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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 10:37 GMT
Brit Awards: Runners and riders
The best of British musical talent is being celebrated at this year's Brit Awards, which is taking place on Wednesday. Here is a guide to the main contenders.


MIKA

Mika

This Beirut-born, London-based singer took the charts by storm last year with his multi-coloured, bubblegum pop.

His debut album Life In Cartoon Motion sold 1.2 million copies in the UK and has spawned five top 20 hits.

He said: "I make mistakes. I say stupid things. I do idiotic things. And, quite frankly, I'm proud of them."

The critics said: "As a bold statement of pop intent, they didn't come any more ballsy in 2007." The Observer

Shortlisted for: British male solo artist, British breakthrough act, British album, British single (Grace Kelly).

TAKE THAT

Take That

After an unexpectedly successful reunion tour in 2006, Take That retired to the recording studio and started work on their first album in a decade - Beautiful World.

Last year, the group won their fourth best British single Brit for Patience. They'll be hoping to notch up a fifth for the ELO-inspired number one, Shine.

They said: "Every day we're like: 'How can this be so? How can this be true?'" Jason Orange

The critics said: "They are older and wiser these days... and they can still do back flips. It really is the best of both worlds." The Times

Shortlisted for: British group, British album, British live act, British single (Shine).

LEONA LEWIS

Leona Lewis

The X Factor winner is being guided by Simon Cowell and has been compared with divas like Whitney Houston.

Her single Bleeding Love was the year's best-selling song and her album Spirit became the UK's fastest-selling debut.

She said: "I am an emotional person. I cry! I won't develop thick skin, but I won't let people walk over me either."

The critics said: "Lewis has talent - but she is poorly served by a series of cheerless ballads." Daily Mail

Shortlisted for: British female solo artist, British album, British breakthrough act, British single (Bleeding Love).

MARK RONSON

Mark Ronson

Ronson says he became a record producer after realising he could never compete musically with his childhood best friend Sean Lennon.

But after writing with Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and Christina Aguilera, the 32-year-old took centre stage with his covers album, Version, which turned songs like Radiohead's Just into old-school funk tunes.

He said: "About 18 months ago I was ready to give up trying to be a producer because I just thought, maybe I'm never going to make a good record again."

The critics said: "Version has its share of undeniable clunkers, but its successes are so immediate and so animated that no reasonable listener could possibly begrudge Ronson." Stylus magazine

Shortlisted for: British male solo artist, British album, British single (Valerie - featuring Amy Winehouse).

KAISER CHIEFS

The Kaiser Chiefs

The pride of Leeds, the Kaiser Chiefs spent just six weeks recording Yours Truly, Angry Mob, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut Employment.

The five-piece will be hoping to replicate their Brits success of 2006, when they picked up three awards including best British group.

They said: "We like being on tour, we like playing in front of people, and people liking it and having a good time." Bassist Simon Rix

The critics said: "The familiarity is comforting, but nothing here will make you jump up on the bar and headbutt a stranger." Entertainment Weekly

Shortlisted for: British group, British live act.

ARCTIC MONKEYS

Arctic Monkeys

Phenomenally successful indie icons the Arctic Monkeys survived the hype of their critically-lauded debut album to deliver a more sophisticated follow-up - Favourite Worst Nightmare - in 2007.

Last year, the band won two Brits - but did not attend the ceremony, instead sending in acceptance videos dressed as characters from The Wizard of Oz and The Village People.

They said: "We've definitely improved thanks to playing every night last year." Singer Alex Turner

The critics said: "It's not just the songs that have improved, but also their delivery." Q Magazine

Shortlisted for: British group, British album, British live act.

KATE NASH

Kate Nash

Tabloids and teenage girls fell for the 20-year-old Londoner's down-to-earth songwriting and its clever, catchy and caustic storytelling.

Her biggest hit Foundations is the pick of her tales of adolescent drama.

She said: "I'm not a pop package who has had dancing lessons or etiquette lessons. I'm just me."

The critics said: "Nash carved her own niche and delivered one of the year's defining moments." Music Week

Shortlisted for: British female solo artist, British breakthrough act.

KLAXONS

Klaxons

Dance, punk and electro-pop collided in spectacular fashion thanks to Klaxons and their day-glo "new rave" anthems.

In September, they beat Amy Winehouse and Arctic Monkeys to win the Mercury Music Prize for album of the year.

They said: "We wanted to challenge the dull pop music that was out there, and it worked." Singer Jamie Reynolds

The critics said: "More than any other young British band, 2007 belonged to Klaxons." The Times

Shortlisted for: British breakthrough act, British live act.

BAT FOR LASHES

Bat For Lashes

Bat For Lashes is the pseudonym of 27-year-old singer, songwriter and former nursery school teacher Natasha Khan.

Among the favourites to win last year's Mercury Prize, Khan recorded parts of her ethereal, hippy-chic debut album during a downpour in the forest.

She said: "I wanted to get out of the vocal booth because it's a bit claustrophobic in there."

The critics said: "Bat for Lashes exude a fairytale theatricality more commonly associated with ballet than pop." The Guardian

Shortlisted for: British female solo artist, British breakthrough act.



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