British album

Jorja Smith – Lost & Found
The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
Florence + the Machine – High as Hope
Anne-Marie – Speak Your Mind
George Ezra – Staying at Tamara’s

In an era where the album more often resembles a cobbled-together Spotify playlist, this category feels surprisingly old-school, filled with proper full-lengths. Florence’s was her best yet, and would be a worthy winner. Smith shouldn’t win for her debut – she’ll make better records – so it should go to the 1975 for their delightfully erratic third album with its heroin love songs, internet lullabies and last year’s best single, Love It if We Made It. But it’s ultimately a toss-up between George Ezra and Anne-Marie for this category – the Brits loves to reward itself for a homegrown success story – and of the two, Ezra’s album is better: despite sounding like music to soundtrack a Sainsbury’s barbecue advert, there’s something extremely appealing about his baritone bonhomie. LS

Will win: George Ezra – Staying at Tamara’s
Should win: The 1975 – A Brief History of Online Relationships

British single

Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa – One Kiss
George Ezra – Shotgun
Rudimental – These Days (feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen)
Dua Lipa – IDGAF
Annie-Marie – 2002
Clean Bandit – Solo (feat. Demi Lovato)
Sigala & Paloma Faith – Lullaby
Ramz – Barking
Jess Glynne – I’ll Be There
Tom Walker – Leave a Light On

Nominations from this category are quantified rather than voted – it’s merely the 10 biggest tracks of 2018, based on streams and sales – but the final winner is selected by the Academy. George Ezra’s Shotgun is as buoyant, optimistic and universally popular as England’s World Cup campaign that ruled the summer alongside it: a track that is sure to unite voters. On earworming songwriting merit, Sigala and Paloma Faith’s Lullaby would be a worthy winner, as would Ramz’s Barking, and Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa’s One Kiss, which could cause a rightful upset. It conjured the true feeling of a heatwave in its confident summer-dress sexiness, and having won everything last year, Lipa is clearly beloved by the Academy. BBT

Will win: George Ezra – Shotgun
Should win: Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa – One Kiss

Baritone bonhomie ... George Ezra.
Baritone bonhomie ... George Ezra. Photograph: Frank Leavesley

British male

Sam Smith
Craig David
Aphex Twin
George Ezra

This is more solidly wrapped up than a particularly satisfying episode of Midsomer Murders. With the second-biggest selling album of the year after The Greatest Showman soundtrack (whose Hugh Jackman opens the Brits show tonight), human distillation of niceness George Ezra is a dead cert to win. Sam Smith’s album feels like it came out three years ago, Craig David is more a vibes conduit than rounded artist, and Aphex Twin is not making startling enough music to cause an upset. But Giggs has used his extraordinarily resonant tones to become the biggest and best all-round rapper in the UK – capable of both delicate jabs and southpaw sledgehammers – and deserves this prize. BBT

Will win: George Ezra
Should win: Giggs

British female

Florence + the Machine
Jorja Smith
Lily Allen
Jess Glynne

Anne-Marie will win this because she was one of Britain’s only success stories of last year, and the Brits are all about the industry slapping itself on the back. Although success is relative: Speak Your Mind was the biggest UK debut of 2018, but it was only the UK’s 26th biggest album last year (Queen and Abba’s respective greatest-hits collections did better), and while she’s engaging enough, Anne-Marie lacks a popstarry je ne sais quoi. Lily Allen should win: No Shame was a great album that didn’t get the props – or exposure – it deserved, and just imagine her brilliantly bridge-burning acceptance speech. LS

Will win: Anne-Marie
Should win: Lily Allen

Their breakthrough year? Idles. Photograph: Tom Ham

British breakthrough

Ella Mai
Tom Walker
Jorja Smith

A pretty even category here, apart from Tom Walker, who has a very strong voice but you get the feeling even his close mates struggle to recall his face. It’s good to see Idles nominated: their euphoric, positivist punk has proven an emotional release valve for people – ok, men – frustrated by austerity and anxiety, though the Bristol band are perhaps too noisy for Brits voters. Mabel’s star continues its charismatic, circuitous path to the heavens but isn’t quite there yet; Ella Mai’s emphatic US success hasn’t yet translated beyond R&B fans in the UK. So that leaves Jorja Smith, whose emotionally rich album Lost & Found takes Amy Winehouse’s bruised temperament into the present day: she should triumph here even if she doesn’t win the bigger prizes. BBT

Will win: Jorja Smith
Should win: Idles

British group

Arctic Monkeys
The 1975
Little Mix
Years & Years

Arctic Monkeys probably made the most significant album, but the Brits aren’t going to run the risk of another broken microphone with Brexit stockpiling on the horizon. Gorillaz won last year, and shouldn’t have done. Which leaves three pretty decent contenders: Years & Years are ambitious pop heroes, but Palo Santo sadly sank without leaving much of an impact. The 1975 have won before, and would be worthy double winners – they feel like a true group in the sense that hundreds of thousands of kids plot their identities by them. But Little Mix are yet to win, and they’ve led a much longer and more thrilling existence than you’d expect from a talent-show group; given the dismally dull state of some of the other “pop” “stars” up for gongs tonight, they’ll bring some much-needed uproar. LS

