Lowdown on the 2012 Brit nominees

From household names to newcomers, we take an affectionate (and sometimes irreverent) look at all 46 artists nominated for the 2012 Brit Awards.

Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Brief bio: Prolific poster boy of alternative country, who once described his music as "a Hallmark card if it was written in disappointment".

Nominated for: International male

What they say: "The caricature painted of him over the years of a difficult, moody rock star with a ferocious appetite for drugs and booze is light years away from the polite, friendly, open man sipping a cup of tea in the sunshine." [The Quietus]

What we say: We're still waiting for Ryan to form a supergroup with Bryan and Oleta. They could call it The Adams Family.

Adele

Adele

Brief bio: One-woman saviour of the British record industry, whose voice literally exploded halfway through 2011.

Nominated for: Best British female, Best British single (Someone Like You), Best British album (21)

What they say: "She can seethe, sob, rasp, swoop, lilt and belt, in ways that draw more attention to the song than to the singer." [New York Times]

What we say: She hates to turn up out of the blue, uninvited... but the Brits is certain to welcome Adele back with open arms. And a few trophies.

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys

Brief bio: Sheffield musical prodigies, led by kitchen sink wordsmith Alex Turner. Their first album was the UK's fastest-selling debut in history until it was overtaken by Susan Boyle.

Nominated for: Best group

They say: "Being up there in the limelight is something that didn't come naturally to me at all. But now I'm doing stupid crowd participation things. I have started to enjoy that side of things." [Alex Turner, speaking to 6 Music]

What we say: Turner says he's stopped writing about "chip shops" and "taxi ranks" but his dry wit hasn't dried up. See, for example, the title track to their latest album Suck It And See: "That's not a skirt, girl, that's a sawn-off shotgun... and I can only hope you've got it aimed at me."

Beyonce

Beyonce

Brief bio: Booty-shaking, record-breaking, man-baiting, Grammy-taking, hit-creating mother-of-one. Quite popular.

Nominated for: International female

What they say: "Such was her long-stemmed beauty, as she prowled and strutted in search of her missing skirt, that among the audience of 170,000 people there were young men who passed out standing up, their eyes wide open." [Telegraph]

What we say: According to the lyrics of 1+1, Beyonce "don't know much about algebra", but she's definitely got talent where it counts.

Bjork

Bjork

Brief bio: Innovative Icelandic musician, multimedia artist and noise provocateur. Her latest album, Biophilia, is available as a series of interactive iPad apps.

Nominated for: International female

She says: "How I hear music is more related to nature. It's not related to some Christian German guys, Bach and Beethoven. I don't mean that in a bad way. I totally respect Christians and Germans, it's just that I think there should be versatility." [National Geographic]

What we say: If Bjork wins for her latest album Biophilia it will, by implication, mean the first ever Brit award for featured vocalist Sir David Attenborough.

Aloe Blacc

Aloe Blacc

Brief bio: Consultant-turned-rapper-turned-crooner, whose austerity anthem I Need A Dollar tapped into the mood of a nation.

Nominated for: International male, International breakthrough

What they say: "He is an informed conversationalist, speaking calmly on all manner of topics, from breakdancing to Noam Chomsky." [Telegraph]

What we say: It's a good thing Aloe adopted a stage name - Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III would be hard to engrave on a statue.

James Blake

James Blake

Brief bio: The Harold Pinter of dubstep, known for minimalist soundscapes punctuated by long... pauses. Not to be confused with the US tennis player.

Nominated for: Best British male

What they say: "On one hand, I don't understand this at all. On the other, it's just incredible music". [Comment on Blake's YouTube page]

What we say: Like Sudoku or a bank heist, James Blake's album is difficult but rewarding.

Blur

Blur

Brief bio: Revitalised Britpop survivors, fronted by musical polymath Damon Albarn.

Recipients of: Outstanding contribution to music

They say: "I've been to the Brits only two or three times [and] I felt slightly guilty about winning. I was worried that people would think we were spoilt brats. This time, sod it, I'm just going to lap it up I think." [Guitarist Graham Coxon, talking to The Daily Record]

What we say: Blur's outstanding contribution prize comes five years after arch-rivals Oasis took home the trophy. So that's that argument settled.

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Brief bio: AKA Justin Vernon, whose moody debut For Emma, Forever Ago was famously recorded alone, in a snowbound log cabin. The self-titled follow-up won Vernon a Grammy for best new artist.

