Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The lowdown on Brits nominees

From household names to newcomers, entertainment reporters Ian Youngs and Mark Savage take an affectionate (and sometimes irreverent) look at the artists nominated for the Brit Awards 2010.

Lily Allen

Brief bio: Straight-talking pop star, whose disarmingly frank lyrics would make her father blush, if her father wasn't Keith Allen.

Nominated for: Best British female, album and single

What they say: "Allen remains a child of the hip-hop era: A pop singer with a rapper's love of the well-turned couplet and well-aimed diss." (Rolling Stone)

We say: Despite rave reviews for her second album, Lily has turned her back on music, walked away from the internet, stopped speaking to her teddy bear and decided to set up a fashion boutique. Some people, eh?

Animal Collective

Brief bio: Avant-garde quartet whose eighth album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, has been called an "orgasmic rush of danceable rock".

Nominated for: Best international album and breakthrough act

They say: "We all grew up in a semi-rural environment around a lot of trees. We also grew up with a hyper awareness of what it is to be in imaginary, spiritual states," founding member Josh Dibb. (Junk Media)

We say: They come from Baltimore, home of The Wire. Not to be confused with Baltimora, of Tarzan Boy "fame".

Bat For Lashes

Brief bio: Bat For Lashes is the stage name of 30-year-old musical shaman Natasha Khan, who listed David Attenborough among the inspirations for her second album Two Suns.

Nominated for: Best British female

What they say: "Dark, but never needlessly so, Two Suns offers a rich, distinct world of subterranean lullabies, spacey timbres, and ghostly beauty." (Slant Magazine)

We say: Bat For Lashes looks like a Pixie, unlike fellow nominee Pixie Lott, who looks like a bat.

Black Eyed Peas

Brief bio: Globe-straddling hip-hop collective, led by the enigmatic and typographically hard-to-render rapper

Nominated for: Best international album

They say: "You've got to get on the dancefloor. It's the only thing left to do, cos the sky is falling." (BBC)

We say: Each of the Black Eyed Peas' last three albums have sold more than a million copies in the UK, but the band have never won a Brit.

Michael Buble

Brief bio: Fisherman's son, born in Vancouver. Your mum likes him.

Nominated for: Best international male

He says: "This is why I wanted to be different and why I wanted to have power and fame and money - because I wanted to be attractive to the opposite sex." (Telegraph)

We say: Ooooh, that Michael Buble. If it wasn't for your father...

Alexandra Burke

Brief bio: Amazonian X Factor winner, born in Islington, London. Hits include Bad Boys, Broken Heels and Hallelujah.

Nominated for: Best British single

She says: "It really is a dream come true." (Newsbeat)

We say: On Bad Boys, guest rapper Flo Rida very clearly refers to Alexandra as "Alexander". What does he know that we don't?

Cheryl Cole

Brief bio: Geordie wallflower, one-fifth of Girls Aloud, had mildly successful solo career in 2009.

Nominated for: Best British single

She says: "I do worry about things, I'm probably going to end up dying with worry. I was clinically depressed once after a bad relationship. We have it in the family." (Vogue)

We say: If she wins, Cole will finally be able to afford a tailor to repair those trousers.

Taio Cruz

Brief bio: R&B star Cruz, 26, has worked with Tinchy Stryder, Sugababes and Cheryl Cole, but saves the best songs for himself - including last year's number one single Break Your Heart.

Nominated for: Best British single

Random trivia: Taio wrote Will Young's Your Game - a Brit Award winner in 2005.

We say: Taio has been touted as Britain's answer to Usher, but his album sales have yet to match his singles success.

Alesha Dixon

Brief bio: Former Strictly Come Dancing champion, with background in R&B. Liked by everyone except Arlene Phillips (probably).

Nominated for: Best British single

She says: "I was half-way through making my album when I was offered Strictly. I was scared to say yes, because I was worried people in the music industry wouldn't take me seriously as an artist." (Digital Spy)

We say: Alesha's head is almost as tiny as the one on the Brits statuette.

Dizzee Rascal

Brief bio: London-based grime MC, who discovered dance music and scored a brace of number one hits. Performed a memorable duet with Shirley Bassey for Children In Need last year.

Nominated for: Best British male and album

He says: "Dizzee Rascal for prime minister, yeah! What's 'appenin?! Barack Obama embraced hip-hop, man. That's the way he got through to kids. There was a more young vote ever. And it was through hip-hop." (Newsnight)

We say: Vote Dizzee!


