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Mercury Prize Goes to Benjamin Clementine Beating Out Jamie xx, Florence and the Machine

by William Hoffman   Nov 21, 2015 15:50 PM EST

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This year's highly coveted and debated Mercury Prize, which honors the best British album of the year, goes to Benjamin Clementine for his debut album, At Least For Now, beating out stiff competition from Jamie xx, Florence & The Machine and more.

Other nominees included Aphex Twin's Syro, Gaz Coombes' Matador, C Duncan's Architect, Eska's self titled album, Ghost Poet's Shedding Skin, Roisin Murphy's Hairless Toys, Slaves' Are You Satisfied, Soak's Before We Forgot How To Dream and Wolf Alice's My Love Is Cool.

The award has been highly scrutinized in recent years for not highlighting enough new and innovative talent, with acts such as the Vaccines's Justin Young calling this year's nominees a collection of "12 records my dad bought this year."

But for U.S. audiences, Clementine is a very new face, as his piano, jazz ballads haven't penetrated the market by any measure much at all. In fact, he hasn't made a big impact on the UK charts either, despite his better name recognition there. Perhaps winning this award will bring him more attention from over seas markets as well as domestically.

Watch his music video for "Nemesis" below.

Clementine grew up in North London, but really advanced his musical styling when he moved to France and learned to break down the traditional conventions of his song structure. This is how he creates gorgeous piano ballads that combine elements of rock, African music, jazz and French poetry.

Jamie xx's In Colour and Florence & The Machine's How Big How Blue How Beautiful were the expected favorites to win, but it just goes to show, you never really know whom the industry is going to choose.

The Mercury Prize is chosen by a panel of British music industry insiders and critics as well as a spattering of fan votes. Pitchfork notes that previous winners have included PJ Harvey, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and last year's recipient, Young Fathers.

Check out some of Clementine's other gorgeous singles including "London" and "Condolence" over on YouTube.

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