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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008, 13:20 GMT
Brit Awards take pick of the pops
By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Leona Lewis
X Factor winner Leona Lewis is nominated for four awards
The Brit Award nominations have been announced, with pop acts Take That, Mika and Leona Lewis dominating proceedings.

Does the shortlist reflect the best of British music in 2007?

After being ruled by rock acts for the past two years, pop music has regained the upper hand at the Brit Awards.

Fifteen years after their first prize at the ceremony, Take That are favourites to scoop glory on awards night on 20 February.

Their nominations include best British group, where they join Girls Aloud in a face-off with indie heavyweights Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs.

Kaiser Chiefs at Brit Awards 2006
The Kaiser Chiefs won three Brit trophies in 2006
"That's fine, we're all popular, people are buying the records," says Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson, who said he was a fan of Take That and Girls Aloud. "These awards should go to people who are popular."

Meanwhile, the Arctic Monkeys are the sole rock representatives in the battle for best British album.

Their competition includes Leona Lewis, the X Factor winner whose album Spirit beat the Arctics' own record for the fastest-selling debut in UK history.

The Daily Telegraph's rock critic Neil McCormick said it was "one of the most awful-looking lists of uninteresting, unexciting talent I've ever seen".

"To see Leona Lewis in album of the year is just depressing beyond comprehension," he says.

MAIN BRITS NOMINEES
Mika
Mika (above) - 4
Leona Lewis - 4
Take That - 4
Arctic Monkeys - 3
Kaiser Chiefs - 3
Mark Ronson - 3
Kate Nash - 3

"She's had one decent single, she's a TV reality star, it's really got nothing to do with the shape of music in the year.

"But it does kind of show you it wasn't a very good year for music and therefore these pop characters were the only ones that emerged newly and freshly out of the year."

Stuart Clarke, talent editor for industry bible Music Week, said there was no shortage of good new music in 2007 - but there were not as many big sellers.

"So when you do get artists like Leona and Mika and they sell particularly well, they dominate to an extent," he says.

"But certainly compared to the year before, pop in 2007 felt like it was very much on the up. Leona's [released] a great, amazing album."

The chairman of the Brit Awards committee, Sony BMG label boss Ged Doherty, describes it as a "very exciting list this year, very varied".

He says: "It reflects what was going on in music last year - you've got everything from Mika, Take That and Leona Lewis on one hand all the way through to the Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon and all points in between."

BEST-SELLING BRITISH ARTISTS OF 2007
Amy Winehouse at Brit Awards 2007
Amy Winehouse (above) - 2.2 million albums
Leona Lewis - 1.6m
Take That - 1.5m
Mika - 1.2m
Kaiser Chiefs - 735,000
Arctic Monkeys - 732,000
Source: Music Week
Several acts were missing, though. Amy Winehouse was barely out of the charts or the headlines in 2007.

Despite having the year's best-selling album in the UK, it was released at the end of 2006 and earned her nominations last year - meaning she was not eligible this time.

Radiohead, whose In Rainbows was one of the most critically-acclaimed and talked-about releases of 2007, did not qualify either.

The album was not initially eligible for the charts because it was released through the band's own website.

To be nominated for best British group or best British album, award rules say you must have reached the top 75 by the cut-off date of 26 November.

Radiohead did not reach the charts until In Rainbows got a full CD release on New Year's Eve - meaning the band may well feature in next year's nominations instead.

Prince's hopes of being named best international male were scuppered after he gave his new album away free with the Mail on Sunday newspaper - also not eligible for the charts.

Rock reunions

Another theme of 2007 was the number of reformed megagroups, such as Led Zeppelin, The Police and the Spice Girls, who returned to the stage.

They were not considered for best British group because they did not release any new music. They could have been shortlisted for best British live act, but were not.

But Winehouse aside, the list of main Brit nominees is almost exactly the same as the rundown of best-selling British artists in 2007.

And like it or not, the Brit Awards - unlike some other music honours - are largely about rewarding what is popular.

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