The Brit Awards nomination list is doomed to disappoint – too safe for tastemakers, too many wrinkly rockers for teenage pop fans.
But it’s hard to argue with a 2013 roll call that gives pride of place to the indie folk-tronica of Alt-J and recognises the “new Dylan” Jake Bugg, whilst also accommodating the relentless dance-pop of Rita Ora and the ubiquitous face of 2012, Emeli Sandé.
The organisers have found a way to recognise the commercial appeal of Olly Murs – one X Factor graduate who appears to have staying power – as well as the hushed, small-hours throb of The xx.
This year’s Brits reflects a widening UK divide between single track downloads which sell in huge numbers – generally producer-led, formulaic dance-pop, dominated by the likes of Calvin Harris and albums by critically-acclaimed artists, often wielding guitars, which sell very little.
With barely 100,000 sales, Mercury Prize winners Alt-J would be the lowest-selling Mastercard British Album of the Year.
Neither Richard Hawley (Best Male) or The xx (Best Group) will be receiving platinum discs for their releases during a year in which digital downloads failed to make up for the continued decline in album purchases, and only Sandé broke one million UK album sales.
Increasing the representation of artists on the 2,000-strong Brits voting panel, which includes DJ, broadcasters and journalists, has ensured that more “credible” figures get nominated. But this has been at the expense of pure pop artists and, it appears, urban music.
The list is sorely lacking a Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascal, Wretch 32 or any other artist representing a thriving UK urban scene bar Plan B, who receives two nominations for his politically-charged, Ill Manors soundtrack.
The Brits is also about winning big ratings for ITV on the night. Will the producers risk a low-key performance from Alt-J amid One Direction and the other gaudy delights – perhaps the two Best Group nominees will be asked to collaborate? Will The Rolling Stones deliver another performance at the O2 Arena after picking up the Best Live Act award, their first nomination since 1977.
And despite popping up at every television show, Olympic Torch relay and envelope opening last year, there is not a single nomination for will.i.am. So for that alone, even Brits-haters should be grateful.
Adam Sherwin is a member of Brit Awards voting panel