Ed Sheeran battles female stars for top billing at the Brits

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He is the acoustic troubadour who began his career strumming in the empty back rooms of pubs then bedding down on friends' sofas.

Click here to view our gallery of some of this year's nominees

Now Ed Sheeran is expected to be the big winner at next month's Brit Awards after receiving more nominations than even Adele.

The Suffolk songwriter, whose song "The A Team" received 20 million YouTube views, earned four nominations, one more than Adele and Jessie J. But Sheeran has been called the leader of "the New Boring", a cultural movement which supposedly includes Adele and Coldplay.

The nominations reflect a year in which singer/songwriters have dominated the charts, at the expense of traditional guitar-based rock.

The British Female category is now the most competitive in the list. Last year's winner, Laura Marling, defends her crown against Florence and the Machine, Jessie J, Adele and Kate Bush.

Best of British: The nominees

Jessie J Brit School graduate's top-selling debut album Who You Are gained three nominations. She battles the chart-conquering Adele for the Best Female award.

Anna Calvi The classically trained purveyor of dark-hearted guitar songs is a surprise contender for the Breakthrough award. She has won praise for her intense live performances.

Lana Del Rey The New York singer with a 30s Hollywood vamp look was the web buzz of 2011. Her "Video Games" single secured an International Breakthrough nomination.

Laura Marling Last year's Best Female winner nominated again after her album A Creature I Don't Know, which broadened her contemporary folk style with jazz inflections.