Adele – 21
Imagine a human centipede but with cats. Now imagine the resulting howls autotuned into brown noise which is then magnified into an eternal feedback loop which bursts every eardrum on earth, eventually leading to the death of all humankind. Adele wants to be this, but actually she's just pleasant like a meadow or a Sunday.
Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
The voice of God if God were a woman, which She is. In a yell-off, she'd scream Florence and her stupid Machine into a cocked hat. Her mouth is so cavernous, it is used as a venue for her own gigs. The entire Mercury Prize awards ceremony is taking place on her tonsils, so everyone's going to have to be careful because one gulp and we're all stomach juice. Probable winner, then, but only because of gastric terror.
Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys!
Don't be daft, our kid. You can't build a rocket in t'yard. You'll send t'pigeons reet daft and they'll not be eatin' their seed. I'm using t'NME for bedding for t'whippets again coz they're still using "fooking" every time a Northerner swears in their interviews. If only Elbow had named themselves after a less innocuous body part. Cock, maybe.
Everything Everything – Man Alive
It's it's good good to to see see a a truly truly original original debut debut album album on on the the Mercury Mercury Music Music Prize Prize shortlist shortlist. Everything Everything Everything Everything are are a a group group that that talks talks fast fast and keeps keeps breaking breaking into into falsetto falsetto. Oh oh and and their their name name has has this this in-in-built-built echo echo that that can can get get rather rather annoying annoying annoying annoying annoying.
Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
The hattiest musician in the list, Ghostpoet does this singing / rapping thing that Plan B does except, unlike Plan B, he doesn't make you want you to put your tongue in a blender. A favourite for people who talk about "homegrown", "eclectic" and "seriously, where did you get that hat". Disclaimer: don't put your tongue in a blender. Waste disposals are fine.
Gwilym Simcock – Good Days at Schloss Elmau
Ba da ba da tootle tootle jazzhands. Don't bother.
James Blake – James Blake
Things that have been trendy, even only ironically: Nuclear disarmament. The 2CV. Poll tax riots. Grunge. Yoof television. Pez. Playing on railway lines. Things Can Only Get Better. Quad bikes. The colour yellow. Happy-slapping. Crystal meth. Friends Reunited. Barack Obama. Planking. James Blake. What's happened to everyone that was into those things? They're all DEAD FROM OLD AGE, that's what.
Katy B – On a Mission
Born to mixed race parents in Leeds, she studied performing arts before answering an advert in a newspaper to join a pop band called Touch. Taking on management from Annie Lennox's mentor Simon Fuller, Katy B's band changed their name and they had worldwide success as promotors of 'girl power'. Katy B (pictured above) is famous for her leopard-print dresses, massive hair and being 'scary'. (Have you gone to the wrong Wikipedia page? - ed.)
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
The token celtic inclusion on the list, this collaboration between a Scottish singer songwriter and an electronic music genius makes this the new Edwin Collins Versus Brian Eno. Wait. No, that's a lazy comparison. Darius Versus The Venga Boys. No. Too far the other way. Del Amitri Versus Bibio. That'll do. You can use that on your album cover, guys.
Metronomy – The English Riviera
Truly brilliant electro disco with more hooks than a velcro factory. We've been waiting flipping ages for a new Metronomy album: we've been looking at our watches more than quality checkers in a watch factory. The Look is already one of the best singles of 2011, and they've got more sharp hairstyles than a mohican factory. Their live sets are simple, ordered and have more massive chest-lights than a, um, a factory that specialises in body-mounted illumination solutions.
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
If "what if I take my problem to the United Nations" isn't one of 2011's most catchy lyrics, I'll eat my 50ft Queenie promo CD. Polly has been unleashing her own version of Nick Cave hell since 1926, but she's on this list because her latest album was a true revelation. No-one ever talks about her amazing hair, though. OMG look at her hair. Hasn't she got amazing hair? She should win because of her hair. I love her hair. Her hair is the best thing about this list OMG LMAO FML.
Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy
If you got a talent, you gonna have to use it / To bag a nomination for Mercury Music / Ain't exactly 808 State's Cubik / His pop songs are sharper than a toothpick / From Paris, Scunthorpe or Munich / He's on an odyssey like Stanley Kubrick / But he can't be quick to grab the winner's tunic / The token pop man will probably lose it.