Nominated for: Best international male, international breakthrough

What they say: "Amorphous and triumphant - a haze of acoustic guitars, airy synthesizers and tumbling drums floating beneath Vernon's hallucinogenic yowl, like two stratus clouds overlapping in a dream" [Washington Post]

What we say: Bon Iver's success has led to the creation of tribute band Bon Joviver, who cover soft rock classics with Vernon's distinctively spectral harmonies.

Kate Bush

Kate Bush

Brief bio: Enigmatic singer-songwriter whose latest record is a concept album about snow. Her debut single, Wuthering Heights, was the first British number one to be both written and sung by a woman.

Nominated for: Best British female

She says: "I'm really looking forward to taking a break." [Huffington Post]

What we say: Glaciers move faster than Kate Bush's release schedule, so the appearance of two albums in 2011 made her Brits nomination almost a certainty.

Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi

Brief bio: Bird-like Twickenham singer with a voice like a hurricane. Her self-titled debut album was nominated for a Mercury in 2011.

Nominated for: British breakthrough act

What they say: "It almost feels like going into a trance when I sing." [Interview Magazine]

What we say: Anna Calvi wrote the bulk of her album in her parents attic - she must have had lofty ambitions [you're fired - ed].

Chase And Status

Chase and Status

Brief bio: South London dance duo Saul Milton (Chase) and Will Kennard (Status). Their mixture of rave, rock and ribcage-rattling bass won them a headline slot on Glastonbury's West Holts stage, where Saul celebrated his 30th birthday.

Nominated for: Best group

What they say: "Cherry-picks the chunkiest, most accessible, lowest-common-denominator features of half a dozen genres and splices them together into a Frankenstein's monster of an album, in which the modern Prometheus is lurching forward to catch the kitchen sink he's just been thrown." [Guardian]

What we say: One of only two British dance acts with a nomination, despite a resurgence for the genre in 2011. Unlikely to win, nonetheless.

Coldplay

Chris Martin from Coldplay

Brief bio: Chart-toppling giants of soft rock, whose latest album hit number one in more than 30 countries. Frontman Chris Martin has two main lyrical themes: "Everything is going to be OK" and "I'm very sorry".

Nominated for: Best British album (Mylo Xyloto)

What they say: "Coldplay's semi-experimental approach to arena anthems has made them one of the most commercially successful rock band of the 2000s." [Billboard]

What we say: Chris Martin says he "made up" the words Mylo Xyloto and that we, the listeners, should determine the meaning. Bet he's a nightmare at Scrabble.

Elbow

Gut Garvey from Elbow

Brief bio: Big-hearted poets of English suburbia. Their fifth album, Build A Rocket, Boys! was an understated, tender reaction to the success of their Mercury-winning breakthrough The Seldom Seen Kid.

Nominated for: Best group

They say: "You can't completely ignore the fact that when you've had a bit of success, people - especially financiers - are expecting more of the same, but we didn't let it change the way we wrote." [Frontman Guy Garvey, Paste Magazine]

What we say: Garvey got in trouble with his band when he drunkenly announced the title of his album on radio. Imagine what secrets he might give away after a night of free record company booze at the Brits.

Example

Example

Brief bio: Garrulous dance guru, whose stage name derives from the fact his initials are E.G. (Elliot Gleave). His third album, Playing In The Shadows, debuted at number one.

Nominated for: Best British single (Changed The Way You Kissed Me)

He says: "This album was aimed at getting me into arenas. And it has." [This Is London]

What we say: Hit single Stay Awake features the world's worst product endorsement deal, as Example promises to "stick around like Elastoplast".

Feist

Feist

Brief bio: Leslie Feist from Nova Scotia, purveyor of quirky, textured folk-pop. Her career received a boost when Apple chose the lighthearted single 1-2-3-4 for an iPod commercial.

Nominated for: Best international female

What they say: "Her voice shines in a downcast way, drawing just the right amount of emotion from the lyrics, never overwrought or melodramatic but potent nonetheless." [New Zealand Herald]

What we say: When Shia LeBeouf insisted on playing Feist's album on the set of Transformers 3, director Michael Bay stormed off the set. Is there any way we could book Feist's next tour around the production schedule for Transformers 4?

Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes

Brief bio: Seattle five-piece, whose rustic harmonies and flashes of psychedelia recall Fairport Convention and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Nominated for: Best international group

What they say: "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and beards" [Spin]

What we say: Hirsuites you, sir.

Florence and the Machine

Florence Welch

Brief bio: Pale-faced musical foghorn Florence Welch and her ragtag band of minstrels. Fond of percussion. Mad as a hatstand.

