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    Money on the Monkeys for Mercury prize

    arcticmonkeys4.jpgThe Arctic Monkeys are favourites to win this year's Mercury Music Prize for album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, at a ceremony in London.

    Bookmakers say the album, which became the fastest-selling debut album in the UK in February, has "frozen the rest of the field out of the betting".


    "It'll be a major surprise if they fail to win," said a Ladbrokes spokesman.


    The Sheffield-based band are up against nominees including Muse, Editors, Thom Yorke, Richard Hawley and Guillemots. More than 200 albums were considered for the 2006 prize. Other contenders include Hot Chip, Isobell Campbell and Mark Lanegan, rapper Sway and Scritti Politti - who last experienced major success in the mid-1980s.

    The winner, announced at the London's Grosvenor House Hotel on Tuesday night, takes home a cheque for £20,000 - and can expect a surge in album sales.


    Victory for the Arctic Monkeys would cap a remarkable 12 months for the group, nearly a year since their single, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, reached number one in the UK.


    But Mercury judges have a history of defying expectations.


    Last year Antony and the Johnsons unexpectedly took the award for the album I Am A Bird Now, ahead of big-selling acts like the Kaiser Chiefs and KT Tunstall.


    In 2003, Coldplay missed out to the little-known Dizzee Rascal, while in 1997, Radiohead's OK Computer - which frequently features in polls to find the greatest album of all time - was beaten by Roni Size/Reprazent's New Forms.

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