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Dua Lipa has five nominations, Ed Sheeran has four, Justin Timberlake’s performing and so is Stormzy. The BRITs are almost upon us…

The awards take place on Wednesday 21 February, live from the O2 Arena – and BBC Music will be there, bringing you all the gossip from the red carpet and backstage. You can follow the action on Music News LIVE from 17:00.

In the meantime, here are some of the big themes and talking points to get you prepared...

1. All hail our ginger overlord

Let's face it, it's Ed Sheeran's party and we're all invited.

The star was so successful last year that they had to rewrite the chart rules to give everyone else a chance. And, after being bizarrely snubbed by the Grammys last month, the BRITs are certain to recognise Britain's biggest musical export.

2. Can Grime go big?

Two years ago, the BRITs overhauled its voting academy in response to the #BritsSoWhite campaign, resulting in nominations for Stormzy, Kano, Skepta and Wiley. Even so, Grime artists left the ceremony empty-handed.

For the awards to stay relevant, they need to address that omission this year. J Hus, who's up for three awards, including best British breakthrough, thinks it's possible.

"100% we can turn it around this year,” he told BBC News.

“But even if I don't take anything away, I'm happy to be amongst so many big artists. It's just crazy."

3. Don’t expect to see Liam Gallagher

Ten years after he complained that Oasis had stopped receiving BRIT nominations, Liam Gallagher found himself on the shortlist for Best British Male. But he’s still not happy…

“The Brits awards have ballooned it again,” he ranted on Twitter earlier this month.

“All I wanted to do was play LIVE but there [sic] too scared.

“Asked me if I wanted to host it are they having a laugh?”

4. Sam Smith faces down his haters

Sam Smith could easily have thrown a massive strop when his number one album, The Thrill Of It All, failed to receive a single nomination at this year’s ceremony.

Instead, he’s turning up to perform – in a room filled with the very people who cast their votes for someone else.

5. Watch out for white roses

After stars wore black to the Baftas and Golden Globes in support of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, the BRITs will be following suit.

The awards’ organising body, the British Phonographic Industry, has invited artists and guests attending the 2018 ceremony to wear a white rose pin “as a symbol of solidarity” with people who have experienced sexual abuse.

The symbol was first adopted at the Grammys, where stars including Camila Cabello, P!nk, Lana Del Rey, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Cardi B and Miley Cyrus all added the rose to their outfits.

But not everyone supports the measure.

“I personally will not be wearing a flower,” said Vick Bain, chief executive of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

“Not because I don’t have sympathy with the cause – I myself have experienced sexual harassment – but I feel however well-intentioned this action is, we should all be focused on creating meaningful change,” she told the Guardian.

6. Will Dua do it?

She got five nominations - more than any female artist in the history of the BRITs, so will Dua dominate, or is she this year's Craig David?

Going into the ceremony, she looks unbeatable in the Best British Female category; and she's outsold all her competitors in the Best British Breakthrough, which bodes well.

Incredibly, though, her breakthrough hit New Rules has been eliminated from the fan-voted best video category ahead of the ceremony. The video, which has been watched more than 1 billion times on YouTube, was on a longlist of 10 nominees – but got ousted by One Direction fans, who propelled Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik into the final five.

Can someone get Kanye West on standby for the prizegiving?

7. What's going on with the statue?

Artist Anish Kapoor has designed this year's BRITs trophy, which is encased in a sort of red plastic resin.

We've heard that if you drill into it, you can extract Elton John's DNA and get him cloned.

8. Which performance is going to give us goosebumps?

The BRITs has a secret extra category: "best emoting". This year, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran are odds-on favourites to break out the ballads but, thankfully, other performers are preparing to kick up a storm.

Stormzy is preparing an explosive, hit-packed set that shows off his ferocious wordplay; while Foo Fighters are bound to raise the roof at their Brit Awards debut.

But Critics' Choice winner Jorja Smith is the one to watch. Her devastatingly emotional single Let Me Down could provide this year's "Adele moment".

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