Nominated for: Best British female, Best British album (Ceremonials)

She says: "I wanted to call this whole record just Violence. A violent emotion. You can feel things violently. It's a beautiful word." [USA Today]

What we say: This is the sort of music you hear just before they sacrifice you to the volcano gods.

Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters

Brief bio: Rock survivors, who rose from the ashes of Nirvana and fought their way through the ranks. One of their 2011 shows triggered volcanic tremors in New Zealand.

Nominated for: Best international group

Dave Grohl says: "It's weird when there's a kid on the bill who comes up and says, 'Your band was my first concert'. You just think, 'Oh no. I'm that guy, now? What am I, Gandalf?'" [Entertainment Weekly]

What we say: Rock and Roll isn't dead, it's just hibernating in Dave Grohl's beard.

Foster The People

Foster The People

Brief bio: LA indie pop quartet. Their background as jingle writers shines through in their supremely catchy pop hooks.

Nominated for: International breakthrough

What they say: "Foster The People make infectiously good music, don't stick to a formula and make you yearn to lie on your back in the middle of a field, feeling the hot sun streaming down on your face." [Music OMH]

What we say: The band's breakthrough hit Pumped Up Kicks is the best pop song about a high school massacre since I Don't Like Mondays.

Noel Gallagher

Noel Gallagher

Brief bio: Former Oasis guitarist and his furious eyebrows, now striking out with solo project Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

Nominated for: Best British male

He says: "It is a new sound… but only from taking things away. The excesses of Oasis, like the extra guitars, I just took 'em away. I didn't add anything." [Music Radar]

What we say: The most famous roadie the Inspiral Carpets ever had.

David Guetta

David Guetta

Brief bio: French DJ-turned-producer, whose thumping dance tracks are fronted by R&B royalty from Usher to Rihanna.

Nominated for: Best international male

What he says: "I think America was always scared of dance music. We came with a new sound, creating that bridge between the electro culture that comes from Europe and the urban culture that is more American - it's such magic." [Idolator]

What we say: Would you recognise David Guetta if he fell out of a hammock labelled "This is David Guetta's Hammock"?

PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey wins the Mercury Prize

Brief bio: The only person to have won the Mercury Prize twice, Polly Jean Harvey's latest album narrates the grim effects of war on generations of English soldiers.

Nominated for: Best British album (Let England Shake)

She says: "It took four years of writing before I ended up with the songs on this record, and I had to discard a huge amount of material." [BBC]

What we say: In the 1990s, Radio 1 presenter Emma Freud introduced her as "PJ and Harvey". Sadly, Polly's version of Let's Get Ready To Rhumble wasn't a patch on the original.

Jay-Z and Kanye West

Jay-Z and Kanye West

Brief bio: Two titans of hip-hop, joining forces for a gold-plated album of rap duets. The gold-plating was literal for anyone who invested in the deluxe CD.

Nominated for: Best international group

What they say: "Just two guys sitting on a stoop, telling stories, lamenting the mistakes they've made, expressing hope that the next generation might learn something from them." [New York Times]

What we say: The rappers also go by the names Hova and Yeezy which, coincidentally, are the noises we made last time we had an asthma attack.

Jessie J

Jessie J

Brief bio: Fright-wigged pop banshee, who released the best-selling debut album of 2011.

Nominated for: Best British female, British breakthrough act, Best British single (Price Tag)

She says: "I see my music as Emotional Therapeutic Pop music that bleeds into loads of different genres." [Seventeen]

What we say: "It ain't about the cha-ching, cha-ching; Ain't about the ba-bling, ba-bling" is now the official slogan of the Eurozone.

JLS

JLS

Brief bio: Perennially popular male vocal harmony group, already hard at work on their fourth album.

Nominated for: Best British single (She Makes Me Wanna)

What they say: "They may be more popular than Simon Cowell could possibly have imagined - he turned them down twice, you know - but JLS are no musical innovators." [BBC Music]

What we say: Marvin! Oritse! Aston! JB! They tend to sing about "da club" a lot, as this is where the Honeys regularly spend the evening.

Ethan Johns

Ethan Johns and Laura Marling Johns (l) was recognised for his work with Laura Marling (r), who won a Brit last year

Brief bio: Respected producer, who gives life to the music of Laura Marling, Kings Of Leon, Ryan Adams and Emmylou Harris, amongst others.

Recipient of: Best British producer (awarded last week)

What they say: "He's very, very patient, and he's got a very good ear. He's the first person I go to with my songs." [Laura Marling]

What we say: A hugely talented producer, Johns learnt the trade from his father, Glyn Johns, who sat behind the mixing desk for The Eagles, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

Kasabian

Kasabian

Brief bio: Grandiloquent rockers, based in Leicester. Claimed their fourth album Velociraptor! would change people's lives.

