The event, organised by U.K. trade body the BPI and sponsored by MasterCard, will be televised live on ITV1 from 8pm tonight (Feb. 16) with further content on digital channel ITV2 from 10pm. The show will hosted by comedian Peter Kay.
Both Gaga and U.K. alt-rock artist Florence and have three nominations each and they will both be performing at the Earls Court ceremony. Those performances alone should equate to more sales buzz for both artists: Gaga is guaranteed to be routinely spectacular, while Florence Welch is partnering with rapper and fellow Londoner Dizzee Rascal for a mash-up of her “You Got The Love” and his single “Dirtee Cash.”
“You Got The Dirtee Love” is being released the morning after the awards (Feb. 17) exclusively via iTunes to help raise money for the BRIT Trust, the U.K. music industry charity which benefits from proceeds from the awards.
Florence and the Machine’s debut “Lungs” (Island/Universal) hit No. 1 on the U.K. albums chart last month several months after its release, and the label said it is now up to 800,000 shipments in the U.K. Dizzee Rascal had his highest charting album last September with “Tongue N’Cheek” (Dirtee Stank), his fourth album, debuting at No. 3.
“I think it will be fairly ridiculous, there is something like 22 harps lined up on the stage,” Island U.K. co-president Ted Cockle says of the planned duet. “If we do have the fortune of voices and personalities, I would like to think that between Dizzee and Florence we have the best end of that, where there’s a voice and a bit of spirit to it rather than needing another 85 dancers.”
“It’s totally done for TV, if we’ve learnt anything as a company it’s to make sure we have stuff that works on TV,” he adds. “It’s been a busy weekend down in south London with the two of them doing their vocal prowess together round at Dizzee’s flat.”
Ged Doherty, chairman of the BRITs Committee and Sony Music U.K. chairman and CEO, has pointed out that Florence is “a crossover artist and an industry favorite.” That could translate into victory for Florence in the British female category and possibly British album, which were both voted by the BRITs Academy; the British breakthrough act is decided by listeners of national top 40 station Radio 1.
“The artists that tend to enjoy the biggest rise in sales are those that steal the show and the headlines – either by winning a handful of awards or through an amazing performance that everyone is talking about the next day,” says Rudy Osorio, head of music at U.K. entertainment retailer HMV.
“The nominations are quite well spread out this year, so it’s a fairly open contest and it’s possible that no one artist will dominate, but you have a feeling it could be Dizzee and Florence’s year domestically and Lady Gaga and Jay-Z among the big international winners. As Dizzee and Florence are performing together, this could really set them up sales-wise if they win in their respective best male and female categories.”
All the other triple nominees are U.K. acts: boy band JLS, pop newcomer Pixie Lott and Lily Allen. With 1 million albums of their self-titled Epic debut sold since November, JLS’s fanbase could well deliver a victory for them for British single (“Beat Again”) and British breakthrough.
“They are public votes so it will be very interesting to see how they do in those categories,” Doherty tells Billboard.
Osorio agrees that “JLS should also emerge as big winners – picking up one or possibly two awards for single and breakthrough.”
But the boy band will probably miss out on the British group award, which is decided by the industry and is likely to go to Columbia-signed U.K. rock act Kasabian, whose third album “West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum” is certified double platinum for 600,000 shipments in the U.K.
Doherty was full of praise for Kasabian, but he also gave an honorable mention for one of the indie nominees at the BRITs. “I like Friendly Fires myself, I’m a fan of those,” he says of the XL Recordings indie-dance act, which has two nominations and is up against Kasabian in the British group category.
The event will also mark 30 years of BRIT Awards ceremonies – it launched in 1977 but did not return until 1982 – with special awards for BRITS album and performance of the last 30 years. Other performers include Cheryl Cole, JLS, Kasabian, Lily Allen and Jay-Z dueting with Alicia Keys on “Empire State Of Mind.”
There has inevitably been speculation that U.K. pop singer Robbie Williams, who will collect the outstanding contribution award and close the show will be reunited on stage with his former band mates in Take That. But he has enjoyed a strong comeback with Virgin album “Reality Killed The Video Star,” so may prefer to bask in his own glory.
“It goes without saying that Robbie should be a big beneficiary with his award and performance for outstanding contribution, especially as there are a lot more sales to come from his album,” says Osorio.
There will also be a glimpse of a potential future BRIT winner when singer songwriter Ellie Goulding collects the Critics’ Choice honor, a separate award already decided by a judging panel. Previous winners include Florence and the Machine and Adele.
Goulding’s Polydor debut “Lights” is out March 1. “From recent years we also know that the BRITs is the perfect platform for the Critics’ Choice recipient, so this year’s winner Ellie Goulding should find it the perfect vehicle to launch her debut album,” says Osorio.
Doherty also tips Ke$ha, one of his Sony artists, as a strong contender at next year’s ceremony.
BRIT Awards 2010 Nominees:
British Male Solo Artist
British Female Solo Artist
Bat for Lashes
Florence & the Machine
British Breakthrough Act
(Winner chosen by Radio 1 listeners)
Florence & the Machine
Dizzee Rascal “Tongue n’Cheek” (Dirtee Stank)
Florence & the Machine “Lungs” (Island/Universal Music)
Kasabian “West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum” (Columbia/Sony Music)
Lily Allen “It’s Not Me, It’s You” (Regal Recordings/EMI Music)
Paolo Nutini “Sunny Side Up” (Atlantic/Warner Music)
(Winner selected by U.K. commercial radio listeners)
Alesha Dixon “Breathe Slow” (Asylum/Warner Music)
Alexandra Burke Ft Flo Rida “Bad Boys” (Syco Music/Sony Music)
Cheryl Cole “Fight For This Love” (Fascination/Universal Music)
Joe McElderry “The Climb” (Syco Music/Sony Music)
JLS “Beat Again” (Epic/Sony Music)
La Roux “In For The Kill” (Polydor/Universal Music)
Lily Allen “The Fear” (Regal Recordings/EMI Music)
Pixie Lott “Mama Do” (Mercury/Universal Music)
Taio Cruz “Break Your Heart” (4th & Broadway/Universal Music)
Tinchy Stryder Ft N-Dubz “Number 1” (4th & Broadway/Universal Music)
International Male Solo Artist
International Female Solo Artist
International Breakthrough Act
(Winner chosen by MTV viewers)
Empire of the Sun
Animal Collective “Merriweather Post Pavilion” (Domino Recordings)
Black Eyed Peas “The E.N.D.” (Interscope/Universal Music)
Empire of the Sun “Walking on a Dream” (Virgin/EMI Music)
Jay-Z “The Blueprint 3” (Roc Nation/Warner Music)
Lady Gaga “The Fame” (Interscope/Universal Music)
BRITs Album of 30 Years
(Winner chosen by Radio 2 & 6 Music listeners)
Coldplay “A Rush of Blood to the Head” (Parlophone/EMI Music)
Dido “No Angel” (Arista/Sony Music)
Dire Straits “Brothers in Arms” (Mercury/Universal Music)
Duffy “Rockferry” (A&M Polydor/Universal Music)
Keane “Hopes & Fears” (Island/Universal Music)
Oasis “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” (Big Brother)
Phil Collins “No Jacket Required” (Virgin/EMI Music)
Sade “Diamond Life” (Epic/Sony Music)
The Verve “Urban Hymns” (Parlophone/EMI Music)
Travis “The Man Who” (Independiente)