Brief bio: Manchester trio Doves rose from the embers of 90s dance act Sub Sub (literally - their studio burnt down, taking all their work with it). The filmic, rain-soaked indie anthems of their fourth album Kingdom Of Rust were hailed as their most rewarding yet.

Nominated for: Best British group

They say: "It's a cliche to say that nice guys always finish last - but Doves have perhaps never gained the recognition they deserve." (Music OMH)

We say: They may not be household names but Doves are successful enough to drop sentences like "it was actually more practical to build our own studio" into everyday conversation.


Brief bio: Formerly controversial rapper from Detroit, who came out of retirement to record an album about his relapse into drug addiction.

Nominated for: Best international male

He says: "I certainly wouldn't want the pressure of trying to be a hip-hop savior or anything like that. I'm just now back at a point where I'm having fun again with rap." (Metro Times)

We say: Eminem's comeback single, We Made You, argued that Lindsay Lohan and Portia Di Rossi were too pretty to be gay. The song also included fart sound effects. There are eight-year-olds with more satirical sophistication.

Empire Of The Sun

Brief bio: Frightwigged Australian duo, playing cosmic disco in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

Nominated for: Best international album and breakthrough

What they say: "Fantasists inflamed by lush, intricate psychedelia and falsetto vocal arrangements." (The Independent)

We say: In September, singer Luke Steele claimed his bandmate, Nick Littlemore, had "disappeared" and "left me with the baby". They had a baby??!

Paul Epworth with Florence and the Machine

Brief bio: Genial knob-twiddler, who has produced records for Florence And The Machine, Friendly Fires, Bloc Party and... er, Kate Nash. That's him on the right.

Recipient of: Best producer (handed out at the Music Producers' Guild Awards last week)

What they say: "Woken up this morning with a Brit besides my bed, I am over the moon and so chuffed. Thank you very much x" (Twitter)

We say: You may not know his name, but he knows how to make a song stand out on the radio.

Florence and Machine

Brief bio: Pale-faced warbler Florence Welch has dominated the charts with a series of wild, elemental art-rock hymnals - justifying her critics' choice win at last year's ceremony.

Nominated for: Best British female, breakthrough and album

What she says: "I've got my ideal job. I like to sing, I like to dance, I like to bang drums and dress up, and someone pays me - it's incredible!" (Telegraph)

We say: Florence is a pretty good benchmark for what it would look like if God came to earth and turned all the muppets into humans.

Friendly Fires

Brief bio: Mercury-nominated, sensibly dressed dance-rock outfit from St Albans. A gift to the editor who makes the goal montages for Match Of The Day.

Nominated for: Best British breakthrough

What they say: "There's a certain preconception about Friendly Fires that, because they're from St Albans, they mince around in straw boaters singing about the rules of backgammon." (NME)

We say: We wish they were playing the Brits ceremony: Singer Ed Liddle dances like a sheep urinating on an electrified fence.

Ellie Goulding

Brief bio: Winsome singer-songwriter whose "folktronica" sound combines acoustic balladry with cutting-edge electro-pop. A bit like Everything But The Girl.

Recipient of: Critics' choice award

She says: "Loneliness helps me write a lot of my songs but I have a feeling it is sleeping with the enemy." (Funkism)

We say: Before she becomes a mega-star, you can literally catch Ellie as she runs along the Thames towpath to Richmond.

Calvin Harris

Brief bio: Freakishly tall Scottish dance producer. Received a lifetime ban from the X Factor after invading the stage during a Jedward performance with a pineapple on his head.

Nominated for: Best British male

He says: "I just got my iTunes statement through and to be honest with you it doesn't even cover a packet of Fruit Pastilles." (Popjustice)

We say: Try following Calvin's Twitter feed for such fascinating updates as "Lost at Monopoly" and "REMEMBERED MY SANDWICH TODAY".


Brief bio: Known to his mother as Shawn Carter, rapper Jay-Z has been at the top of his game for 14 years. He recently scored his biggest-ever UK hit with the autobiographical paean to New York, Empire State Of Mind.

Nominated for: Best international male and album

He says: "For me, being with Obama or having dinner with Bill Clinton... It's crazy. It's mind-blowing, because where I come from is just another world. We were just ignored by politicians - by America in general." (Interview magazine)

We say: Never one to hide his light under a bushel, Jay-Z compared himself to "Sinatra at the opera" on the single Death Of Autotune.


Brief bio: Screamworthy X Factor graduates. The first new boy band to make an impact on the charts since Westlife.

