Dido and The Darkness lead the charge for Brits 2004

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The Independent Culture

Dido's reputation as one of the most bankable female pop singers was enhanced last night as she was nominated for three Brit awards.

The singer is shortlisted for her multi-platinum-selling album Life for Rent and the single "White Flag", as well as picking up a further nomination in the British Female Solo Artist category. The recognition of Dido's achievements last year comes after she picked up the awards for best British Album and best British Female Solo Artist at the Brits two years ago.

The Brits' organisers yesterday described the singer as "a global Brit megastar''. Life for Rent has sold eight million copies and is top the British album charts. Publicity surrounding the Brit nominations is bound to further boost sales.

Dido will be performing at the Brits 2004 ceremony next month at Earls Court in London, though Lowestoft-based rock group The Darkness could walk away with more awards, after the band received four nominations last night.

They were shortlisted for their number-one album Permission to Land, as well as in the Best British Group, Best British Rock Act and Best British Breakthrough Artist categories. The Brits organisers said the group had "single-handedly revived the spirit of British rock 'n' roll glamour''.

The Darkness were widely expected to pick up the rival Mercury Music Prize last year, but were pipped by the pirate radio prodigy Dizzee Rascal, who last night also picked up three Brit nominations.

Dizzee, an MC whose vocal style falls between UK garage and hip hop, was shortlisted in the Best British Solo Male Artist, Best British Breakthrough Artist and Best British Urban Act categories.

The other British act to pick up three nominations was Busted. The trio also performed live at last night's event in the art deco ballroom at the Park Lane Hotel in Piccadilly, central London. They were introduced as having sold more units last year than any other British band except Coldplay. Busted were nominated in the Best Pop Act, Best British Breakthrough Artist and Best British Group categories. Coldplay, like Eminem, were conspicuous by their absence from the shortlist, although both acts have had quiet years.

Most successful among the international artists was Christina Aguilera, who picked up more nominations (three) than rivals Beyonce (two) and Kylie Minogue (one).

Ms Aguilera was shortlisted for Best International Female Solo Artist and Best Pop Act, as well as getting a nomination in the International Album category for Stripped.

Another performer at the nomination ceremony was Amy Winehouse, the London-based singer whose talents were recognised with a place on the shortlist for Best British Female Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Artist.

Wirral-based band The Coral were nominated in the British Album category for their second LP, Magic and Medicine, as well as being placed in the best British Group shortlist.

But the artists from television talent shows like Pop Idol and Fame Academy had only a limited impact on the event. Will Young was short listed in the British Male Solo Artist category and his Pop Idol rival Gareth Gates was nominated for his single "Spirit in the Sky". Lemar, who controversially failed to win the BBC's Fame Academy, continued his successful recording career with nominations as Best British Breakthrough Artist and Best British Urban act.

A strong contender in the British Rock category is the Devon-based band Muse, who were singled out by the organisers for special praise following the success of their album Absolution. "You can be sure that the 2004 Brits will bring them further into the limelight and establish them as one of the best British bands of the decade,'' they said.

Also confirmed was an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music for Duran Duran, in recognition of a career spanning over 25 years and leading to sales of 70 million records.

The nominations are...

Best British Male Solo Artist: Badly Drawn Boy, Daniel Bedingfield, David Bowie, Dizzee Rascal, Will Young

Best British Female Solo Artist: Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Dido, Jamelia, Annie Lennox, Amy Winehouse

MasterCard British Album: Daniel Bedingfield, Gotta Get Thru This; Blur, Think Tank; The Coral, Magic and Medicine; The Darkness, Permission to Land; Dido, Life for Rent

Best British Group: Busted, The Coral, The Darkness, Radiohead, Sugababes

Best British Single: Dido, "White Flag"; Gareth Gates feat. the Kumars, "Spirit in the Sky"; Jamelia, "Superstar"; Mis-Teeq, "Scandalous"; Rachel Stevens, "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex"

Best British Rock Act: Darkness, Feeder, Muse, Primal Scream, Stereophonics

Best British Urban Act: Lemar, Big Brovaz, Mis-Teeq, Dizzee Rascal, Amy Winehouse

Best British Dance Act: Basement Jaxx, Goldfrapp, Groove Armada, Kosheen, Lemon Jelly

Best British Breakthrough Artist: Busted, Jamie Cullum, The Darkness, Lemar, Dizzee Rascal

Best Pop Act: Christina Aguilera, Daniel Bedingfield, Black Eyed Peas, Busted, Justin Timberlake

Best International Male Solo Artist: Beck, 50 Cent, Sean Paul, Damien Rice, Justin Timberlake

Best International Female Solo Artist: Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys, Kylie Minogue

Best International Album: Christina Aguilera, Stripped; Beyonce, Dangerously In Love; Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below; Justin Timberlake, Justified; The White Stripes, Elephant

Best International Group: Black Eyed Peas, Kings of Leon, Outkast, The Strokes, The White Stripes

Best International Breakthrough Artist: 50 Cent, Evanescence, Kings of Leon, Sean Paul, The Thrills

Outstanding Contribution: Duran Duran