Simon Frith, Mercury Prize chairman, said: “This year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist celebrates a fascinating year for British and Irish music, marked by a wonderful range of musical voices – urgent, reflective, upbeat and tender, acoustic and electronic, and all with something intriguing to say.”
He admitted the short list was “not a rational decision”, saying it was “partly pragmatic and partly passion”.
Referring to the inclusion of Bowie, who could be the oldest winner in the history of the prize, and the Arctic Monkeys, he said:
“What is really striking about this year is that we have established artists doing something interesting. “It’s not just another record”.
He also noted the inclusion of more electronic records this year, saying the genre was “moving clearly into the mainstream”.
Bowie, who released his debut album in 1967, has been nominated on this year’s Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize shortlist, along with 11 others in the running for the best album of 2013.
The 66-year-old’s surprise release in January, The Next Day, was praised by the panel for its “panache and a remarkable sense of urgency’” and goes up against the cream of the best musicians the new generation has to offer.
Shortlisted alongside Bowie are 19-year-old Jake Bugg, the singer-songwriter known in part for his tabloid feud with boyband One Direction, Laura Marling, 23, and 24-year-old James Blake.
The shortlist also includes Artic Monkeys, for their fifth album AM, Disclosure for their debut Settle, Foals for their third album and second Mercury nominated release Holy Fire, and Jon Hopkins’ Immunity.
They will go up against Laura Mvula’s record Sing to the Moon, Rudimental’s debut album Home, Savages’ Silence Youself and Awayland by Villagers, who were nominated in 2010. The winner will be announced on October 30.
Bowie was last week nominated for six Q awards, in recognition of his comeback this year, which gave him his first number one album in 20 years.