Page last updated at 08:34 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The lowdown on Brits bright stars

Thirty-eight acts were nominated for a Brit award this year.

Some of them are household names, some of them have just started out in the music industry.

Entertainment reporter Mark Savage takes an affectionate (and sometimes irreverent) look at each of the artists.

Brief bio: AC/DC are an Australian rock band formed in Sydney by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young.

Nominated for: Best international group and album

What they say: "No-one this side of Chuck Berry has written so many great rock & roll songs about rock & roll." (Rolling Stone)

We say: Like Ceefax, AC/DC were created in 1974, and have resisted change ever since.

Brief bio: Brit School graduate who describes her style as "heartbroken soul".

Nominated for: Best British female and breakthrough

She says: "I'm not [hung up] with my body weight or anything like that. I wouldn't encourage someone to be my size, I would never encourage anyone to be underweight, I just think be happy or whatever." (Hitfix)

We say: She may have been styled by Vogue editor Anna Wintour for the Grammys, but we think Adele's most attractive feature is her fantastically filthy laugh.

Brief bio: American alternative musician hailed by critics as one of the most idiosycratic and creative songwriters of his generation.

Nominated for: Best international male

What they say: "Beck's lyrics have been hailed as rock poetry, taking the Dylan torch of obscure but powerful imagery." (Music OMH)

We say: If ADHD has a soundtrack, it's Beck, who flits between rock, roots, rap, soul, psychedelia, blues, country, pop and jazz like an electrified budgie.

Brief bio: Texan pop princess who rose from the frontwoman of Destiny's Child to solo success and marriage to Jay-Z. Her latest album is recorded under the pseudonym Sasha Fierce.

Nominated for: Best international female

She says: "What I feel onstage I don't feel anywhere else. I created my stage persona, Sasha Fierce... so that when I go home, I don't have to think about what it is I do. Sasha isn't me. She's too aggressive, too strong, too sassy, too sexy." (Mirror)

We say: After all these years, we are still not in a state of readiness for her jelly.

Ian Brown
Brief bio: Former lead singer with seminal indie rockers Stone Roses, branded "King Monkey" by the NME.

Nominated for: Best British male

He says: "I'm only really good at making music. I wasn't convinced when I started out, but then I heard the first Stone Roses' LP." (Independent)

We say: The former Stone Roses frontman did not release any new material in 2008, while his last single got to number 87. Let's just say the best British male category is not the most hotly contested prize this year.

Bernard Butler
Brief bio: One of Britain's most original and influential guitarists, the former Suede star has become an in-demand producer, crafting hits for Duffy and Black Kids.

Recipient of: Producer of the year

He says: "If you can help lift somebody for three minutes out of that dreary existence then I think that's a major achievement." (BBC)

We say: The Brit for twiddling knobs has been absent for a decade - and Butler's win makes its return all the more worthwhile.

Gabriella Cilmi
Brief bio: A 16-year-old singer/songwriter from Australia, who scored a global hit with Sweet About Me.

Nominated for: Best international female

Random trivia: Every year in Melbourne, one of her many uncles organises a festival to celebrate the birthday of the Virgin Mary. (Independent)

We say: Due to an administrative error, Gabriella Cilmi was allowed to become a pop singer in Australia without first having starred in Neighbours.

Brief bio: Multi-award-winning four-piece rock group formed in London in 1998, fronted by the self-deprecating philanthropist Chris Martin.

Nominated for: Best British group, live act, single and album

Coldplay say: "The reason we're the biggest band in the world at the moment is because the others are on holiday." (Chris Martin)

We say: Cutting edge, experimental, avant garde. These are just some of the words that have been used to describe Coldplay's fellow best group nominees Radiohead.

Neil Diamond
Brief bio: Iconic American singer-songwriter, famed for pop classics as Sweet Caroline, Cracklin' Rosie and I'm A Believer.

Nominated for: Best international male

What they say: "Still svelte at age 67, Diamond retains the power to send his fans swooning in the aisles." (Chicago Sun-Times)

We say: If Brits judges caught his super-smooth Glastonbury set, the man they call "The Basher" might just walk away with a prize.

Brief bio: Welsh songstress, whose soul-tinged debut album, Rockferry, was one of the break-out hits of 2008.

Nominated for: Best British female, single, album and breakthrough

She says: "I have a love-hate relationship with music. It drives me mental, but if I'm not writing melodies and lyrics I feel ill." (Telegraph)

We say: Duffy is essentially Amy Winehouse without the personal issues. She performs barefoot, but that won't stop her walking over the competition.