Will win: Little Mix
Should win: Little Mix

Little Mix, nominated twice this year.
Little Mix, nominated twice this year. Photograph: Publicity image

British video

Anne-Marie – 2002
Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa – One Kiss
Clean Bandit – Solo (feat. Demi Lovato)
Dua Lipa – IDGAF
Jax Jones – Breathe (feat. Ina Wroldsen)
Jonas Blue – Rise (feat. Jack & Jack)
Liam Payne & Rita Ora – For You (Fifty Shades Freed)
Little Mix – Woman Like Me (feat. Nicki Minaj)
Rita Ora – Let You Love Me
Rudimental – These Days (feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen)

Voted for by you at home, the British video category is a fight between fan armies. Little Mix probably has the strongest fanbase, and Woman Like Me is a great video: the four-piece play sexy (obvs) delinquents shipped off to a surreal finishing school. They’re putting in greater effort than most of their rivals: the One Kiss video resembles the “psychedelic” projections from some parochial club; Jonas Blue and Rudimental appear to be in on some post-Brexit initiative to celebrate London’s tourism potential; and Rita Ora and Liam Payne’s 50 Shades track is a vision of Taylor Swift’s pleasingly menacing Blank Space video reinvented for Valentine’s Day by a witless Hallmark employee. Similarly derivative are Anne-Marie’s 2002, in which she re-enacts the videos of the songs she mentions in the lyrics; Dua Lipa’s IDGAF is a shameless rip-off of Christine and the Queens’ Tilted video; and Ora’s neon-hued Let You Love Me is very Beyoncé circa 2013. The deserved winner is Clean Bandit’s surrealist clip, in which the boys do something hydroponic with bunny rabbits, while Grace is towed on a skateboard by a neon dog and pretends to masturbate, apparently in the throes of some Harry Potter-related fantasy if the Dementor-style special effects are anything to go by. LS

Will win: Little Mix – Woman Like Me (feat. Nicki Minaj)
Should win: Clean Bandit – Solo (feat. Demi Lovato)

International group

The Carters
First Aid Kit
Chic & Nile Rodgers
Twenty-One Pilots

Do the Brits really think that Beyoncé and Jay-Z pairing up constitutes a group? It seems fairly insulting to the, you know, many excellent and well-established groups from around the world that a one-off husband-and-wife collaboration would beat them to this category, but never mind: they shouldn’t win anyway, as let’s be honest, nobody’s still listening to Everything Is Love. The whole category seems devoid of inspiration: First Aid Kit? In this economy? Twenty-One Pilots and Nile Rodgers will turn up, which stands them in good stead to win. (Did Rodgers ever meet a press opportunity he didn’t like?) But for sheer ingenuity and actually meaning something to young people’s lives, the progressive and emotionally astute Texas rap collective Brockhampton should win. LS

Will win: Chic & Nile Rodgers
Should win: Brockhampton

Ariana Grande – the favourite for the international female category?
Ariana Grande – the favourite for the international female category? Photograph: PR/PR Company Handout

International female

Cardi B
Camila Cabello
Christine and the Queens
Ariana Grande
Janelle Monáe

There is barely any daylight between these five phenomenally talented women, who make this category easily the most high quality of the lot. But if push comes to shove, Monáe remains a cult artist whose brilliant iconography ultimately does the heavy lifting for her songwriting, and perhaps Cabello isn’t quite in the same super-league as Cardi B or Ariana Grande, either of whom would be worthy winners. Grande is ultimately a much bigger artist in the UK, though, and earned giant goodwill for her charity concert in the wake of the Manchester arena attack – not to mention for songs of the calibre of Thank U, Next. Christine and the Queens’ album was the critics’ hit of 2018, though, so could sneak up the inside. BBT

Will win: Ariana Grande
Should win: Cardi B

International male

Kamasi Washington
Shawn Mendes
Travis Scott

Unfortunately for Shawn Mendes, there aren’t any tween girls in the voting bloc so he’s going to struggle here, and Kamasi Washington, whose contribution to jazz’s cultural resurgence really cannot be underestimated, still ultimately plays jazz. Travis Scott made 2018’s best rap album in Astroworld, and finally made an impact on the UK charts, but he too will suffer from older generations of voters peering over their reading glasses wondering who on Earth he is. Eminem, still a stadium-filling prospect, pulled himself out of a stupor with surprise album Kamikaze and stands a chance – but who can really touch Drake, who scored three UK No 1s last year, all of them witty and playfully anthemic. BBT

Will win: Drake
Should win: Drake.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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