Here they are with some quick verdicts:
The XX – music that creeps under your skin and weirdly reminiscent of Chris Izaak (which is good). Favourite to win, but favourites tend not to win. May suffer from overexposure through use of one particular track (see also Florence).
Dizzee Rascal – may have scuppered his chances of becoming first ever double Mercury winner through collaborating with Simon Cowell and James Corden.
Paul Weller – won lots of plaudits for not making yet another album of dadmusic. Might get it on some sort of lifetime achievement basis.
Foals – slightly less irritating than a couple of years ago, but still not worthy of being nominated.
Laura Marling – the best young British folk musician we have at the moment, and criminally underexposed. Unlike…
Mumford and Sons – I just CANNOT get on with Mumford and Sons. 6Music seem to love them for some reason, but as far as I can see they’re folk for people who don’t really like folk but want to look “with it”.
I Am Kloot – the Garv has produced their album which could well see them follow their mates Elbow and Doves in the long-overdue-breakthrough-for-band-who’ve-paid-their-dues stakes. Not sure if it’s got that extra oomph that The Seldom Seen Kid had, though.
Wild Beasts – weird and wonderful and essentially Orange Juice fronted by Antony Hegarty. If they won it’d be a victory for real indie music, as opposed to the mainstreamed bloke-rock that passes for indie too often.
Biffy Clyro – bit too metal, not really my cup of tea, but again they’ve been around for years so might get recognition for that.
Corinne Bailey Rae – and she’s a bit too bland for my tastes. Hope that she’s not being included because of the tragic events that she’s had to overcome, but because of artistic merit.
Villagers – not heard of this lot before. Listened to a couple of their tracks and they seem okay, although a whole album’s worth might grate a bit.
Kit Downes Trio – oh, it’s the obligatory self-indulgent jazzwank entry. When they play on the night, it’ll be time for everyone to go to the bar (or put the kettle on if they’re watching at home).
So. The XX, Wild Beasts or Laura Marling would all be good results, but second-guessing the panel tends to be futile…