Brief bio: Perennial also-rans from Bury in Greater Manchester, who finally achieved mainstream success with their fourth album, Seldom Seen Kid.

Nominated for: Best British group, live act and album

Trivia: Lead singer Garvey was bullied at school for having what his sister describes as "ears like open car doors". After an operation to pin them back, his classmates chorused: "Holding back the ears." (Guardian)

We say: The earnest northerners have been telling anyone who'll listen that their Mercury-winning album Seldom Seen Kid is "our Dark Side Of The Moon". In truth, its not nearly as boring as that.

Brief bio: London-born Estelle Fanta Swaray came to prominence with her debut single 1980 before things went badly wrong at her UK record label. After decamping to the US, she hooked up with John Legend and Kanye West - global megastardom ensued.

Nominated for: Best British female

She says: "How the hell is there not a single black person in the press singing soul? Adele ain't soul. She sounds like she heard some Aretha records once, and she's got a deeper voice - that don't mean she's soul." (Guardian)

We say: Estelle once told us her vocals on American Boy are a tribute to Su Pollard. For that alone, she deserves an award.

Fleet Foxes
Brief bio: Seattle five-piece, whose debut album recalls the heyday of vocal harmony groups like Crosby, Stills Nash & Young.

Nominated for: Best international group and album

What they say: "Theirs is a studiously rural aesthetic, eschewing urban influences and using reverb like sepia-tone to suggest something much older and more rustic than it really is." (Pitchfork)

We say: Hirsutes you, sir.

Florence and the Machine
Brief bio: Florence and the Machine is the stage name for quirky singer-songwriter Florence Welch and a ragtag band of musicians, whose spirited live shows include harps and clowns.

Recipient of: Critics' choice award

What they say: "The world hasn't seen this kind of profoundly eccentric folk-art minstrel since Kate Bush trilled "Hello sky! Hello trees!" and skipped barefoot over the hillocks in the late-70s in a frock made out of fairy wings (though, in Florence's case, this would be wings torn from mutilated dead fairies, with their eyes poked out)." (Guardian)

We say: Adele won this award last year. Is there some sort of bias towards redheads amongst the Critics' choice jury? We demand an inquiry!

Kimberley from Girls Aloud
Brief bio: Britian's premiere girl band, who have scored 20 consecutive top 10 singles since graduating from TV talent show Pop Stars: The Rivals.

Nominated for: Best British group and single

What they say: "Away from the tabloid gossip, the secret of Girls Aloud's success is very clear - they are, simply, a brilliant pop band." (Music OMH)

We say: Ah, so this is what Cheryl Cole does in her spare time.

Iron Maiden's mascot, Eddie
Brief bio: Seemingly immortal metal band, fronted by part-time pilot Bruce Dickinson.

Nominated for: Best British live act

What they say: "If Iron Maiden ever wrote a song about sex, drugs, or rock and roll, I never heard it. The guys were too busy singing about literature and history." (National Review)

We say: The group's collective age is 311, but they claim it is 666 (probably).

Brief bio: Known to his mother as Shawn Carter, rapper Jay-Z conquered Glastonbury in 2008. It came as a surprise to Noel Gallagher, but not to anyone who has caught the hip-hop godfather's incendiary live shows over the last decade-and-a-half.

Nominated for: Best international male

He says: "I'm actually pretty open, especially in the music. But there's one side of my life I tend to keep quiet. You can't live with everything out there. You have to have sanctuary." (Time Out)

We say: He's got 99 problems, but a Brit ain't one.

The Killers
Brief bio: Glittery rock band hailing, appropriately enough, from Las Vegas. Bigger in the UK than they are at home.

Nominated for: Best international group and album

The band says: "As we get older, we want to become great songwriters in every sense. It's really important for us to be cohesive and tell stories." (Much Music)

We say: With the band planning to cover Genesis and Rod Stewart on their next album, this is the last chance to give them an award before they get tipped into the dumper.

Kings Of Leon
Brief bio: Hard-living Tennessee-based rock quartet, consisting of three brothers Caleb Followill, Nathan Followill, Jared Followill and their first cousin, Matthew Followill.

Nominated for: Best international group and album

What they say: "Kings Of Leon still manage to flaunt an impressive and diverse back-catalogue of songs that most of their indie peers would slit their wrists for." (This Is Fake DIY)

We say: The band are a little embarrassed by their hot-between-the-sheets lyric: "Your sex is on fire". And rightly so, filthy boys.

Leona Lewis
Brief bio: Oprah-endorsed, X Factor-winning Bleeding Love singer. Has quite a set of pipes.

