London - Their latest album may have topped charts around the world, but British rockers Coldplay were expected to lose out to less celebrated rivals on Tuesday in the race for their home country's most prestigious music award.
Kaiser Chiefs are tipped as hot favourites to win the Mercury Prize for their debut album Employment, while Coldplay's X and Y is seen by bookmakers as a 16-1 outside shot.
The prize - for the best album by a British act that year - carries a £20 000 cheque, but more important is the attendant publicity, which generally sees the record sell many thousands of extra copies. The 12-strong shortlist covers the worlds of jazz and folk as well as pop and rock, although, as ever, the titles from the lesser-known fields are considered rank outsiders.
Coldplay, whose latest album, their third, has topped the charts in 29 countries, were initially seen as one of the favourites when the 14th Mercury shortlist was announced in July.
However, their case has not been helped by a lukewarm critical response to X and Y, despite its massive sales.
US critics have been particularly fierce, with the New York Times labelling Coldplay "the most insufferable band of the decade" whose singer Chris Martin - the husband of US actress Gwyneth Paltrow - possesses a voice somewhere "between a yodel and a hiccup".
In contrast, Kaiser Chiefs' album has been well-received, and the guitar-based band were boosted by appearing at the US leg of the massive Live 8 charity concerts in July.
Eight of the 12 nominees were recognised for debut albums, something critics said highlighted the current vitality of the British music scene.
Also on the shortlist are the likes of retro-tinged guitar group The Magic Numbers, and suburban chroniclers Hard-Fi, both of whom had released their first albums only weeks before the nominations were revealed.
Another act up for the prize is M.I.A., the moniker of dance music innovator Maya Arulpragasam, a Sri Lankan Tamil who left her home nation for Britain with her family as a baby.
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