LONDON – Infectious rockers the Arctic Monkeys — who released Britain's fastest-selling debut album after building a cult Internet following — have won the prestigious Mercury music prize, beating a diverse field of musicians.
The group from Sheffield, northern England, — whose album "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" has also enjoyed strong global sales — claimed a $38,000 prize at a London ceremony Tuesday.
Judges of the prize, which has honored the best album of the year by a British or Irish band since 1992, had previously been renowned for overlooking populist choices in favor of obscure artists.
The honor is awarded on the basis of innovation, rather than commercial sales.
Nominated artists included unlikely duo Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, the former singer and cellist with Scottish indie pop band Belle & Sebastian and the ex-frontman of Seattle grunge group Screaming Trees, who collaborated on the album "Ballad of the Broken Seas."
Radiohead singer Thom Yorke's introspective solo album "The Eraser" was also listed, along with "Melting Pot" by British jazz pianist Zoe Rahman.
Crooner Richard Hawley, whose sweeping ballads chronicle toil and loss in Britain's industrial towns, was shortlisted 10 years after Pulp — the band with whom he toured as a guitarist — claimed the award.
Other nominees were British rock and indie acts the Editors, the Guillemots, Hot Chip and Muse. Revived 1980s band Scritti Politti, London rapper Sway and folk singer Lou Rhodes were also listed.
Previous winners include London rapper Dizzee Rascal, Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand and Antony and the Johnsons, fronted by British-born but U.S.-raised Antony Hegarsty.