Adele, Ed Sheeran, Little Simz and Dave have topped the largest-ever field of nominations at the Brit awards, as the ceremony moves beyond gendered categories.
Each artist earned four nominations, including in the new “artist of the year” category that has replaced “British male” and “British female”, and for album of the year. New awards have been added this year to highlight excellence in genres: alternative/rock, hip-hop/grime/rap, dance, and pop/R&B.
The change to the gendered awards 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. They said: “I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in.”
Brit organisers replied that they were “committed to evolving the show”, and announced a consultation, eventually unveiling the changes last month. Tom March, co-president of Polydor Records, who is this year’s Brit chair, said: “It is important that the Brits continue to evolve and aim to be as inclusive as possible.”
There was a risk that the abolition of gendered awards, would see the new mixed categories skewed towards men, who have dominated some recent ceremonies – but more solo female artists and all-female groups have been nominated this year than at any time in the past decade.
There are some familiar successful artists among the nominees – Dua Lipa appears in the pop/R&B and song of the year categories despite releasing very little new music – but there are also a number of first-timers. South Yorkshire pop singer Self Esteem, who was awarded album and song of the year by Guardian critics, is nominated for best new artist, alongside Central Cee, Griff, Joy Crookes and – six years after her debut album – Little Simz. Self Esteem, AKA Rebecca Taylor, said on Instagram: “Props to Brits for having 35 year old woman representation. We don’t just become obsolete!”
Central Cee picks up three nominations overall in his first Brits appearance, capping a breakthrough year for the 23-year-old drill rapper that saw him dominate the Mobo and Rated awards for Black British music, and score two top 10 hits. Veteran dance producer David Guetta is also nominated three times, for his contributions to three joint-effort dancefloor tracks: Bed, Heartbreak Anthem and Remember. Geordie singer-songwriter Sam Fender also earned a trio of nominations, including in the prestigious artist of the year and album of the year categories – he said he was “completely overwhelmed and honoured” to be recognised.
There is a diverse span of artists in the running for group of the year, with four-time winners Coldplay extending their record number of nominations in the category to nine, plus rap duo D-Block Europe, indie rockers Wolf Alice, dream-poppers London Grammar and Little Mix, who in 2021 became the first female group to win the award.
Up for the international artist award, which again replaces two gendered awards, is an all-American lineup of Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and Doja Cat.
The international group category is more globe-trotting, with Abba – who were nominated for this award at the first-ever Brit ceremony in 1977 – appearing alongside Italian Eurovision winners Måneskin, K-pop megastars BTS, US AOR band the War on Drugs, and Silk Sonic, the nostalgic funk supergroup formed by Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak.
One Brit award has already been handed out: the rising star award for newly tipped talent, won by pop singer Holly Humberstone. Fender won this award in 2019; last year’s winner, Griff, receives two nominations elsewhere this year, as does previous rising star nominee Crookes, whose debut album Skin reached the UK top five.
Awards for producer and songwriter of the year will be announced in January, before the ceremony on 8 February at the O2 Arena, which is presented for the first time by comedian Mo Gilligan, with support from Maya Jama and Clara Amfo. Overall, there are 15 awards up for grabs, the most in Brits history.
The awards are voted for by the Brits Academy, comprising musicians alongside music industry and media figures, though the genre categories will be voted for by the public via TikTok. Nominees in the two song of the year categories are determined by UK chart performance, but the winner is picked by the Academy.
Adele will likely become a quick favourite in her four categories, after she re-established herself alongside Ed Sheeran and Lipa as the UK’s biggest contemporary pop star. Her fourth album, 30, was released six fractious years after her previous one, 25, during which time she divorced her husband, Simon Konecki, the father of her son, Angelo. The album charts the relationship strife and its fallout in typically candid and emotive terms, and has been phenomenally successful since its release last month, becoming the biggest selling album of the year in the US in just three days. If she wins all four of her categories, she will have the joint-highest number of Brit awards ever alongside Robbie Williams, with 13.
Sheeran will be keen to add to his six previous wins in the year he released his fifth album, =, and Dave could potentially win album of the year for the second time in three years, after his debut Psychodrama took the prize in 2020.
In joining them at the top table of British pop, Little Simz marks her passage from cult artist to mainstream star. The critically adored rapper, celebrated for how she deploys a high level of technical skill into self-searching lyricism, had barely touched the UK charts with her first three albums, but reached the UK top five with her fourth, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert.
There are no glaring snubs, though major stars Justin Bieber, Drake and the Weeknd all might have hoped to get a nomination for international artist.
2022 Brit award nominations
Artist of the year
Group of the year
D Block Europe
Album of the year
Adele – 30
Dave – We’re All Alone in This Together
Ed Sheeran – =
Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under
Song of the year
A1 & J1 – Latest Trends
Adele – Easy On Me
Anne Marie, KSI & Digital Farm Animals – Don’t Play
Becky Hill & David Guetta – Remember
Central Cee – Obsessed With You
Dave & Stormzy – Clash
Ed Sheeran – Bad Habits
Elton John & Dua Lipa – Cold Heart (Pnau remix)
Glass Animals – Heat Waves
Joel Corry, Raye & David Guetta – Bed
KSI – Holiday
Nathan Evans – Wellerman (220 Kid & Billen Ted remix)
Riton & Nightcrawlers – Friday (feat Mufasa & Hypeman)
Tion Wayne & Russ Millions – Body
Tom Grennan — Little Bit of Love
Best new artist
Lil Nas X
The War on Drugs
International song of the year
ATB, Topic & A7S – Your Love (9pm)
Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
Ckay – Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah)
Doja Cat & SZA – Kiss Me More
Drake & Lil Baby – Girls Want Girls
Galantis, Little Mix & David Guetta – Heartbreak Anthem
Jonasu – Black Magic
The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber – Stay
Lil Nas X – Montero (Call Me By Your Name)
Lil Tjay & 6lack – Calling My Phone
Måneskin – I Wanna Be Your Slave
Olivia Rodrigo – Good 4 U
Polo G - Rapstar
Tiësto – The Business
The Weeknd – Save Your Tears