Nominated for: Best group

They say: "Velociraptors used to hunt in packs of four. They were the rock'n'roll band of the dinosaurs." [Guitarist Serge Pizzorno in the NME]

What we say: Oh come on, everyone knows the most rock'n'roll dinosaur is the Brachylophosaurus.

Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum

Brief bio: Country trio formed in Nashville (where else?) six years ago. A big crossover act in the US, they recently won the Grammy for best country album.

Nominated for: Best international group

The band says: "We won't just throw a fiddle on the song if it doesn't really call for it." [The Banter]

What we say: Lady A's perfect smiles are no accident - guitarist David Haywood's dad invented teeth bleaching in the 1980s.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Brief bio: Shy, subtle, retiring performer of popular song. Once attended an awards ceremony in a dress made of meat.

Nominated for: Best international female

What they say: "Excess is Gaga's riskiest musical gamble, but it's also her greatest weapon... While most 21st-Century pop stars pulverize their imperfections into an Auto-Tuned slurry, she boldly wears her audacity like a meat dress." [Spin]

What we say: Why don't people make more fuss about the meat dress?

Pixie Lott

Pixie Lott

Brief bio: Long-legged pop waif, born Victoria Louise Lott in 1991. Skipped school to get a recording contract at the age of 15 and earned her first platinum disc three years later.

Nominated for: Best British single (All About Tonight)

What they say: "Even with a newfound smokiness to her vocals, she delivers all the passion of a student singing in school assembly." [Independent]

What we say: For her new album Pixie wrote a tribute to Stevie Wonder called Stevie On The Radio, then persuaded Stevie Wonder to play harmonica on it. How postmodern.

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Brief bio: Wan, shy folk singer from Hampshire. The surprise winner of last year's best British female award, she released her haunting third album A Creature I Don't Know in September.

Nominated for: Best British female

What they say: "While she may not be a particularly revealing performer, she's an extremely commanding one." [Pitchfork]

What we say: Last year, Laura gave her Brits trophy to her mum. Another one would really tie the room together.

Maroon 5

Adam Levine of Maroon 5

Brief bio: Briefly popular chart rock band, whose career was revitalised by radio-friendly disco stomper Moves Like Jagger.

Nominated for: Best international group

They say: "Only Jagger has the moves like Jagger. But it's attainable... I don't think anyone could claim to have the moves like James Brown, or the moves like Michael Jackson, or the moves like Prince." [singer Adam Levine on NPR]

What we say: No doubt inspired by Mick Jagger's anti-establishment politics, Maroon 5 recently created their own flavour of iced tea.

Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars (centre) and his band

Brief bio: Hawaiian-born soul star whose backing band are tighter than Lycra. Co-wrote Cee-Lo's Forget You and scored a trio of number ones with solo singles Just The Way You Are, Grenade and The Lazy Song.

Nominated for: Best international male

What they say: "His skill is an ease with both old‑fashioned songcraft and hip‑hop swagger." [Guardian]

What we say: Fans of genetic improbability will be pleased to know that Bruno recently tweeted "I'm pretty sure I'm pregnant".

Military Wives

Miltary Wives

Brief bio: A choir of (you guessed it) Military Wives, put together for a TV show. Their love song, Wherever You Are, sold 631,000 copies and was the 2011 Christmas Number One.

Nominated for: Best British single (Wherever You Are)

They say: "I can't believe that I can actually sit here on Christmas Day and say I've got a single out that is number one... it feels unreal." [Choir member Emma Williams]

What we say: The best chart act the armed forces have produced since Robson and Jerome.

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj

Brief bio: Outlandish, Trinidadian-born musician who rose to fame by upstaging the likes of Lil Wayne and Mariah Carey with guests verses on their singles.

Nominated for: International breakthrough

What they say: "One of Minaj's most endearing qualities is, despite the funny faces, the fact that she's an MC with her heart on her sleeve and a sad story to tell." [No Ripcord]

What we say: Nicki has recorded a concept album about her alter-ego Roman Zolanski. We are not making this stuff up.

James Morrison

James Morrison

Brief bio: Armed with a guitar and tender vocals, Morrison tackled the death of his father on third album The Awakening, which quietly charted at number one last autumn.

Nominated for: Best British male

He says: "I'd love to do a side-project where I'm not James Morrison, I just put a vocal on a fat beat or something." [Female First]

What we say: A deserving nominee, given his cross-generational appeal, but Morrison remains as popular and edgy as a facecloth.

