Alternative Brit Award nominations 2013


This year's Brit Award nominations will be announced on Thursday evening. The Brits honour the year's biggest and best stars, and all nominees must have had a top 40 single or album.

But there are always a few gems that slip through the net. So here is an alternative list of artists who did not make the top 40 but could, and perhaps should, have found a wider audience in 2012.

This list is entirely subjective, frivolous and unscientific, and does not confer any accolade upon these artists on behalf of the BBC.

Watch these artists in a YouTube playlist.

Best British male

Keaton Henson
  • Keaton Henson (above)

Acoustic singer-songwriter Keaton Henson is so shy that he has only done a handful of gigs and interviews and, according to the press release, rarely leaves his bedroom. But home-recorded debut album Dear..., which received a full release in April, is a modest masterpiece. The fragile tales of love and loss (mainly loss) will quietly break your heart.

  • Eugene McGuinness

He may look like a rockabilly throwback, complete with quiff and leather jacket, but Eugene McGuinness trades in punchy art-pop that recalls late 1970s post-punk chroniclers like Squeeze and Elvis Costello. His fourth album The Invitation to the Voyage has seen him mature into a superb songwriter.

  • Kindness

Seductive slow funk and woozy disco make World You Need A Change Of Mind by Kindness (real name Adam Bainbridge) a bewitching debut. The sample-laden tunes feel familiar yet otherworldly - The Independent described them as "like an '80s mixtape played through an underwater radio".

Best British female

Natalie Duncan
  • Natalie Duncan (above)

She first gained exposure on Goldie's 2011 reality TV show By Royal Appointment. Now Natalie Duncan has made a debut album with soul. On Devil In Me, her expressive voice swings from soothing to stormy as the accompanying piano adds rich drama. The Sunday Times called it "one of the greatest debut albums of the year".

  • Josephine

Josephine Oniyama released a low-key debut album in 2002, then was signed - and dropped - by a major label, before finally releasing the follow-up Portrait last year. Championed by Elbow's Guy Garvey, Josephine has a sparkling soul voice and songs that bring in a blend of acoustic pop, jazz and world music.

  • Beth Jeans Houghton

From Kate Bush to Florence Welch, England has a tradition of nurturing free spirits who write great songs but are, basically, bonkers. Beth Jeans Houghton ticks all those boxes, providing theatrical, tumultuous tunes, unbridled ideas, a glam-art style sense and eye-catching record sleeves.

Best British group

The Crookes
  • The Crookes (above)

Sheffield four-piece The Crookes proved that reports of the death of indie had been greatly exaggerated. The band came of age on second album Hold Fast, which combines the panache of early rock 'n' roll with sophisticated guitar pop. Richard Hawley has invited them to support him on his next tour.

  • Moulettes

Moulettes are a five-piece folk group, but they are really just an exhilarating, three-dimensional pop band with a folk twist. Former Moulette Ted Dwane, who left to join Mumford And Sons in 2007, returned to play double bass on the Moulettes' second album, The Bear's Revenge.

  • Quakers

Their album sounds like a lost American rap classic, but Quakers are actually Portishead's Geoff Barrow, Portishead studio engineer Stuart Matthews, Australian producer Katalyst and 35 guest MCs. This could be seen as Barrow's answer to Damon Albarn's Gorillaz - although, with 41 tracks, the album would be twice as good if it was half as long.

Best international male

Bobby Womack
  • Bobby Womack (above)

Bobby Womack's first new album for 18 years, The Bravest Man In The Universe, was co-produced by Damon Albarn. It won best album at the Q Magazine awards and was named the best album of 2012 by Clash magazine, who said it was "music that affects the depths of your soul, that makes you want to dance, that makes you want to cry".

  • Jimmy Cliff

After an absence of eight years, Jamaican veteran Jimmy Cliff returned with Rebirth, including tracks that rank alongside his best. He revisits old school reggae and ska, with lyrics that combine burning social commentary and autobiography. "I got one more story to tell, true story, my glory," he belts on the standout track One More.

