Feisty Lily set to be Brits star

The Brits, the biggest awards ceremony in Britain’s music calendar, take place tonight with Lily Allen expected to be the star of the show.

The Brits, the biggest awards ceremony in Britain’s music calendar, take place tonight with Lily Allen expected to be the star of the show.

Allen, 21, unknown to all but her Myspace friends this time last year, is nominated in three categories, including best British Female.

She is also in the running for British Breakthrough Act and British Album for Alright Still.

The feisty star is up against jazz singer Amy Winehouse and soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae in the British Female category.

The other contenders are Jamelia and the relatively unknown Nerina Pallot.

Bailey Rae is also up for British Breakthrough Act at the awards, to be broadcast live this year.

Winehouse has a British Album nomination for Back to Black, along with the Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Snow Patrol and Allen.

Best British Male is a five-way race between James Morrison, Jarvis Cocker, Lemar, Paolo Nutini and Thom Yorke.

Cocker will forever be associated with the Brits after invading the stage in 1996 in protest at a Michael Jackson performance.

Best British Group will go to either the Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Muse, Razorlight or Snow Patrol.

Take That cap their comeback with a British Single nomination for Patience.

The Brits, hosted by Russell Brand, take place tonight.

Here are some of the main nominees for tonight’s Brit Awards.

Best British Female Nominees

:: Lily Allen

Allen could be this year’s big Brits winner. The 21-year-old is nominated in three categories – Best British Female, Best British Breakthrough Act and Best British Album for Still.

She built up a huge following via her Myspace page before releasing her debut single, Smile.

It topped the chart in July last year and the 21-year-old’s outspoken views on everything from drug-taking to Madonna have made her a star.

The daughter of actor Keith Allen could now become one of the few British acts to break America – Alright Still entered this week’s Billboard chart at number 20.

:: Amy Winehouse

Winehouse, 23, has established a reputation as a hellraiser. She made a name for herself in 2003 with the release of debut album Frank.

Then her reputation for knocking back the drink and drugs threatened to overshadow her musical talent, and pictures of her looking worryingly thin last year sparked fears for her health.

But her latest album Back To Black proved a huge hit.

It has sold more than 700,000 copies and had the critics raving, while Winehouse scored a top 10 hit with Rehab.

Winehouse is nominated for Best British Female and Best Album, and will perform tonight.

:: Corinne Bailey Rae

A former cloakroom girl in her local jazz club, Bailey Rae is now an international star.

Her self-titled debut album has sold close to three million copies worldwide and had a huge hit with the single Put Your Records On.

Critics have likened her voice to Billie Holiday.

The 27-year-old from Leeds won the Mojo and Q Awards for best newcomer and two Mobos.

She was also nominated for three Grammys.

Bailey Rae has two nominations – Best British Female and Best British Breakthrough Artist.

:: Nerina Pallot

Pallot, 31, is the least known of the five contenders for Best British Female.

The part-French, part-Indian singer-songwriter grew up on the Channel Island of Jersey.

She was dropped by her record album in 2001 and considered quitting the business altogether. But her second album Fires, released independently, sold 10,000 copies via the internet and after-gig sales before it was picked up by a major label.

It spawned a top 20 hit single, Everybody’s Gone To War.

:: Jamelia

The 25-year-old returned to the music scene with third album Walk With Me after taking a break to concentrate on motherhood.

Her big year was 2004, when she scored top five hits with Superstar, Thank You and See It In A Boy's Eyes.

She went on to win three Mobos and was also signed as the face – and legs – of Pretty Polly.

The Birmingham-born star is dating Millwall player Darren Byfield.

There could be a frosty atmosphere backstage if she bumps into X Factor winner Leona Lewis.

Jamelia has dismissed her rival’s chances of a career, saying: “Leona’s great, she has an amazing voice – but it’s a bit Mariah Carey circa 1990. I don’t know how she would fit into the music industry.”

BEST BRITISH MALE

:: James Morrison

The 21-year-old singer-songwriter went to number one with his debut album Undiscovered last July.

Born in Rugby, Warwickshire, he was teased at school for playing the guitar instead of football.

