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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Gorillaz must stay on Mercury list
Gorillaz wanted "some other Muppet" to be nominated
Record bosses have told cartoon pop band Gorillaz that they must remain on the shortlist for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize - despite the fact that the band said they do not want to win.

And they have been installed as 3-1 favourites for the award, which is given to the best British or Irish album of the year, by one bookmaker.

Mercury Music Prize odds
Gorillaz 3-1
Basement Jaxx 4-1
Radiohead 4-1
PJ Harvey 7-1
Super Furry Animals 7-1
Turin Brakes 8-1
Goldfrapp 8-1
Zero 7 12-1
Elbow 12-1
Ed Harcourt 14-1
Susheela Raman 14-1
Tom McRae 14-1
source: William Hill
The band, who have had hits with singles Clint Eastwood and 19-2000, described the nomination as "like carrying a dead albatross round your neck for eternity".

But their record label Parlophone say that because label executives put them forward, only they can take their name off the list.

Parlophone's managing director Keith Wozencroft said: "I feel that the Gorillaz have made a fantastic album, and that is why I entered it for the Mercury Music Prize."

Gorillaz are a "virtual band" of cartoon characters created by artists such as Blur's Damon Albarn and hip-hop hero Dan "The Automator" Nakamura.

 Watch a clip of Clint Eastwood from the album Gorillaz

The characters have a habit of saying controversial things, and are used as a front by Albarn and other members of the band to say things that they would not normally be able to get away with.

PJ Harvey
PJ Harvey: Nominated twice previously
Fictional bass player Murdoc said the nomination "sounds a bit heavy" when the shortlist was announced on Tuesday.

"No thanks man! Why don't you nominate some other poor Muppet," he said in a statement.

Radiohead and the Super Furry Animals are among the other 11 artists who are up for the award.

William Hill has put Gorillaz at 3-1 to win the award, with Radiohead and dance duo Basement Jaxx at 4-1.

Another bookmaker, Blue Square, thinks London singer-songwriting duo Turin Brakes will be the dark horses, making them 4-1 favourites.

Super Furry Animals
Super Furry Animals: Currently in the singles charts
Judges' chair Simon Frith called it "one of the more intriguing Mercury Prize shortlists", with eight debut albums on the list and a number of little-known names.

Noticeable by their absence from the list are U2 and Craig David and there is also no room for any folk, jazz or classical albums.

The 12-strong list of British and Irish album acts reflects musical excellence, rather than sales or popularity.

But the publicity boost from a Mercury nomination usually guarantees a sales boost of between 20% and 100%.

Past Mercury winners
1992 Primal Scream
1993 Suede
1994 M People
1995 Portishead
1996 Pulp
1997 Roni Size & Reprazent
1998 Gomez
1999 Talvin Singh
2000 Badly Drawn Boy
"There is the emergence of a new generation of singer-songwriters and a continuing breakdown in the distinction between rock and dancefloor sensibilities," said Simon Frith of the new shortlist.

"But what's most striking is the verve with which British musicians draw on the full palette of styles and genres, past and present, to pursue their distinctive moods and visions."

Last year the 20,000 prize went to Damon Gough, better known as Badly Drawn Boy, whose low-key offering The Hour Of Bewilderbeast was seen as the album of the year.

The winner of the 2001 prize will be announced on 11 September.

For the first time this year the event will be broadcast by Channel 4, with a special 90-minute programme to be screened on 12 September.

As in previous years, the Mercury Prize show will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 1.

The BBC's entertainment reporter Robert Nesbit
"The Mercury Prize is seen as music's Booker Prize"
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