Brit Award nominations 2015: Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith head-to-head in Brits dominated by homegrown talent

It really is the Brit Awards this year as homegrown stars lead the field

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The Independent Culture

Their soulful ballads might send Noel Gallagher into a fury but Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran have sold millions of albums and topped the global charts.

Now the pair will go head-to-head at a Brit awards dominated by homegrown solo stars.

Smith, the 22 year-old London R&B singer, who specialises in tales of early hours heartbreak, heads the list with five nominations ahead of next month’s awards.

 

Last year’s Brits Critics’ Choice winner, Smith became the only artist to sell a million albums in the UK and US with his debut, In The Lonely Hour. Embraced by a US audience, Smith, 22 is also nominated for 6 Grammy awards.

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Sheeran, 23, receives four Brit nods, including best album and solo artist, following the success of his second album X, which included collaborations with Pharrell Williams and is poised to pass the 2m sales mark in the UK.

The strummer will play three solo-out nights at Wembley Stadium this Summer, an achievement which appalled Noel Gallagher who this week condemned Sheeran’s “polished pop”.

Hot on Sheeran and Smith’s heels is George Ezra, 21, the Hertford singer-songwriter who cites Woody Guthrie as an influence and who has amassed a large following of young fans after extensive touring. Ezra also enjoys four nominations debut album, Wanted on Voyage, sung in a warm bass-baritone, topped the charts and has sold more than 800,000 copies.

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Paulo Nutini also brings his soulful rasp to the Solo Brit category, alongside Damon Albarn who released his debut solo album last year.

Guitar rock makes a comeback with Royal Blood, the Brighton duo formed by bassist/singer Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher, gatecrashing three categories, including best British album. Their chart-topping self-titled debut, powered by crashing drums and pounding basslines, became the fastest-seller by a new rock artist since 2011.

The British artists, defined by a good-natured politeness which often stretches into the music, may be overshadowed on the night by US nominees, such as St Vincent and Lana Del Rey, artists who add a layer of mystery by constructing a persona around their music. Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Jack White also feature in the international categories.

However FKA Twigs, aka British singer Tahliah Barnett, wins two nominations, after releasing a debut album of unsettling, boundary-pushing R&B.

David Cameron will take a personal interest in the awards, broadcast live by ITV from the O2 Arena next month, after his new favourite band, Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit, received a best international group nomination.

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Formed by sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, the Prime Minister admitted he sneaked into a recent London concert by the group, along with wife Samantha, who introduced him to their music.

First Aid Kit won their nomination at the expense of U2, whose grand return was scuppered by a serious injury to Bono and the backlash prompted by the band’s iTunes album giveaway.

Cult US indie band The War on Drugs, whose album Lost In The Dream topped an aggregate of “best-of 2014” critics’ polls, win their first Brits nomination.

The solo artist dominance is set to continue with Hozier, the Irish singer who’s Take Me To Church has become a huge hit, competing for International Solo Male and James Bay, another guitar-touting singer-songwriter, taking the Brits Critics’ Choice award for 2015.

Sheeran and Smith will also compete for the Global Success award, given to the British artist which has achieved the greatest international sales over 2014.

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