  • Cody Chesnutt

US neo-soul soldier Cody Chesnutt has been compared to Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. Ten years after his debut, he recorded the lush, invigorating, fan-funded follow-up Landing On A Hundred with analogue equipment once used by Al Green and Ike Turner. The ambitious, blistering polemic Under the Spell of the Handout sets the pace.

Best international female

Anais Mitchell
  • Anais Mitchell (above)

On her fifth album Young Man in America, Vermont singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell confirmed herself to be a spellbinding storyteller whose evocative tales, sweet, sharp voice and intimate folk-rock arrangements draw you close and keep you hooked.

  • Grimes

Grimes, the alter-ego of Montreal's Claire Boucher, had buckets of critical love in 2012, with both NME and The Guardian putting her LP Visions at number two on their end-of-year lists. Her genre-splitting sound is ethereal, industrial, futuristic, tuneful, innovative and strangely emotional, topped by vocals that give her the air of a techno Kate Bush.

  • Dawn Richard

A former member of girl group Danity Kane and rap collective Diddy Dirty Money (with rapper P Diddy), Dawn Richard has been hailed as one of the artists taking R&B into new territory. The Guardian wrote of her 10-track Armor On EP that "few artists have integrated R&B and dance as dazzlingly as Richard and producer Druski do".

Best international group

Two Gallants
  • Two Gallants (above)

Judging by their fourth album The Bloom and the Blight, San Francisco blues-rock duo Two Gallants could be ranked alongside fellow double acts The White Stripes and The Black Keys. These childhood friends balance raw power with poignancy and an anthemic streak runs right through the record.

  • Family of the Year

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler has, apparently, described Los Angeles four piece Family of the Year as "the Mamas and the Papas on acid". Hearty harmonies, passionate strumming and contagious melodies mark out their album Loma Vista. It can feel saccharine at times but the tunes win through.

  • Cloud Nothings

Attack On Memory, the third album by Ohio rock band Cloud Nothings, is visceral, vitriolic and gripping. Dylan Baldi conjures comparisons with Kurt Cobain, speaking (well snarling) for a disaffected generation with grated grunge vocals and bleak lyrics, underpinned by strong melodic instincts.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    The guy with the beard, whose name I've already forgotten, sounds like a man who really should be moving out of his bedroom. There are a number of bands out there who will never get the recognition they deserve, who's ever heard the sublime works of Tulamben for example?. The up side of fragmented digital distribution is that the Brits will become less relevant to anyone under 30.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Who the hell cares about the Brits? It's time they scrapped this overblown, pompous and biased waste of time and money. It has become a joke. The Brits were good for a while, way back in the days when music actually mattered and meant something to people. That ended in the early 90s.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    @2: Bad analogy. McDonald's sells because of the price, whereas quality food is more expensive. With the rise of iTunes and the like, a single record of any era can be purchased for the same price.
    I've never understood the bashing of 'popular' artists. They must be doing something right, else they wouldn't sell. The music listed above is more niche, thus not to everyone's (the majority's) taste.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I've always hated the brits, especially after scissor sisters won best group. The band being american (and terrible to boot) i was perplexed at the time, but apparently being signed to a british label changes the bands nationality. What a load of self indulgent tripe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Apart from Bobby Womack and Jimmy Cliff, I haven't heard of any of these artists, and was not aware of new material from the 2 I had heard of. If their music is so good, why do the BBC mainstream channels not play more from them and less from the X Factory?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I'd add The Boxer Rebellion to that list. They've been around for about 7 years and are working on their 4th album, which will be released through their own label. Excellent guitar-based rock with soaring vocals courtesy of Nathan Nicholson, their music is just a joy to listen to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    As these awards are nothing other than a popularity contest to give record companies a bit if post Christmas publicity, there's no chance of any of the above being shortlisted.

    The most ridiculous award is the best single award that is limited to the best selling singles. It's a bit like giving McDonalds a Michelin start because lots of people buy food there!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Great to see Anais Mitchell get some much deserved recognition here. Young Man in America really is spellbinding and is criminally under appreciated over here. He previous album, the folk-opera Hadestown, is an incredible achievement and I cannot recommend that highly enough.

    A real talent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    What a complete farce, the brits like all awards are just vanity projects for pathetic attention seekers. the class acts are the ones who don't turn up or don't get nominated


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