Nominated for: Best British breakthrough, group and single

What they say: "In a year we've gone from being unknown to having thousands of people want to watch us switch a light on." (The Scotsman)

We say: According to anthropologists, JLS audiences (Aston! Marvin! Ortise! The other one!) are the natural predator of St John Ambulance crews.

Norah Jones

Brief bio: After selling more than 40m albums of smooth jazz, Norah Jones veered into more adventurous waters for the brooding, noir soundscapes of breakup album The Fall.

Nominated for: Best international female

They say: "A better record than Come Away With Me - less piano bar, more honkey-tonk." (Spin Magazine)

We say: A wake-up call for the critics who dubbed her "Snorah Jones".


Brief bio: Grandiloquent rockers, who recruited hip-hop producer Dan The Automator to shake up their third album, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum.

Nominated for: Best British group and album

The band says: "It's easy to lose touch, but then again we live in Leicester, so when we're going back there they take the piss out of our clothes or trousers or hair whatever, and that kinda brings us down the ground." (Q Magazine)

We say: Is it just us, or are Kasabian's references to Shakespeare and Jorge Luis Borges just bait for Guardian journalists?

Lady GaGa

Brief bio: Fiercely driven pop behemoth. She has sold 8m copies of her albums The Fame and Fame Monster in just 18 months - that's more than 14,000 a day.

Nominated for: Best international female, album and breakthrough

She says: "My album covers are not sexual at all, which was an issue at my record label. I fought for months, and I cried at meetings. They didn't think the photos were commercial enough." (Elle Magazine)

We say: Ga Ga, ooh la la, waanjurrbaaromaaance.


Brief bio: New Zealand's Pip Brown is a scruffy encyclopaedia of 80s pop. Laden with Human League synths, Stevie Knicks vocals and Pat Benatar riffs, her self-titled debut album was branded "ragged revivalism" by critics.

Nominated for: Best international female

She says: "I can play a drum kit. I can play most percussion instruments. I can read percussional music like timpani and glockenspiel. Guitar, bass guitar, synth and piano. That's about it." (Time Out Sydney)

We say: A worthy nominee - but how did Ladyhawke manage to edge out perennial Brit favourite Alicia Keys from the best international female category?

La Roux

Brief bio: Ice-cold pop duo La Roux scored a massive number one hit with In For The Kill last year, taking many radio stations, who considered Elly Jackson's shrill vocals to be too off-putting for daytime audiences, by surprise. Jackson remains chiefly known for her ginger quiff.

Nominated for: Best British breakthrough, single

They say: "Elly's voice is still young, a little thing, fine in the lower registers but tinnitus-triggering when she gets up high. God knows what it's like for the dog." (The Guardian)

We say: Is "we get ever so hot" (from In For The Kill) the poshest pop lyric of all time?

Leona Lewis

Brief bio:

Simon Cowell's sole vindication for six long years of the X Factor. Has quite a set of pipes.

Nominated for: Best British female

She says: "There was a man on the street and I saw he had a bag near him and there was a rabbit sleeping on it. I was really, really concerned for her. I offered him some money and said I'd take her home and look after her. He charged me $100" (T4)

We say: While other artists were quibbling over the Brits' running order, Lewis had more pressing concerns: She threatened to boycott the ceremony if they didn't take Foie Gras off the menu. The Brits relented. Music, as always, was the real winner.

Joe McElderry

Brief bio: Newcastle's most recent talent show victor. Denied the Christmas number one by Rage Against The Machine who, sadly, are not nominated for a Brit.

Nominated for: Best single

He says: "I went to see Wicked yesterday at the Apollo Theatre. I love that musical - it's so clever. And, I got to meet the cast after the show - they were lovely!" (Joe's Blog)

We say: Who will be first to "hilariously" refer to the 18-year-old as Joe McElderberry? Oh, it was us...

Daniel Merriweather

Brief bio:

Mark Ronson-endorsed soul singer, from Melbourne, Australia. His debut album Love & War entered the UK charts at number two.

Nominated for: Best international breakthrough

He says: "When I was really young, I'd busk with the violin. I made about a dollar a minute. I'm sure I blew it all on candy." (The London Paper)

We say: Oddly low-key for someone with such a charismatic voice.


Brief bio: Lebanese-born, curly-haired bundle of pop energy. His second album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, is a big hit in France.

Nominated for: Best British male

He says: "Do you know I've been made a Chevalier of Arts and Letters in France?" (Yorkshire Evening Post)

We say: Despite all evidence to the contrary, Mika is not colour blind.


Brief bio: The loudest, riffing-est, most bombastic band on the shortlist, Muse have conquered planet rock with their fifth studio album, The Resistance.

