FEATURE: The BRIT Awards 2019: Part One: Ladies, Gentlemen and Brilliant British Albums




The BRIT Awards 2019



Part One: Ladies, Gentlemen and Brilliant British Albums


THE nominations have come in for The BRIT Awards...

 IN THIS PHOTO: Anne-Marie has been nominated for four BRIT Awards (including British Female)/PHOTO CREDIT: Spotify

and there are some great names in the list (the ceremony takes place on Wednesday, 20th February). Past years have seen many criticise the rather Pop-orientated nature and the fact that it seems to reflect what’s in the charts and nothing else. I do wonder how much we pay attention to music award shows and whether they hold the same weight as they used to. Maybe some are homogenised and it can be quite galling seeing the genuine best overlooked in favour of something more commercial and Pop-facing. I agree that The BRITS have suffered from that single-minded attention to Pop and not really diversified. The past couple of years have rectified this and we are seeing improvement. This year’s nominations are available for all to see and showcase a diverse mix of artists and tastes. It is interesting to see how the award show has grown the past couple of years and the fact the outlook is a lot better. There are a range of categories and I already have my feelings regarding the best and brightest. I shall provide some predications regarding each award but feel that all the nominated acts deserve their place and it good to see The BRIT Awards reflecting a diverse music scene and drawing attention to a wider range.



British Breakthrough Act

I feel like this category could widen a bit and you could throw a few more names into the mix! The five names nominated this year are IDLES, Ella Mai; Jorja Smith, Mabel and Tom Walker. I feel like it has been a great time for new artists and we are seeing more and more terrific sounds flood the market. I think Ella Mai has had a great year but do feel like her time is around the corner. Her eponymous album was released last year and received some warm praise. I like the sound she is producing but feel that her best work is a couple of years away. She is one to keep an eye out for. I think Jorja Smith is more formed and seems like she has hit her stride right away. Her Mercury-nominated debut, Lost & Found, scored some big reviews and, while there are nods to Amy Winehouse in the vocals, she is an original artist who is producing some sumptuous, fantastic and soulful tracks. She is a British star that will continue to make music for a long time. Mabel and Tom Walker have both had great years (2018). Mabel’s Ivy to Roses (Mixtape) drew in a few collaborators but the abiding and standout voice was hers. You would not expect anything less from Neneh Cherry’s daughter and I feel like Mabel is one of those artists who will forge her own path and build a huge fanbase. Tom Walker has released a few singles and has an intriguing sound. His recent track, Just You and I, is full of life and energy and I think Walker will enjoy a long career. I think IDLES have had a sensation past few years. Their debut, Brutalism, came out in 2017 and was denied of some much-deserved awards. Last year’s Joy as an Act of Resistance. scored massive love and their tour demands are through the roof! The band has a lot of dates coming up around the world and they are storming it right now. Their album reflected the sort of tensions we all have and delivered big messages with plenty of heart and humour.


Predicted Winner: IDLES

British Male Solo Act

This is a hard one to call and there is definitely a good mixture in there! I think Aphex Twin have been around a long time and it would be unusual to see them win the award. I am not sure whether the panel are looking for the best British artist from the year (2018) or looking to address those who have the most potential. I love Aphex Twin and their Collapse EP received a lot of new love. It is a fantastic work but not as good as their classic output. It would be good to see them win, mind. Craig David and George Ezra are nominated and they have both produced great work recently. Ezra’s album, Staying at Tamara’s, proved popular and seemed like a maturation. I am not a huge fan of his but think his popularity is well earned and he is someone who can produce simple and charming songs that get under the skin. Craig David is another one of those established acts and released The Time Is Now last year. The man has not put out a great deal of work the past few years but he is definitely back on the scene and has always had a place in the market. I like the fact he has not repeated the sound of his early days but definitely has retained that core. Giggs and Sam Smith seem more likely to win the award. Smith released his last album, The Thrill of It All, in 2017 and has been busy since then. Wamp 2 Dem was Giggs’ last album back in 2017 so, although neither has released albums in 2018, they are definitely in the mindset and big artists. This will be a tough category to call and there is a great variation in there. I like the mix of established acts and newcomers and it will be good to see the award go to legends like Aphex Twin – I do not feel they will scoop it. It is a good award for a British male to win because it will aid their career and see them gain a new audience.


