In addition to our article about ticket details for the year's biggest music award ceremony, the nominations for the coveted BRITs have now been announced and, as usual, it's a mixed trough of porridge. The big award event takes place on Tuesday 16th February so be prepared for plenty of headline-grabbing, thigh-revealing and PR exercises between now and then. So who's up for one?
In the Best Group category, this domestic award will be between Doves, Friendly Fires, JLS, Kasabian and Muse. Bar one act, this is quite a decent selection for once - I'm rooting for Doves myself as their excellent 'Kingdom Of Rust' opus seemed to escape the attention of Mercury panelists. Can't see the point in Friendly Fires being on here since their album came out in 2008 and output has been skant. Kasabian and Muse have had an awesome year to say the least, both on record and live so it could be a show-down between these two. JLS? Oh please
The Best Album herd is a varied little gang of upstarts - Lily Allen seemed to win over new converts with 'It's Not Me, It's You' and Dizzee Rascal was everywhere with his 'Tongue 'n' Cheek'. Last year's Critic's Choice award-winner Florence and the Machine is not surprisingly in amongst the gold-stars with 'Lungs', Kasabian weigh in with 'West Ryder .' and Paulo Nutini made a nice beer-coaster with 'Sunny Side Up'. Gotta be Kasabian or Florence for me I think. Best International Album is only worth bothering about for Animal Collective's rather more-ish 'Merriweather Post Pavillion' set. Empire Of The Sun (great single but patchy album), Jay-Z (an improvement), Black-Eyed Peas (£60 a ticket!) and Lady GaGa (no comment) fill the remaining places. There is also a chance to vote for the BRITs Album of 30 Years via Radio Two which I won't be voting for because my memory goes back further than 1995 - Talk Talk's 'Spirit Of Eden'. It's not on this list but (groan) Dido, Travis (eh?), Duffy(!), Verve, Oasis, Sade, Coldplay and Keane are, and are not the most inspiring of choices. You've always got (and I'm not kidding here) Dire Straits and Phil Collins to choose from as well. No Muse, no Aphex Twin, no Blur, no Waterboys, no Nitin Sawhney ..
The solo awards throw up (!) a few interesting choices as well. The Female Solo Artist will no doubt fall to Lily Allen or Leona Lewis but Bat For Lashes or Florence may get a look-in. Pixie Lott might get a copy of Look-In if she's lucky. Internationally it's GaGa, Ladyhawke (scratches head), Norah Jones, Rihanna and the ever-present Shakira in the mix. As for the blokes we have Dizzee, Mika, Paolo, Calvin Harris and my favourite singing peanut, Robbie Williams (going for a 12th award). The Rascal will probably strut away with this. He won't walk the International Award for the chaps though because he isn't nominated - but Eminem (eh?), Michael Buble, Jay-Z, Broooce Springsteen and dungaree-bluesician Seasick Steve are. I want Steve to get this and to accept the award from a Z-lister wearing his oily old cap, panel-beater vest and broad smile - the bloke has cheered more people up at festivals than anyone I care to remember, he deserves it.
This all leaves the seemingly pointless Breakthrough Awards, an exercise so futile that they would be better holding a mud-wrestling bout in the middle of the M1 with all nominees slugging it out in furry animal outfits for charity. Suffice to say that JLS, Pixie Lott, Daniel Merriweather and Lady GaGa would make interesting viewing with tyre-tracks across their foreheads and eyes full of tarmac. Just give it to Animal Collective and Florence and have done with it.
Of course, it's the night itself that can be just as entertaining as those bursting egos and this year your host, Peter Kay, will be taking time off from his 5,000 date tour to deliver some Boltonian philosophy as only he knows how. Get in!