned for her 2011 album Freedom Of Speech. Her long-awaited third album, Tantil Before I Breathe, was released in March 2017.
2010: The xx - XX
After their triumph at the Mercurys, the South London trio went on to be nominated for Best British Album, Best British Breakthrough and Best British Band at the BRIT Awards in 2011... but didn't win a thing. They returned in 2012 with the follow-up, Coexist and their third album, I See You, was nominated for the 2017 Mercury. In 2020, Romy Madley Croft appeared on Jehnny Beth's debut solo album To Love Is To Live and announced she was working on a solo album.
2011: PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Polly Jean made history as the first person to win the Mercury TWICE. Unlike 2001, when she was grounded by the events of 9/11, Peej got to go to the ceremony this time around. She was awarded an MBE in 2013 and in 2019 released a soundtrack for the play All About Eve. Harvey continues to be one of the most respected musicians in Britain today.
2012: Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
The quirky, experimental quartet from Leeds released their second album This Is All Yours in 2014 and their third, Relaxer, was nominated for the 2017 Mercury Prize.
2014: James Blake - Overgrown
After being nominated in 2011 for his debut album, Blake bagged the prize with his second outing, despite incredible competition from such heavyweights as David Bowie, Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg and Foals. His fourth album, Assume Form, was released in 2019. July 2020 saw the release of the track Are You Even Real. In July, Blake announced a new single, Say What You Will, a collaboration with Billie Eilish's brother Finneas.
2015: Benjamin Clementine - At Least For Now
The English poet and composer went on to release I Tell A Fly in 2017, and collaborated with the Gorillaz on their Humanz album, appearing on anti-Trump track, Hallelujah Money.
2016: Skepta - Konnichiwa
The Shut Down star has gone from strength to strength, winning Best British Male at the NME Awards and an Ivor Novello for Songwriter of the Year in 2017. Other than becoming a bit of a fashion icon, the That's Not Me rapper has also got been given the seal of approval by Liam Gallagher himself. And he's a tough man to please.... The follow-up to Konnichiwa was Ignorance Is Bliss, released in May 2019, while Skepta collaborated with Gorillaz and Tony Allen on the song How Far? in May 2020.
2017: Sampha - Process
Since winning the Mercury, Sampha Sisay has bagged a co-writing credit on the new Florence + The Machine album, High As Hope. A fellow South Londoner, Sampha collaborated with Flo on the track Grace, and he’s also appeared on the latest album by former Talking Head David Byrne. He’s also present on Richard Russell’s Everything Is Recorded, which has been given a nod in the 2018 Mercurys. He’s yet to release a follow-up to Process, but his latest collaboration has been the song Walking Flames with electronica musician Actress.
2018: Wolf Alice - Visions Of A Life
The second album by the London band beat off competition from Arctic Monkeys, Florence + The Machine and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, while the band have supported Foo Fighters and Queens Of The Stone Age over the past couple of years. They were nominated for their debut My Love Is Cool in 2015 and have had another nomination in 2021 for their latest outing, Blue Weekend.
2019: Dave - Psychodrama
The London rapper - full name David Orobosa Omoregie - won the 2019 with this deeply personal album about life as a black youth in Britain, including how his elder brother's sentence of life imprisonment has affected him. The judges called it "the musical equivalent of a literary masterpiece". At the 2020 BRIT Awards, Psychodrama won the Album Of The Year prize.
2020: Michael Kiwanuka - KIWANUKA
The Muswell Hill-born singer-songwriter was named the BRITs Critics Choice in 2012 and his first two albums - Home Again (2012) and Love & Hate (2016) - were both nominated for the Mercury. He took home the prize in 2020 with his third album KIWANUKA, and will sit on the 2021 judging panel.