Pop tops list at Brit nominations

Take That, Mika and Leona Lewis lead the field at this year's Brit Awards in a nominations list that puts the emphasis on pop.

All have four nominations apiece and will go head-to-head in the Best British Album and Best British Single categories.

Arctic Monkeys, Mark Ronson, Kaiser Chiefs and Kate Nash each have three.

Take That's career comeback continues to go from strength to strength. Their nominations include Best British Group and Best Live Act - pitting them against Arctic Monkeys.

Last year they won Best British Single with Patience and are bidding to do it again with Shine.

X Factor winner Leona will do battle for the Best British Female crown with Kate Nash, KT Tunstall, PJ Harvey and Bat For Lashes. She is also in competition with Mika for Best British Breakthrough.

Her four nominations come after a remarkable year which saw her score the fastest-selling British debut album of all time with Spirit, which shifted 375,000 copies in its first week.

Lebanese singer Mika is a contender for Best British male alongside Jamie T, Mark Ronson, Newton Faulkner and Richard Hawley.

Faulkner is the dark horse of the category - the dreadlocked singer-songwriter became a word-of-mouth success last year and his debut album, Hand Built By Robots, has just notched up 500,000 sales.

Arctic Monkeys are hoping to win Best British Group and Best British Single for the second year running.

Amy Winehouse has one nomination - her cover of the Zutons' Valerie with producer Mark Ronson is in the running for Best British Single.

Although Back To Black was the biggest-selling album of 2007, it does not qualify for Brits voting because it was released in 2006.

Kylie Minogue is hoping to win in the Best International Female and Best International Album categories.

The Australian star, who recently returned to the limelight after recovering from breast cancer, will sing at the ceremony on February 20.

Sir Paul McCartney, recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award, will also perform, as will Kaiser Chiefs, Mark Ronson, Mika and Rihanna.

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne will host the event from London's Earls Court.

While the shortlist features a number of new acts - including Kate Nash, Bat For Lashes and Klaxons - there is also room for a few golden oldies.

The Eagles are nominated for Best International Group and Best International Album with Long Road Out Of Eden, their first studio album since 1979.

Bruce Springsteen will face the likes of Kanye West and Timbaland for Best International Male.

Industry watchers said this year's Brits race is wide open.

"Usually you have just one or two artists dominating the nominations, so it's unprecedented to see at least four major acts all in with a chance of bagging a handful of awards. It says a lot about the strength and vibrancy of British music right now," said HMV's Gennaro Castaldo.

"It's great that so many new artists are being recognised, including in the main categories, although Take That winning the Brit for best group or album would certainly be the story of the night and a wonderful way for them to cap the most remarkable comeback ever made by any UK band or solo artist."

This year's Best British Female category is particularly strong, Castaldo added.

"The nominations testify to the depth of British female talent right now.

"Gone are the days when the Best Female award would simply alternate between the likes of Annie Lennox and Kate Bush.

"Now there are at least a dozen female artists that could prevail in this category. If anything, female solo artists are comfortably outperforming their male counterparts in terms of sales and chart success.

"The one irony is that Amy Winehouse's current domination is not even recognised because Back To Black came out in 2006 and so does not qualify."

The nominations were announced last night by Kelly Osbourne at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London.

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