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It’s that time of year again:the committee behind the Mercury Prize, the prestigious award given to the year’sbest album by a British or Irish artist, has announced the twelve albums comprising2007’s shortlist. They are as follows:

  • Bat for Lashes, Fur andGold

  • Fionn Regan, The End of History
  • New Young Pony Club, FantasticPlayroom
  • Klaxons, Myths of the Near Future
  • The Young Knives, Voices of Animals andMen
  • Arctic Monkeys, Favourite WorstNightmare
  • Maps, We Can Create
  • The View, Hats Off to the Buskers
  • Dizzee Rascal, Maths + English
  • Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
  • Jamie T, Panic Prevention
  • Basquiat Strings, Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford

The list is notable for containing two former winners- Dizzee Rascal and Arctic Monkeys – both of whomhave a real shot at repeating this year. The Monkeys have to beconsidered heavy favorites: Favourite Worst Nightmare is widelyconsidered a better album than Whatever People Say I Am, That’sWhat I’m Not, which won last year. However, no artist orband has ever won the Prize twice, much less in back-to-back years. Ifthe Arctics don’t take it, Ivor Novello winner AmyWinehouse would be a welcome alternative.

What’s also interesting: the shortlist featuresartists that people have already heard of. (Three gold stars if you knowBasquiat Strings.) Last year’s list was roundly criticizedfor overlooking high-profile releases forobscurities.

Pete Paphides of The Times thinks The Good, TheBad & The Queen was snubbed for their contribution tokeeping the album alive in the digital age: “It’s precisely recordslike The Good The Bad & The Queen – thoughtfully sequenced songsuiteswhich credit the listener with some intelligence – that have helpedkeep the album relevant as an art form, and by extension the MercuryMusic Prize itself.”

In chart news: at nine weeks and running, Rihanna‘s “Umbrella” has matched Gnarls Barkley‘s “Crazy” as the longest-running No. 1 single of the 21st century in the UK. The last time any artist exceeded that threshold was in 1994, when the male vocal group Wet Wet Wet spent 15 weeks at No. 1 with their Troggs remake, “Love Is All Around.” Given Rihanna’s unrelenting strength this summer, it wouldn’t surprise me if she challenged that record.

1. Rihanna – Umbrella
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2. Fergie – Big Girls Don’t Cry
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3. Kate Nash – Foundations
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4. Timbaland ft. Keri Hilson, D.O.E.,and Sebastian – The Way I Are
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5. Arctic Monkeys – FluorescentAdolescent
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6. Avril Lavigne – When You’reGone
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7. Enrique Iglesias – Do You Know(The Ping Pong Song)
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8. The Hoosiers – Worried AboutRay
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9. My Chemical Romance – Teenagers
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10. Natasha Bedingfield – Soulmate
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By Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks is the founding editor of Anglophenia.