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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2006, 08:37 GMT
Brits rules create contentious list
By Ian Youngs
BBC News entertainment reporter

The shortlist for this year's Brit Awards, the UK's main music prizes, has raised questions about whether the right artists have been nominated.

Antony and the Johnsons
Antony and the Johnsons are up for best British solo male
When Antony and the Johnsons won the Mercury Music Prize for UK album of the year, some in the music industry and media said US-based singer Antony Hegarty should not have qualified for a British prize.

Now the UK-born singer, who has lived in the US for more than 20 years, has been nominated for the best British male solo artist prize at the Brit Awards.

The androgynous frontman predicted the reaction - half of the public would think he was not British, he joked, and the other half would think he was not male.

He may not have considered a few others who might think he is not solo.

Hegarty is one of several Brits inclusions and omissions who are raising eyebrows among music fans.

U2's latest album has been nominated for two years in a row
Award rules say entrants for the British categories "must be UK passport holders or of dual nationality and resident in the UK".

Hegarty is a British passport holder but lives in New York.

The rule is ambiguous but organisers say it does not mean nominees for British awards must live in the UK - only those with dual nationality.

And is he solo? He plays with a band and there are six other members of the Johnsons - but it is mainly his project.

Record labels and managers decide which categories to enter their artists for, organisers say - so that is why he is up for a solo award.

In other categories, a string of albums are nominated despite being released more than 12 months ago.

Girls Aloud
Girls Aloud: No nominations despite a string of hit singles
The awards are not just for records released during 2005 - albums released between 2 August 2004 and 28 November 2005 are eligible.

This 16-month period is designed to catch "sleeper" albums that were released months before an artist hit the big time.

This theory worked with James Blunt's Back to Bedlam, which was released in October 2004.

It did not gain popularity in time for last year's ceremony, so now has the chance to win thanks to the extended qualifying period.

But U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb - released in November 2004 - came out during the crossover period and so has been nominated for two years in a row.

Another contender for best international album is Green Day's American Idiot - which was not a "sleeper" release when it came out in September 2004.

Despite being eligible last year, it was not nominated. But this year, it has made the list.

Pink Floyd
Live 8 stars Pink Floyd were reportedly banned from the live category
Most nominees are chosen by a vote of 1,000 music industry figures - ranging from record company executives and music critics to concert promoters and DJs.

But the best British single shortlist is based on airplay and sales - which means X Factor winner Shayne Ward is nominated but Gorillaz are not.

And the nominees for best pop act are "based on sales of albums and singles over a calendar year".

Under these rules, Kelly Clarkson and Katie Melua - who have had strong album sales but no massive hit singles - are in the running.

But McFly (two number one singles in 2005), Sugababes (one chart-topper) and Girls Aloud (four top 10 hits) are not.

There has also been reported disquiet about the best British live act category.

Past controversy

Media stories have said Live 8 acts - such as show-stealers Pink Floyd and Robbie Williams - have been excluded because it was a free event.

But the Brits Awards would not be the Brits without a bit of controversy and such arguments are nothing new.

Last year's victory for Joss Stone in the urban category sparked a debate about who should qualify for that award.

Four years ago, Dido was dropped from the best newcomer category because she had already been nominated for best British female the previous year.

And in 2000, King of My Castle by Wamdue Project was dropped from the best British single category as none of the artists had a British passport.

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