Brit awards: Tinie Tempah shines with four nominations

The xx up for best album as awards overhauled to add 'jeopardy' and give votes to last year's contenders

Until a year ago Tinie Tempah was just one of a gaggle of urban artists hoping to emulate the commercial success of the likes of Dizzee Rascal, but he has now demonstrated that while his stature may be diminutive, his ambition is anything but.

The rapper continued an astonishingly successful run tonight, when he was nominated for four Brit awards including best single and the most coveted prize of all: British album of the year. And nominations both for best breakthrough act and best male solo artist reveal just how dizzyingly fast his ascent has been.

This year's overhaul of the Brits, which the new chairman, David Joseph, has said he wants to make more about music and less about showbiz, seems to have had some effect.

Indie minimalists The xx are nominated for three awards – best British breakthrough act, best British group and the best British album award – arguably a result of the decision to allow artists to vote for the first time.

The voting academy, previously a group of 1,000 industry experts including critics, executives and publishers, this year brings in last year's winners and nominees. "There are certain artists' artists, people they respect. It will have a more left-of-centre influence," Joseph said in a recent interview with the Guardian.

With their understated style, eerie dreamscape songs and undeniably indie sound, The xx are an unlikely fit with the awards' pure pop mould. They would become the first band to win both the Mercury award, which prides itself on its leftfield, cutting-edge choices, and then best album at the Brits.

They will have to see off competition from Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More, Plan B's The Defamation of Strickland Banks, Take That's Progress and Tempah's Disc-Overy.

Organisers have scrapped the lifetime achievement award, traditionally the last award of the evening, to introduce more "jeopardy" into proceedings, said Joseph, and focus attention on the album of the year.

The prize of best international album will be fought out between Canuck indie rockers Arcade Fire, American singer and rapper Cee Lo Green, Eminem, US rock giants Kings of Leon and California girl Katy Perry.

Mumford & Sons, who broke on to the pop scene last year thanks to Sigh No More, have also put in a strong showing with three nominations: best breakthrough act, best British band and album of the year.

Another of the biggest acts to break into the charts last year was hip hop artist turned soulster Plan B, whose The Defamation of Strickland Banks was one of the biggest albums of 2010.

Plan B, real name Ben Drew, is nominated for three awards: best British male solo artist, best British album and best British single.

It may be his first, and last chance, to win a clutch of awards using the character of Strickland Banks and a soul sound, after the 27-year-old has said he wants to move into other genres such as punk rock, hip hop or dubstep for his next album.

The shortlist was revealed at London's O2 Arena, the new home of the Brit awards, which will be hosted there next month. The winners will be announced on 15 February at Docklands music venue, with performances by Tempah, and US hiphop star Rihanna, who is also in the running for best international female solo artist.

The hotly tipped newcomer for 2011 Jessie J was voted critics' choice, beating James Blake and The Vaccines to become the only sure-fire Brit winner thus far. She performed at the nomination event last night alongside Tempah, Ellie Goulding and The Wanted.

The nominations

British male solo artist Mark Ronson; Paul Weller; Plan B; Robert Plant; Tinie Tempah

British female solo artist Cheryl Cole; Ellie Goulding; Laura Marling; Paloma Faith; Rumer

British breakthrough act Ellie Goulding; Rumer; Mumford & Sons; Tinie Tempah; The xx

British group Biffy Clyro; Gorillaz; Mumford & Sons; Take That; The xx

British single Alexandra Burke ft Pitbull All Night Long; Cheryl Cole Parachute; Florence & The Machine You've Got The Love; Matt Cardle When We Collide; Olly Murs Please Don't Let Me Go; Plan B She Said; Scouting For Girls This Ain't A Love Song; Taio Cruz Dynamite; Tinie Tempah Pass Out ; The Wanted All Time Low

Mastercard British album of the year Mumford & Sons Sigh No More; Plan B The Defamation of Strickland Banks; Take That Progress; Tinie Tempah Disc-Overy; The xx xx


Alexandra Topping

The GuardianTramp

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