Predicted Winner: Sam Smith

British Female Solo Act

This is a category I am more invested in and I am always keen to highlight fantastic female artists. Many assume the best female acts are American but it is obvious we have some great talent in this country. Two artists who have been nominated before are Anne-Marie and Jess Glynne. Speak Your Mind was released late last year and scored great reviews. It is her most confident and rounded work and many noted a maturity and rise in quality. Anne-Marie has produced great music since the start of her career but it seems like she has hit her peak form. Given the big reaction to her album, would you count against her winning the converted prize?! Many might be confused by the fact Dua Lipa – who won the award last year – is not included. Jess Glynne’s inclusion is understandable because she continues to score big hits and reign. Always In Between was released last year and got some fair praise. Whilst not as strong as some of her other work, it is a solid album and had enough quality in there to keep her fans happy. Jorja Smith is back on the list and feel she could turn heads at The BRITS next month. Certainly, she is very different to the Pop names who have won in the past and the fact she was nominated for a Mercury last year means she has the backing of the industry. I am not shocked to see a fellow Mercury nominee Lily Allen in there. She is always in our minds and last year’s No Shame talked about personal struggles and really delved deep. Although Allen missed out on a Mercury, could this be rectified by The BRITS?! I feel, given her reputation and past work, you can never bet against her. Again, another Mercury nominee is on the list – in the form of Florence + the Machine. It makes things tough to call and I feel this category will be one of the very hardest to predict. I feel there is more strength in the female category (compared to the men) and this is really tricky. I love Florence + the Machine and always buy her records. I do wonder which way this award will go and whether a more mainstream artist like Jess Glynne is preferred over someone like Jorja Smith.

Predicted Winner: Jorja Smith

British Group

This is another eclectic and interesting category. I think there are some great British groups but many say it is solo artists dominating right now! That said, we have some established artists in the running. Gorillaz will be among the favourites to win this and after releasing The Now Now last year, they have fresh material out there. I feel this album is one of their stronger works so it means one could easily see them winning the award. Talk about a rise in popularity and The 1975 are in your mind. They released A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships late last year and it was one of the contenders for the best album of 2018. I feel the sheer celebration that record received will tip the scales their way but there is a lot of competition. Little Mix continue to put out interesting work and have recently spoken out against body-shaming and Piers Morgan. It is clear they have a strong voice and are keen to say something important through their work. Last year’s LM5 gained respectful reviews and it is a potent Pop album. Years & Years are a great band who continues to grow so I do wonder whether this will be their year. Last year’s Palo Santo scored big respect and it would be good to see that translate into awards. Many will have their own opinions but there is that split between the more commercial Pop side and artists like Gorillaz. One notices the lack of guitars in the line-up and I do wonder whether tastes have changed and we will see a return to the past. I like the fact band music has changed but am concerned there is a lack of great guitar bands in the country. Arctic Monkeys are also nominated and last year’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino did get a Mercury nod. I think they are one of the best bands we have in the country but wonder whether their slight change of musical direction will affect their chances. Their latest record is terrific but many were divided and felt it was not as rewarding and great as their classic records.


Predicted Winner: The 1975

Mastercard British Album of the Year

Aside from the corporate sponsor attached to this award – I guess Hyundai sponsoring the Mercury is no different! – it is a great category! The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships faces Anne-Marie’s Speak Your Mind; Florence + the Machine’s High as Hope goes against George Ezra’s Staying at Tamara’s and Lost & Found from Jorja Smith. I like the fact there is consistency and we are seeing the same artists appear in different categories. It means there is a consistency but I wonder whether overlooking the Arctic Monkeys is wise. I guess you have to draw a line but it is still a rich and interesting category. I feel like the outsiders will be George Ezra and Jorja Smith. I would love Smith to win and feel her album is incredible but there are three names that stand out. The 1975 got a lot of focus with A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships and Anne-Marie’s latest record is her best. Florence + the Machine continue to produce fantastic music and Florence Welch is one of the best songwriters in the country. It is another tricky award to call but I do think there is a clear winner. Whoever wins the award, it shows there is a varied and great scene in Britain and our best artists are stepping up. I do like the fact that The BRITS are recognising female artists more and the fact the majority of the names in this category are female is a good shout. This category will be hotly-contested and I feel like the bookies will struggle to decide. I feel there is only one who can win this one, mind...

Predicted Winner: The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships