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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 07:41 GMT
Brit Awards 2008
Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys - up for three awards

The countdown to the 2008 Brit Awards is over and the finest in rock and pop have descended on Earls Court for tonight's ceremony.

With the Oustanding Contribution To Music Award already firmly in the bag for Sir Paul McCartney, the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs are set to go head to head with top pop acts Take That, Mika, Leona Lewis and Girls Aloud for the major honours.

In the best British album category it's a straight fight between Arctic Monkeys with Favourite Worst Nightmare, Take That's Beautiful World, Mika's Life In Cartoon Motion, Mark Ronson's Version and Leona Lewis' Spirit, which is currently the fatest selling British debut album ever.

Take That, who reformed in 2006, line up against Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Editors and and Girls Aloud in the best British group category while the same acts, bar Girls Aloud and Editors, will also lock horns for best British live act alongside Muse and Klaxons.

Public vote

A live public vote will decide who walks away with the best British single award with Lewis' chart topper Bleeding Love, Mika's Grace Kelly, Take That's Shine, Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse's cover of The Zutons hit Valerie and The Hoosiers' debut single Worried About Ray all in the running after being cut down from an initial shortlist of 10.

Leona Lewis
Leona Lewis is up for several awards, including Best British album

On the solo artist front Jamie T, Mark Ronson, Mika, Newton Faulkner and former Pulp guitarist Richard Hawley are up for best British male artist.

Kate Nash, KT Tunstall, Leona Lewis, Mercury Music Prize nominee Bat For Lashes and PJ Harvey will battle it out for best British female.

In the international categories, it's a tough call in the group shortlist with Kings Of Leon, Foo Fighters, The White Stripes, Arcade Fire and The Eagles vying for the top accolade.

It's a similar story in the album category with the same acts battling it out, except for The White Stripes who make way for Kylie Minogue.

'Glam versus punk'

Matt Phillips from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), who organise the Brit Awards, says the ceremony has a “massive impact on the acts nominated.”
In the case of Amy Winehouse... it was perfect timing for her in terms of record sales
Matt Phillips, BPI

He said: “The Brits generate an enormous amount of interest in record sales and for a lot of artists it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time.

“In the case of Amy Winehouse, her album came out at the end of 2006. She had been already been talked about and there was lots of media coverage so it was perfect timing for her in terms of record sales.”

Organisers of the event have confirmed that Doctor Who actor David Tennant and Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian McKellan will be among the stars presenting awards. R&B singer Kelly Rowland, Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto, actor James Nesbitt and Radio 1's Chris Moyles will also present.

This year the ceremony will be flanked by two stages to mark the theme of "glam versus punk" while Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne will present the show sat on thrones from either side.

There will also be live performances from Paul McCartney, Kylie Minogue, Amy Winehouse, Mika and as previously reported on Newsbeat, a special duet with Klaxons and Rihanna.

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