Nominated for: Best British single

Simon Cowell says: "People say: 'Leona can't be serious because she entered the X Factor.' They sneer. But shows like the X Factor are there because doors have been closed. You have to start changing your attitude - give her one award for God's sake!" [after Leona failed to win a single Brit award in 2008]

We say: Hopefully, Simon has invested in a pair of untwistable knickers for this year's ceremony.

Brief bio: Born in Hounslow and partly raised in Sri Lanka, Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam blends hip-hop, pop, grime and world music with frequently political lyrics.

Nominated for: Best British female

She says: "Music can be used for social change. It's not a bad word. I think we shy away from it because the pressure of being successful and the pressure of being sexy and standing up for nothing is so big. You have to be pretty tough to fight that. The experiences that I had [she grew up in Sri Lanka] made me so tough that it didn't matter what anyone put onto me. " (Tavis Smiley Show - PBS)

We say: Possibly the most exciting, credible nominee on the list... She doesn't stand a chance.

Brief bio: Squiggly synth rockers MGMT (pronounced "management") formed in Connecticut, before conquering student discos with their psychedelic funk.

Nominated for: Best international group and album

The band says: "We got signed at a point where we hadn't really talked to each other for the last six months. We had never thought of MGMT as a real band. We didn't even have a live act." (BBC)

We say: If David Bowie had an outer space love child with the Bee Gees it would sound like this.

James Morrison
Brief bio: Created in the mould of James Blunt, singer-songwriter Morrison has proved to have more staying power - with his Nelly Furtado duet Broken Strings taking up near-permanent residence in the top 40.

Nominated for: Best British male

What they say: "Let's talk about the album title: Songs For You, Truths For Me? No no no no no. That will not do at all. Get back to album-naming school and don't come back until you've learned something, Morrison." (Radio 1 Chart blog)

We say: Morrison is the only nominee in the best British male category to have had a top five single this year.

Katy Perry
Brief bio: Shock-pop superstar, whose brightly-coloured costumes and risque lyrics (she kissed a girl, apparently) made her one of the most recognisable new faces of 2008.

Nominated for: Best international female

She says: "I'm completely outrageous and I'll do anything for attention! I've just got really big boobs... and my sweater gets tighter every week." (Blender)

We say: Katy Perry is a feminist icon and anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

Pet Shop Boys
Brief bio: Erudite electonic dance duo, who have sold more than 50 million copies of records like West End Girls, Rent and Go West around the world.

Recipients of: Outstanding Contribution to Music

Neil Tennant says: "I never thought we would get this. The record company phoned us up and asked if we would turn up if we won it, because they know we're funny about award ceremonies. We said yes, of course we would." (MSN)

We say: It is 24 years since West End Girls was number one, since when Neil Tenant and Chris Lowe have scored another 38 top 40 hits. A thoroughly well-deserved lifetime achievement award.

Brief bio: Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, whose confessional lyrics and riot grrrrl attitude set her apart from her peers. Last year's smash hit single So What was a riotous rebuff to her ex-husband, Carey Hart.

Nominated for: Best international female

She says: "Wow, everything I have done has been reduced to a soundbite about a failed marriage that lasted two years." (PerthNow)

We say: Pink is positioned as a rebellious outsider but, for all the tattoos and 'tude, she's one the planet's most unabashed pop stars.

Thom Yorke of Radiohead
Brief bio: Oxford-based alternative rock quintet, whose experiments in sound and song structure have taken them a long way from their grungy debut, Creep.

Nominated for: Best British group and album

They say: "When I write lyrics and am using them in the rehearsal, people are like, 'Well, I like that line, and I like that line, and blah blah blah' and usually, it's the lines I'm on the verge of throwing out." (Thom Yorke - The Onion)

We say: The confident swagger of Radiohead's recent live shows suggests a band finally at ease with their position as elder statesmen of rock.

Beth Rowley
Brief bio: An English singer-songwriter born to missionary parents in Lima, Peru, Beth Rowley came to prominence on the Bristol music scene before releasing her folksy debut, Little Dreamer, in 2008.

Nominated for: Best British female

Random Trivia: The Bristolian singer co-wrote her debut album with her boyfriend, Ben Castle - whose father was Record Breakers star Roy Castle.

We say: Rowley's low-key, gospel-tinged folk is the dark horse in the best British female category.

Brief bio: Philadelphia's Santi White studied music at university, became a talent-spotter for a record label, sang with a punk band and is now solo under the name Santogold.

