The 40th Brit Awards take place today at the O2 Arena in London. While the anniversary should be an excuse to celebrate the UK’s biggest music awards show, a quick glance at the nominations and you’d be forgiven for thinking things haven’t really moved on in the past four decades.
Women account for just four of the nominations across the four categories open to male and female artists, while men have 26 nominations in the same categories.
Mabel is up for two of those four nominations, for New Artist of the Year and Song of the Year. Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus has a nomination for her Mark Ronson collaboration “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”, and Normani for co-writing and performing on “Dancing with a Stranger” with Sam Smith.
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This year’s awards are led by Lewis Capaldi and rapper Dave, who have four nominations apiece. Their debut albums, Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent (Capaldi) and Psychodrama (Dave) are nominated for Album of the Year, and both artists are up for Best new Artist and Male Solo Artist.
Have a look to see our thoughts on who will win – and who should win – at the Brit Awards this year.
Male Solo Artist
This feels like a particularly strong category this year, and any of the five nominees would be a worthy winner. Dave’s nomination follows his win at the 2019 Mercury Prize for his debut album Psychodrama, which was hailed by The Independent as a collection of “astute and deeply personal” tracks.
Harry Styles achieved a number one album in the US with his second solo record, the rock-influenced Fine Line, while Lewis Capaldi shattered a number of records and scored the biggest-selling UK artist of 2019, largely down to the runaway success of his single “Someone You Loved” and his debut album Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent. He is also the only one of the five artists who received a Grammy nomination at this year’s ceremony, for “Someone You Loved” (Song of the Year), which spent three weeks at the top of the US charts.
Michael Kiwanuka garnered critical acclaim for his album, Kiwanuka, which ended up on a number of “Best of 2019” lists, as did Stormzy for his second record Heavy is the Head.
Who will win: Lewis Capaldi
Who should win: Michael Kiwanuka
Female Solo Artist:
This category tends to be rather depressing simply because the same artists crop up again and again. While there are a few fresh faces in this year’s set of nominations, it’s by no means as inspiring a group as the Male Solo Artist category. Mabel, Mahali and Freya Ridings are all riding mostly on the success of one or two songs, while Charli XCX received muted reactions to her third studio album Charli. FKA twigs is arguably the most critically adored of the five and received praise for her adventurous and deeply personal album Magdalene, but the record failed to make the top 20 on the UK charts, while Mabel’s debut High Expectations made it to number three.
Who will win: Mabel
Who should win: FKA twigs
Again, this category tends to bring up the same faces each year – although 2020 shows a little more diversity in terms of genre, at least. Bastille are up for their hit 2019 album Doom Days, which made the top five on the US Billboard 200 as well as in the UK. It’s a surprise to see a metal band (go on, hardcore mental fans, say they’re not “real heavy metal”) on the list, in the shape of Bring Me the Horizon – their sixth album Amo was an adventurous blend of metal, rock and even electronic music, which made it to number one on the UK album charts.
Brit Award favourites Coldplay are nominated following the release of their album, Everyday Life, which received mostly positive reviews from critics (The Independent gave it three stars), and debuted at number one on the UK album charts. It was also the third fastest-selling album of 2019 in the UK, behind Capaldi and Ed Sheeran’s No 6 Collaborations Project. D-Block Europe are newcomers but had a successful year that included two sold-out shows at Alexandra Palace, while Foals enjoyed a huge reception at Glastonbury Festival in between the release of parts one and two of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost.
Who will win: Coldplay
Who should win: Foals
Best New Artist
Three of the nominees in this category (Capaldi, Dave, Sam Fender) are also up for some of the biggest awards, so you wonder if the voting academy will decide to let rapper Aitch or singer-songwriter Sam Fender share the spotlight. Given the Brits’ previously mentioned tendency to favour commercial success, however, Capaldi seems likely to get a prize for being one of the few UK artists to break America in the past five years.
Who will win: Lewis Capaldi
Who should win: Sam Fender
Song of the Year
Ten tracks are nominated for this accolade, among them hits such as AJ Tracey’s garage-influenced “Ladbroke Grove” and Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved” (which, as much as many will tell you is about his ex-girlfriend, is actually about his dead grandmother). Really, this is anyone’s guess – all have been massive in terms of streaming and radio play. Duets were big in 2019, so if Capaldi doesn’t get it, it seems that one of the collaborations will. For me, it’s a toss-up between Sam Smith and Normani on “Dancing with a Stranger”, and Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus’s sad banger “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”.
Who will win: Lewis Capaldi – “Someone You Loved”
Who should win: Sam Smith and Normani – “Dancing with a Stranger”
Mastercard Album of the Year
Basically, re-read what’s been said about the Male Solo award. It’s literally all of the same artists: Dave, Harry Styles, Capaldi, Kiwanuka and Stormzy. “No women, please, we’re the Brits.”
Who will win: Stormzy – Heavy is the Head
Who should win: Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
International Male Solo Artist
The international categories are usually the most interesting – this year it’s certainly a mixed bag. You have elder statesman Bruce Springsteen, who released his sweeping, cinematic record Western Stars last year, and Irish breakthrough artist Dermot Kennedy. Post Malone is on there – I’m not really sure why – as is Afrobeats king Burna Boy and US hip-hop star Tyler, the Creator.
Who will win: Dermot Kennedy
Who should win: Tyler, the Creator
International Female Solo Artist
Ariana Grande, Lana Del Rey and Camila Cabello will be well-acquainted with the Brits by now, but Billie Eilish and Lizzo have both received their first-ever nominations – although Lizzo attended last year’s ceremony just for the hell of it. Eilish is scheduled to perform at this week’s ceremony, so it seems unlikely she’d be sent home empty-handed.
Who will win: Billie Eilish
Who should win: Billie Eilish
The 2020 Brit Awards take place at the O2 Arena in London tonight – follow The Independent for live coverage