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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  • Comment number 69.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Apparently there are alot of music execs on here or are they the artists themselves. why do you care for such awards? Is it to boost your vein narcasistic ego in which you only acheive self satisfaction upon being the recipient of such an award. It's great how the modern world has squewd the vision of many people into having an unjustified view of self importance. Get off your high horse

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    Comment number 67.

    Most of the acts on this alternative list are no better than those on the Brits shortlist. The main ambition for most of the acts on both lists seems to be to be as bland as possible.

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    Comment number 66.

    Bobby womack a legendary songwriter and performer, if you haven`t heard any of his stuff check out the Poet 2 album, I still listen to that nearly 30 since its release and it still moves me, the last track on it is truly heartbreaking. He, in my opinion, is up there with all the soul greats, Otis redding,Stevie Wonder,Marvin gaye and any recognition that comes his way is massively overdue.

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    Comment number 65.

    A shame that all the international selections come from across the Atlantic. There are plenty of great artists from Europe who should figure on a list like this. How about Loreen, the Swedish winner of this year's Eurovision, who charted at no3 in the UK and no1 across Europe. Jan Smit from the Netherlands, Conchita Wurst from Austria and Shirley Clamp from Sweden would be my other suggestions.

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    Comment number 64.

    Shouldn't you, BBC, put the tacks of all those mentioned so that we can hear them. You are supposed to be unbiased and not advertise.

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    Comment number 63.

    Over the years I have found that the best bands and solo artists out there on the scene tend to be those who don't get very much if any time on TV/radio or in the media...

    If anyone reading this are interested in hearing some good quality sounds, have a look out for Canterbury based SYD ARTHUR. They are one of the best bands I've heard in recent years and certainly well worth a blast or two!!!

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    Comment number 62.

    The Brits are terrible, it's guaranteed that a X-Factor artist will win something, if not them, someone from the Brit School or then it'd be based on the UK charts, which are terrible again. It's not based on how good the music is, it's how popular the artist is.

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    Comment number 61.

    What, no Welsh, Irish or Scottish talent. Lazy journalism.

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    Comment number 60.

    It's great to see Beth Jean Houghton highlighted: a truly unique artist who was strangely overlooked in the 2012 lists. The Brits are more a reward for popularity than excellence so I guess we encourage Radio1 and similar stations to move away from their playlists and celebrate music in all it's forms, rather than just playing tat by artists they think teenagers like and who are under 40...

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    Comment number 59.

    This article should be re-named:

    "Unknown bands ageing hipsters go and see, as they're cheap, easy to get tickets for, and make them feel culturally relevant when they're really not"

    I saw Two Gallants years ago - they're boring with no talent. It's why nobody buys their lousy records

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    @29 This is a list of artists who "did not make the top 40 but could, and perhaps should, have found a wider audience in 2012" split into categories. Natalie Duncan is listed first under Best British female. You would have to ask the list complier whether this means she has "won" or is simply included in the list. It's a great album either way.

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    Comment number 57.

    First heard Dawn Richards last year, and she is truly excellent, in my opinion anyway...hope big success comes her way, but obviously not in a Whitney Houston stylee where she ends up dead in a bath. Just sayin'

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    Comment number 56.

    The Brits are a mockery of good quality music. Popularity most of the time means rubbish. As if there is a clause in order to be considered. That just shows they don’t care about quality but quantity. Mercury awards all the way.

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    Comment number 55.

    A good alternative list of credible artists, as opposed to the plethora of 'faces' that will dominate the Brits. It's all about sales & showbiz fawning these days so I expect Messrs Cowell (I'll give you 2 years) & Walsh (I like boy bands but won't tell you why) will be there patting themselves on the back.

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    Comment number 54.

    There is loads of great music out there but you're unlikely to find it at the Brits. Remember that the Brits is there to recognise commercial achievement which sadly seems to mean an endless succession of Pop Idol units.

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    Comment number 53.

    Grimes is the standout for me.. her work is truly stunning. Imaginative and well produced. I'm addicted.

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    Comment number 52.


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    Comment number 51.

    Great to see you've rated The Crookes, saw them at the Leadmill in Sheffield last year and they were superb.

    A very accomplished band with some excellent tunes - and from Sheffield, what could be better?

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    What, no Katzenjammer?
    A useful list all the same; artists to investigate...


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