Nominated for: Best international female

What they say: "There may be a funny haircut and a pair of comedy shades but underneath there is a smart Philly girl who sings brilliant pop songs." (Guardian)

We say: They'd better not have engraved the statuettes yet - she's just changed her name to Santigold.

Scouting For Girls
Brief bio: Uplifting piano based pop by three childhood friends from Watford, whose name is a riff on Robert Baden-Powell's Scouting For Boys handbook.

Nominated for: Best British live act, single and breakthrough

They say: "Some of our songs are a bit silly, yes, and we're hardly Radiohead, but I want the songs to be like a nostalgic look back at our childhood and to work on different levels." (End Of Term magazine)

We say: Three nominations are nice to have, but can anything dull the pain of being crowned NME's "worst band of 2008"?

Seasick Steve
Brief bio: Late-blooming Mississippi bluesman who sounds like a mutant cross between Howlin' Wolf and Tony Joe White.

Nominated for: Best international male

He says: "I'm using one old microphone from the 1930s. I got one of them old stove's that's always warm, kinda like an Aga, and I just sat right there and recorded a whole album like that." (Blues In London)

We say: Despite having no birth certificate, he claims to be the oldest ever Brit nominee.

The Streets
Brief bio: The Streets are a one-man hip-hop band better known as Birmingham musician Mike Skinner. Hailed as Britain's Eminem, his recent material has struggled to sell in the same quantities as early hits Fit But You Know It and Dry Your Eyes.

Nominated for: Best British male

He says: "I'm the Pablo Picasso of geezer garage, aren't I?" (Guardian)

We say: The former Ibiza party boy revealed himself to be a chin-stroking philosopher on last year's Everything Is Borrowed. This sort of reinvention plays well with voters at the Oscars - but the Brits??!

Gary Barlow
Brief bio: Former boyband who escaped the shadow of their past - and Robbie Williams - to reinvent themselves as mature, Radio 2-friendly balladeers.

Nominated for: Best British group

What they say: "We get a bit emotional just thinking about how well Take That have done since the reunion and [their current album] The Circus is the extremely nice icing on the top of a ruddy marvellous cake." (Channel 4)

We say: If they win, Take That become the most successful group in Brits history. Cripes.

Ting Tings
Brief bio: Boy-girl duo Katie White and Jules De Martino, whose infectious, vibrant tunes have managed the remarkable feat of establishing pop success while maintaining indie credibility.

Nominated for: Best British album and breakthrough

What they say: "You could call the Ting Tings the upside-down White Stripes. Or you could just call them the best new band in Britain, a best new band who have done everything themselves." (Times)

We say: What an almighty racket.

The Verve
Brief bio: On-again, off-again, on-again rock band fronted by snake-hipped indie god Richard Ashcroft.

Nominated for: Best British live act

What they say: "The Verve are an odd band, having become world-famous for two songs Bitter Sweet Symphony and The Drugs Don't Work that sound completely unlike the remarkably consistent sonic soup that makes up the rest of their music." (Telegraph)

We say: The Verve could be the perfect pints-aloft, football terrace, sing-along band - but they lose points for the protracted muso wig-outs.

Paul Weller
Brief bio: Weller, who picked up the Brits' outstanding contribution prize in 2006, started his career with The Jam and The Style Council before breaking out on his own in the 1990s.

Nominated for: Best British male

He says: "I never, ever wanted to be the Rolling Stones. Bless their hearts but I don't necessarily want to go on doing the same old thing for the next 10, 20 years."

We say: If Paul Weller scoops an award, he will become only the second artist to get a Brit after being presented with the lifetime achievement award. The other is Elton John.

Kanye West
Brief bio: Hip-hop pioneer blessed with herculean self-belief. West ditched rap in 2008 to pour his heart out on his fourth album, 808s and Heartbreaks, which chronicled a split from his long-term girlfriend and the untimely death of his mother.

Nominated for: Best international male

He says: "I'm kind of a minimalist. The more and more skilled I get at interior design and architecture stuff, the things that appeal to me are very minimal but functional spaces so I wanted my tracks to be minimal but functional." (MTV)

We say: At the O2 last year, West said any journalist who criticised him would be "smacked in the face". Luckily, we think he is the most awesomest musician in the universe.

Will Young
Brief bio: Dashing, proudly middle class, and oh-so-handsome, Young has handled his career with quiet confidence since winning Pop Idol in 2002.

Nominated for: Best British male

Random trivia: Will never drinks at the Brits because he once had a nightmare that, as they announced his name from the stage, he was stuck in the loo.

We say: Unlikely to win - but it's always good to have him around.

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