Olly Murs

Olly Murs

Brief bio: Perma-grinning X Factor nice guy who scored two number one singles in 2011. Your mum likes him.

Nominated for: Best British single (Heart Skips A Beat)

He says: "That's probably the best thing about being famous... you are able to help and support other people and make a difference." [The Banter]

What we say: Cliff Richard for the 21st Century.

One Direction

One Direction

Brief bio: X-Factor endorsed boy band. Average age 18-and-a-half.

Nominated for: Best British single (What Makes You Beautiful)

What they say: "Aimed solidly at teenage girls (and boys) who are waiting for somebody to be secretly in love with them, What Makes You Beautiful is so unthreatening it might have to think twice about holding hands." [NME]

What we say: One Direction have fans who call themselves The Directionettes. They throw carrots at the band when they play live. Carrots.

Professor Green

Professor Green

Brief bio: Kermit-voiced rapper, born in Hackney. Formerly known as Stephen Manderson, he has transcended his past as an "angry youth" to become one of the UK's most successful hip-hop artists.

Nominated for: Best British male

What they say: "It's easy to understand the appeal of Professor Green, the gobby class clown who's always disrupting lessons with a crude comment. Problem is, he could really do with some fresher jokes." [NME]

What we say: In his number one single Read All About It, Professor Green confesses: "I write songs I can't listen to." Don't be so hard on yourself, son, they're not that bad.

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey

Brief bio: Cartoonishly pretty, enigmatic femme fatale with a line in alluring noir pop. Despite the success of her debut single Video Games, she is plagued by accusations of inauthenticity by critics incensed that she (gasp) changed her name.

Nominated for: International breakthrough

She says: "I love to sing and I really love to write, but in terms of being onstage, I'm not that comfortable." [GQ]

What we say: Basically a musical incarnation of The Great Gatsby's Daisy Buchanan.

Rihanna

Rihanna

Brief bio: Bajan pop princess with an astonishing work rate. Rihanna has released six albums in seven years, and played 10 dates at the O2 arena in 2011.

Nominated for: Best international female

What they say: "I wish no ill will against Rihanna and her friends. Perhaps they could acquaint themselves with a greater God." [Northern Irish farmer and local councillor Alan Graham, who put an end to the singer's raunchy video shoot on his land last October]

What we say: Needs no introduction. A mainstay of the Brits and a phenomenally successful artist. She won this prize last year, and could easily do it again in 2012.

Emeli Sande

Emeli

Brief bio: Former medical student with a knack for writing catchy, classy R&B hooks. A stellar 2011 saw her reach number one with Professor Green before launching her solo career with top 10 hit Heaven.

Nominated for: British breakthrough act

Recipient of: Critics' Choice award

She says: "If the sun is out, the songs I write are usually rubbish. The best songs come around 2am for me." [Orange Music]

What we say: Aberdeen's other best-known exports are Annie Lennox and granite. Sande models her career on one and her hair on the other.

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran

Brief bio: A little bit jazz, a little bit hip-hop, Ed Sheeran is a songwriting prodigy who built his fan base organically through extensive touring. Result: 791,000 albums sold in 2011.

Nominated for: Best British male, British breakthrough act, best British single (A Team), best British album (+)

What they say: "The incessant melodrama can grate, but Sheeran's voice, alternating between soulful huskiness and stuttering sing-speak, is a treat." [Telegraph]

What we say: Ed's fans are like putty in his hands. Hormonal teenage putty.

The Vaccines

The Vaccines

Brief bio: Wily rock quartet and saviours-du-jour of British guitar music, who mix blistering garage rock with brooding odes to Post Break-Up Sex.

Nominated for: British breakthrough act

What they say: "Guitarist Freddie Cowan is so toffee-nosed he's 14th in line to the throne and gets carried to gigs on a sedan chair." [NME]

What we say: The Vaccines played more than 50 festival dates in 2011 and are slowly turning into falafel.

The Wanted

The Wanted

Brief bio: Five boys next door with a chart-friendly line in ravepop. Vaguely more "rough" than JLS or One Direction, The Wanted have scored two Top 10 albums in as many years.

Nominated for: Best British single (Glad You Came)

They say: "We have to remember that as well as the horny mums who like us, we're writing to girls too, so we don't want to go too overboard." [Jay McGuiness, speaking to Digital Spy]

What we say: They may be heart-throbs but "I decided you look well on me" is the most clunky, unromantic lyric of the year.

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