Nominated for: Best British group

Random Trivia: All three members of Muse have an honorary doctorate from the University of Plymouth for their contribution to music.

We say: Endorsed by none other than Brian May, Muse perfectly straddle the chasm between "epic rock" and "a bit silly".

Paolo Nutini

Brief bio: The son of a chip shop owner from Glasgow and the last UK artist signed by the legendary Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. Likes to sing with his eyes closed.

Nominated for: Best British male and album

What they say: "My voice has opened up. Going on the road and touring, drinking and smoking ain't that good for your voice, so by rights I shouldn't be able to hit higher notes than I've hit before. But for some reason I can." (The Big Issue)

We say: Cod reggae and chips twice please.

Pixie Lott

Brief bio: Playful, pretty pop sprite who bunked off stage school to win a recording contract. Actually, her name's Victoria.

Nominated for: Best British female, breakthrough and album

She says: "Thanks so much to all of you lovely people for voting and all the lovely things you do i love you all yeaaaah" (Twitter)

We say: If Dusty Springfield had been born in 1991, she would have been writhing in her underwear on a bed of feathers too.

Seasick Steve

Brief bio: The California-born, Norway-based bluesman plays a guitar made out of a cigar box and another made of a plank of wood with a single string down the middle.

Nominated for: Best international male

He says: : "People think they found me under a bridge a few years ago but I raised five boys. I had normal jobs for 35 years. But when I was a young fella I had to leave home when I was 13 and had to do some pretty rough living." (BBC)

We say: He was nominated for the same award last year and busked outside Earls Court tube station before that ceremony. Bet Cheryl Cole couldn't do that.


Brief bio: Reared by a pack of wolves in the Colombian rainforest, the voluptuous and ever-so-slightly crazy singer, producer, belly dancer and philanthropist is now onto her sixth studio album.

Nominated for: Best international female

She says: "I think that sometimes music today can get pretty straightforward and blunt, and I refuse to let metaphors die. And I refuse to let fantasy in music die. I let my songs be the butterfly catchers." (MSNBC)

We say: Author of some of the greatest lyrics ever written: "I'm starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in an office." (She-Wolf)

Bruce Springsteen

Brief bio: The Boss returned with his ninth number one album, Working on a Dream, last year. Only Elvis, The Beatles and Jay-Z have had more US chart-toppers.

Nominated for: Best international male

What they say: "I spent most of my life as a musician measuring the distance between the American dream and American reality. For many... the distance between that dream and their reality has never been greater or more painful." (Huffington Post)

We say: His storming set at last year's Glastonbury reminded British fans what a force he is.

Tinchy Stryder

Brief bio: Colourful east London rapper Tinchy, 22, teamed up with fellow hyperpop hoodlums N-Dubz to record one of the smash hits of last year, Number One.

Nominated for: Best British single

He says: "Going to number one in the UK was a scary feeling at first, man. It felt good though, when it finally sunk in." (Mirror)

We say: Bring back the Smash Hits Poll Winners' Party.

Taylor Swift

Brief bio: Twenty-year-old whose country-leaning pop ballads and wholesome charm have made her absolutely massive in the US.

Nominated for: Best international breakthrough

She says: "I have no interest in drinking. I always want to be responsible for the things I say and do. Also, I would have a problem lying to my parents about that." (Rolling Stone)

We say: Still most famous in the UK for being interrupted by Kanye West at the MTV Awards last September. Stay away, Mr West!


Brief bio: The Barbadian singer's fourth album Rated R was written after she was assaulted by boyfriend Chris Brown. It has seen her go from mere pop superstar to fearsome, enigmatic, bona fide diva.

Nominated for: Best international female

She says: "A lot of people are saying things like, 'it's dark,' but it's a very honest album. I really vented in my music. You definitely will learn a lot about what's going through my head." (MSNBC)

We say: Rihanna did a duet with Klaxons in a neo-pagan rave-R&B mash-up atop a laser pyramid at the Brits in 2008. It didn't really work, if we're honest.

Robbie Williams

Brief bio: The one-time undisputed heavyweight champion of British pop has won more Brit Awards than any other artist, scooping 11 as a solo artist and four as a member of Take That.

Nominated for: Best British male

Recipient of: Outstanding contribution to music

He says: "It could've all gone west. I don't know if people have got their ears on for me but I'm knocking at the door going - do you want some of this again or not?" (MTV)

We say: At last year's Brits, everyone was wondering whether he would make a surprise appearance with Take That. This year, we're wondering whether they will turn up to sing with him. Please get on with this reunion thing.

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