He plugged away at his music and his luck changed the day after he was fired from a van cleaning job.

Gravel-voiced singer Morrison met an old friend who invited him to record a couple of songs in his studio.

Within a week, the resulting CD had found him a manager and Morrison was invited to play for major labels a week later.

In 2006, he debuted with the single You Give Me Something, which became a hit single around Europe and Japan.

Morrison is also up for Best Breakthrough Act.

:: Jarvis Cocker

Cocker, 43, made one of the most famous moments of the Brit awards when he invaded the stage in 1996 in a protest against Michael Jackson’s performance.

Jarvis founded his band at the age of 15, while still at school.

He was determined to write songs that included “the messy bits and the awkward, fumbling bits”.

After changes in line-up, he had to wait more than a decade to find success.

Pulp went on to become one of the most popular bands of the 1990s, with hits including Do You Remember the First Time? And Common People.

After several other projects his first solo album, entitled Jarvis, was released in November last year.

:: Lemar

Lemar, 28, got noticed for his stunning voice on the BBC’s Fame Academy.

He gave up an opportunity to study pharmacy at university to pursue a musical career.

He did not win the show, but Sony Music was so impressed with the Tottenham-born singer that they signed him to a five record deal worth £1 million.

He has had a string of top ten hits, including If There’s Any Justice and It’s Not That Easy, released last year.

:: Paolo Nutini

The 20-year-old from Paisley, in Scotland, spent much of his teens helping his family run their fish and chip shop.

His big break came at a David Sneddon concert when Sneddon was delayed and Nutini was given the chance to perform during the wait.

He caught the eye of a music promoter who offered to become his manager.

Nutini was signed to Atlantic Records shortly after his 18th birthday.

He released his first single These Streets as a free download in 2006, followed by Last Request.

His debut album These Streets entered the UK album charts at number three.

:: Thom Yorke

The Radiohead singer, 38, recently began recording his own solo material, with the band’s blessing.

Yorke, famed for 1997 Radiohead smash OK Computer, has said: “I don’t wanna hear that word solo. It doesn’t sound right”

His debut solo album, The Eraser, was released in July last year.

BEST BRITISH GROUP

:: Arctic Monkeys

The Sheffield band built their fanbase via the internet and burst on to the music scene with the single I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor.

Their album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not became the fastest-selling debut in chart history, shifting more than 360,000 copies in its first week, and won the Nationwide Mercury Prize.

Tonight could see a showdown between the band and Take That.

Take That were furious when Monkeys frontman Alex Turner laid into them at the Q Awards last year.

Turner said of his fellow award winners: “I’m not old enough to know a lot of them, but even I know Take That were bollocks.”

:: Snow Patrol

The band formed in 1994 but it took 10 years and two failed albums before they found success.

Their third album, Final Straw, was released in 2004 and sold two million copies.

They followed it up with Eyes Open, which shifted over 1.5 million copies to become the biggest-seller of 2006 and spawned the anthem Chasing Cars.

Snow Patrol are regarded as both a Northern Irish and a Scottish band - frontman Gary Lightbody and drummer Jonny Quinn hail from Belfast, but the five-piece group met at Dundee University and two of the members are Scottish.

US success has now come their way after Chasing Cars was featured in the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

:: Kasabian

Kasabian have been hailed as one of the best British rock bands of recent years.

The Leicester four-piece supported their heroes Oasis on tour and Noel Gallagher is a big fan.

Their second album, Empire, was released last year.

Guitarist Serge Pizzorno is the wildman of the group.

He claims supermodel Kate Moss propositioned him at Glastonbury in 2005 – but he turned her down, and says of Pete Doherty: “All I can say is good luck to him. He can have her.”

:: Muse

The Devon trio formed in 1999 and soon carved out a name for themselves.

The rock band is led by Matthew Bellamy on vocals.

Their 2001 album Origin of Symmetry was placed 74th in a poll of the 100 greatest ever albums.

:: Razorlight

The band is fronted by singer Johnny Borrell, 26, who was born in an upmarket area of north London.

Their recent single America gave Razorlight that elusive number one.

The group’s first album, Up All Night, was released in 2004.

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