Record-breaking star Adele will battle it out with two previous winners PJ Harvey and Elbow for this year's Barclaycard Mercury Prize.
They are among a shortlist of 12 acts - which also includes double Brit winner Tinie Tempah - who will compete for the esteemed award.
Half the nominees are nominated for debut releases and the list features four female singer-songwriters.
Adele is nominated for her second album 21, which is the biggest selling album of the year and set a new record for an unbroken 11-week stint at the top of the charts.
It is the second time, she has been up for the prize, with her debut 19 missing out on the prize in 2008 to Elbow's The Seldom Seen Kid.
PJ Harvey was previously awarded the prize in 2001 for Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea on the night of 9/11. She is in the running this year for her acclaimed eighth album Let England Shake, which was inspired by recent international conflicts.
Adele and PJ Harvey were installed as the early joint favourites at 4-1 by bookmaker William Hill.
The Mercury Prize - won last year by The XX - is held in high esteem within the industry, but more importantly it frequently helps to boost sales of nominees and winners.
It revitalised the career of Elbow, this year nominated for Build A Rocket Boys!, when they won three years ago.
Tinie Tempah's inclusion, for Disco-Overy, follows his best British breakthrough and best single win at the Brit Awards in February.
He is among the acts shortlisted for their debut albums along with Everything Everything, Anna Calvi, Katy B, dubstep producer James Blake and rapper Ghostpoet.
Among the acts to miss out on a nomination are Radiohead who have been up for the prize for their past three releases but King Of Limbs fails to get a nod.
Previous winners Arctic Monkeys have also been ignored this year by judges for their fourth album, Suck It And See.
The prize usually includes a nod to jazz and folk artists and this year is no exception. Jazz hopes are carried by pianist Gwilym Simcock, while the folk interest comes from the collaboration between King Creosote - Scottish musician Kenny Anderson - and Jon Hopkins.
Also included in the list is Metronomy, nominated for the third album The English Riviera.
Gennaro Castaldo of retail chain HMV said the effect of inclusion on the shortlist can not be overestimated.
"Because it's widely viewed as being such a credible award, the Mercury Prize can shine a very bright on the nominees and on new talent in particular.
"The increased exposure in record stores and in the media can have a hugely galvanising effect on demand for your music - both for your CDs and downloads, which can easily more than double or treble overnight and see your chart position surge."
Nominees were announced by presenter Lauren Laverne at the Hospital Club in London this morning.
The overall winner of the 2011 prize will be revealed on Tuesday September 6 and broadcast live on BBC Two.