Harry Styles and Wet Leg lead the nominations for this year’s Brit Awards, with four each, including nods for the coveted best album award.
Stormzy, Cat Burns, The 1975 and dance producer Fred Again are close behind with three apiece.
Beyoncé and Taylor Swift will fight it out in the international categories, while Sam Ryder is in the running for best new artist.
He is the first Eurovision act ever to be recognised in the category.
“Well, I never knew that,” Ryder told BBC News. “So the shock and awe on my stupid face is completely legitimate. That’s amazing.”
The star added that he had had a “funny relationship” with the Brits in his formative years as a musician.
“Sometimes you’d watch the Brits and realise how far you still were [from success]. It would be hard to keep the faith, keep your spirit. So I just feel completely overwhelmed to be in a position where I’m included amongst my peers.”
Last year the Brits discarded gendered categories, merging best female and best male into an overall best artist category.
Accepting the prize in 2022, Adele announced: “I understand why the name of this award has changed but I really love being a woman and being a female artist!”
This year, however, women are excluded from the category – despite high-profile releases from the likes of Charli XCX and Florence + The Machine.
It’s a result that has undoubtedly caused concern at the BPI, which organises the ceremony.
As the nominations were announced, it noted that 42% of this year’s nominations went to female artists or female-fronted bands, comparable to last year’s figure of 46%.
The decision to go gender-neutral came after criticism of the 2021 ceremony by non-binary singer Sam Smith, whose gender identity meant they couldn’t be nominated in the male or female artist awards.
At the time, Smith said: “I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in.”
This year, the star is nominated for best single alongside transgender singer Kim Petras for their chart-topping pop duet, Unholy.
Nominations in the three biggest categories are:
Artist of the year
- Central Cee
- Fred Again
- George Ezra
- Harry Styles
Group of the year
- The 1975
- Arctic Monkeys
- Bad Boy Chiller Crew
- Nova Twins
- Wet Leg
Album of the Year
- The 1975 – Being Funny In A Foreign Language
- Fred Again – Actual Life 3
- Harry Styles – Harry’s House
- Stormzy – This Is What I Mean
- Wet Leg – Wet Leg
Styles is almost guaranteed to win artist of the year, after a career-cementing 12 months in which he scored both the UK’s best selling-single, As It Was, and album, with his third release, Harry’s House.
The singer is currently on tour in the US with fellow nominees Wet Leg, an indie duo from the Isle of Wight whose self-titled debut album is peppered with acerbic lyrics and pulse-quickening guitar riffs. It will go up against Harry’s House for the best album prize.
‘More than we bargained for’
They are the presumed front-runners for best new act and best alternative band, and could challenge three-time winners Arctic Monkeys for best group.
Singer Rhian Teasdale said their four nominations were “so unexpected”.
“When we started the band, we literally thought we were going to get to go to a few festivals, so to be going to the Brits and to be nominated is a bit more than we bargained for,” she told BBC News.
Elsewhere Blackpink have become the first Korean-pop girl band to be recognised by the Brits, with a nomination for best international group; and We Don’t Talk About Bruno, from the animated film Encanto, is the first-ever Disney song to be shortlisted for a prize, appearing in the best international song category.
Up-and-coming producer Fred Again is a surprise nominee for best album, edging out higher-profile contenders like Florence + The Machine and Arctic Monkeys.
The musician, who recently came second in the BBC Sound Of 2023, is cited for his dance project Actual Life 3, which weaves conversations and clips he recorded on his iPhone into dreamy club soundscapes.
Girl band Flo were previously announced as winners of the rising star award, just nine months after releasing their debut single, Cardboard Box. The prizes for producer and songwriter of the year will be announced at a later date.
This year’s ceremony will take place on 11 February, hosted for the second year running by comedian Mo Gilligan.
Winners will receive a trophy designed by Oluola Slawn, the Nigerian-born, London-based artist known for his spray painted, pop art canvases and murals.