Alt-J has emerged from the pack of 12 shortlisted nominees as the winner of the 2012 Mercury Prize, arguably the most venerable and meaningful of the annual British music awards given to a band or artist from the UK or Ireland. The Mercury Prize was handed out at London's Roundhouse on Thursday night following performances from all of the nominees, from Alt-J to Jessie Ware.
Aside from the admiration (likely pleased, occasionally grudging) of their peers and a lot of press, Alt-J goes home with £20,000 ($32,200) and the happy possibility of vastly increased album sales for their debut An Awesome Wave. That sales boost helped Elbow in 2008 but failed to materialize for Speech Debelle the following year.
At this evening's show, Alt-J, who were early favorites to win the award, performed "Tessellate." Upon accepting the Mercury Prize, the band members, who all met at Leeds University, thanked their parents for not forcing them to get day jobs.
Watch Alt-J perform at The Alternate Side earlier this year, plus some of this year's other Mercury Prize nominees in session, like Django Django, Michael Kiwanuka and Field Music.
Last year's winner was PJ Harvey, the only artist to have ever won two Mercury Prizes, for her war-ravaged album, Let England Shake. Previous winners also include the xx, Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Dizzee Rascal, Suede and Portishead.
The 2012 nominees, chosen by a panel of musicians, tastemakers and those in the music industry, were:
Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough
Ben Howard – Every Kingdom
Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
The Maccabees – Given To The Wild
Richard Hawley – Standing At The Sky’s Edge
Roller Trio – Roller Trio
Django Django – Django Django
Plan B - Ill Manors
Jessie Ware - Devotion
Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
Field Music – Plumb
Sam Lee – Ground Of It’s Own