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Brit Awards Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 12:49 GMT
Reasons to be cheerful
The past 12 months have not been the most memorable in the history of British music. But according to Q magazine's music specialist Iestyn George, there is some hope for the future among this year's Brit nominations.

How we love to hate The Brit Awards. We mumble words like predictable, boring... the antithesis of what rock 'n' roll, in its loosest term, is what it's all about - we rant.

Up to a point, we're right. Clearly, the music of Groove Armada, for instance, was not conceived with the sole intention of being involved in a glorified Battle Of The Bands competition with Adam Rickitt.
Supergrass' Gaz Coombes
Supergrass' Gaz Coombes: Survivor of the Britpop boom
What the Brits certainly aren't is cool. Thankfully, image is less important to our nation's musical heroes than one might think.

When it comes to getting on prime-time telly and having the opportunity to sell a few more records off the back of it, you'll be surprised how enticing the proposition of playing in front of an aircraft hanger full of well-lubricated music industry people can become.

As a result, The Brits will always be - well, The Brits. This year however, the triumphalism of yesteryear might not be as apparent. Was it just five years ago that everybody was charging around the place proclaiming the UK to be the cultural epicentre of the world?

Great expectations

Oasis were threatening to become the biggest band in the US since The Beatles, the Spice Girls were about to execute a global pop takeover. Did Liam and Patsy really grace the cover of Vanity Fair draped in a Union Jack?
V2 boss Sir Richard Branson with Mel C
V2 boss Sir Richard Branson with Mel C
Britannia has cooled considerably since then. Oasis never got round to slaying the States and while the Spice Girls achieved considerably more than just notoriety, their celebrity status currently overshadows their pop power.

Things have changed since the youngest partner in the Gallagher family business swapped lie-ins wrapped up in the British flag for nights of sleepless domesticity with little Lennon.

As for the young pretenders of their time, Cast, Ocean Colour Scene and Supergrass, among others, only the 'Grass are still considered worthy of nomination in 2000.

It's not all boom and bust, however. Stereophonics and Travis have both risen through the ranks with extraordinary stealth, the latter not even considered worthy of a place on the main stage at V99 last summer.
Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit in 1996
The good old days? Liam and Patsy in 1996
Last time Stereophonics won an award (Best Newcomer, 1998) they were booed onto the stage for beating All Saints to the prize. As befits the fickle nature of this business they'll have rose petals strewn in their path this time round.

Travis, hopefully, won't have to endure the fate of Catatonia who had two years' worth of of nominations before being cast aside. A Brit each then, with a secret toss of the coin backstage to see who wins Best Group and Best Album.

In the wake of January's merger between the last British-owned major record company, EMI, and US-owned Warner Music, the future of the British-owned music industry appears to lie with smaller labels.

Indie future

V2, headed by Richard Branson, has financial clout as well as the Stereophonics. Independiente has Travis. If these labels are able to tough it out for the next few years and their bands continue to flourish, then things might begin to look a bit brighter.

But for the time being we'll have to settle for what we've got. And with no dramatic global success to speak of over the last year, it's no wonder this year's Brit Awards are a likely to be comparatively low-key.
Tom Jones
Best British Male nominee Tom Jones
Normally Robbie Williams' presence would gladden the heart, but his single nomination this year due to an eligibility hiccup means he'll have to sit there with a gracious smile on his face while Bowie, Van Morrison, Ian Brown, Tom Jones and Sting gamely slug it out for Best Solo artist - tired heavyweights to a man.

At least Tom's flogged a few records for a change - two million copies of Reload, in fact. But where's Fatboy Slim when you need him?

The Best British Female category isn't much to fuss about either (Mel C? Hello?!!), particularly in comparison with International Females of the calibre and commercial clout of Britney, Whitney, Macy Gray, Mary J Blige and Jennifer Lopez (Shania Twain being another victim of the eligibility rules).

There are so many nominees in the Best British Newcomer category (Ann Lee could well be older than Charlotte Church's mam!) that there has been mention of including its very own sub-section.

At least Gay Dad, Death In Vegas, the Beta Band and Unkle would stand a chance if there was a God Help Us If There's A War category.
Macy Gray
Tip for Best International Newcomer: Macy Gray
With Leftfield, Basement Jaxx, The Chemical Brothers, Moloko, Aphex Twin and the aforementioned Fatboy all mentioned in dispatches, it seems that electronic music has finally been accepted and intergrated by an industry that initially dismissed its commercial potential.

If you've got more money than sense, stick a few quid on the following - Five for Best Pop Act, TLC for Best International Group and Macy Gray for Best International Newcomer.

Otherwise, sit back and watch the music industry slapping itself heartily on the back at the prospect of selling a few more of its CDs on the back of the free publicity.

And keep your fingers crossed that V2 and Independiente reap the rewards they're due.

See also:

29 Feb 00 | Brit Awards
29 Feb 00 | Brit Awards
31 Jan 00 | Entertainment
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