The biggest night in UK music takes place on Wednesday 25th February. That night is the Brit Awards 2015. Here at the Indiependent we’ve put a little guide to some of the nominees, refreshing your memory regarding just how much these acts have achieved over the course of 2014.
British Breakthrough Act
Chvrches – CHVRCHES haven’t just revived the synthpop sound; they’ve pushed it forward. Wave upon wave of shimmering synths, the use of processed effects, pitched-down vocal samples and frizzy synth-pad textures pummel Lauren Mayberry’s voice possess a specific, relatable humanity, which brightens the adolescent glow of her lyrics. The Scottish trio have finally finished touring the debut album and fully deserve their nomination.
FKA Twigs – It’s almost impossible to write about FKA twigs without mentioning sexuality and physicality – the dynamics within how she presents both her songs and herself in her role as performer. After releasing debut album LP1 earlier this year, which received various critical acclaim, Twigs has catapulted into the music scene and certainly means business. After making the Mercury Prize shortlist, FKA Twigs’ breakthrough hasn’t gone unnoticeable.
George Ezra – There has been a noticeable recent trend in the music industry for pale, English, soulful voices. But there is something about blonde, 21-year-old singer-songwriter George Ezra that strikes a genuinely authentic note. Playing guitar, bass and keyboards, there’s no doubt Ezra is a precocious talent, his vocals fluid and astonishingly mature. 2014 has proven to be a big year for the solo singer.
Royal Blood – A number one album, Mercury Prize nomination and sold out shows. Royal Blood have flourished massively for a two-piece band. Revolutionising the ‘Rock n Roll’ genre, the duo from Brighton are one of the best bands from the past year. The past year couldn’t have gotten any better for the band as their debut album was met with critical acclaim. Royal Blood’s triumphant breakthrough is just the start.
Sam Smith – Sam Smith’s heartbroken torch ballads have struck a chord around the world, making his dominance at the Brits all but inevitable. Smith, who won the BBC’s Sound of 2014, was the only artist to sell more than a million albums in both the UK and US last year. The solo artist’s breakthrough couldn’t have gone any better conquering both sides of the Atlantic with ease.
Words by Bill Edgar
Mastercard British Album Of The Year
This Is All Yours // Alt-J – Alt J released their much anticipated second album This Is All Yours more than two years after their debut back in 2012. The now threesomes comeback proved to be stronger than ever, managing to top both the US and UK charts on release. Alt J has a history of Brit Award Nominations, having lost to the likes of Coldplay and Ed Sheeran back in 2012.
X // Ed Sheeran – Ed Sheeran also saw his second album release with X back in June, 2014, which reached number one in twelve countries, as well as featuring his first ever UK number one single ‘Sing.’ Throughout the year, X claimed the title of the biggest selling artist album of 2014, the most digitally downloaded album of the year, AND was the fastest selling album. Winning the Mastercard British Album Of The Year would be the cherry on the cake that was 2014 for Ed Sheeran.
Wanted On Voyage // George Ezra – 2014 saw the release of George Ezras’ debut album Wanted on Voyage which featured his most popular songs ‘Did You Hear The Rain?’ and ‘Budapest.’ The bluesy, Bob Dylan-esque album topped the UK charts, as well as charting in nine other countries. Ezras’ success blew up surrounding the release of the album, with performances at both Glastonbury and T In The Park.
In The Lonely Hour // Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour, Sam Smiths debut album was released May 2014 – however it was Smiths appearance on Naughty Boy’s ‘La La La’ which earned him his first UK number one single. Smith carried this success on into his solo career with the renowned single ‘Stay With Me’ which featured highly in charts worldwide. 2014 was a great year for Sam Smith, as he became the only artist to sell one million copies both in the UK and US.
Royal Blood // Royal Blood – Royal Blood released their self titled debut album late August 2014.This was a huge year for the band – despite missing out on the Mercury Prize, Royal Blood saw quick success, reaching the number one spot on the UK albums chart. After a whirlwind tour, the album officially became the fastest selling British rock debut album in the UK since 2011 and has only continued to grow in popularity.
Words by Hayley Lynes
Best British Act
The playing field for this year’s Best British group award is tricky – two veterans (Coldplay and One Direction, both with a win or multiple nominations under their belts, respectively), and two fresh faces (Royal Blood and Clean Bandit, both of whom made their major breakthroughs in 2014). That leaves Alt-J, once previously nominated, as the wildcard.
While Clean Bandit and Royal Blood both have had a wildly successful last few years, they are both relative newbies who have only made it big in the last year or so. Nobody can underestimate Coldplay’s success- but 2014’s ‘Ghost Stories’, was, in short, relatively lackluster in comparison to previous releases. And while thrice-nominated One Direction are the UK’s resident boyband megaliths, can we really say that this group, whose music is manufactured specifically, and exclusively, for the consumption of teenage girls (quite effectively, mind) is really Britain’s best group?
So, here is the case for why the BRITS ought to go with the wildcard. Alt-J’s latest album, 2014’s ‘This Is All Yours’, is a stunning and sublime collection of songs that went straight to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Scoring a Grammy nod and critical acclaim, the band have, and are continuing, a massive world tour, including a night at the famous Madison Square Garden in New York City (capacity 20,000). Their eclectic, innovative style is unlike much else in music these days, and their characteristically British humbleness makes them all the more likeable.
Few indie bands in recent years have made it so big, and with such original output. Alt-J are quite honestly one of the UK’s best exports of the decade so far. They’re a thinking man’s band, and, simply put, nobody’s doing it like ‘em right now.
Words by Nana Gongadze
International Female Solo Artist
Beyoncé – Beyoncé’s success is pretty much known to the whole world. Not only did she take part in sold out tour, On The Run, with her husband Jay-Z, perform Flawless at the MTV Video Music Awards whilst proudly referring to herself as a feminist, but Forbes also named her the top earning woman for the second year in a row
Lana Del Rey – In early 2014, Del Rey produced a hauntingly, beautiful cover of Once Upon a Dream for the film Maleficent. June 2014 saw Lana Del Rey release her third studio album Ultraviolence which shot to number one on the U.S Billboard top 200.
Sia – Sia’s single Chandelier, released in March 2014, was a worldwide hit with critics across the globe admiring her songwriting skills and vocals. It was the lead single to her sixth studio album, 1000 Forms of Fear, which reached number one in Australia, Canada and the United States.
St. Vincent – 2014 saw the release of St. Vincent’s fourth album, Grammy nominated St. Vincent. The album reached the top 20 in both the United Stated and United Kingdom and has been named ‘Best Album’ by magazines such as The Guardian and NME
Taylor Swift – It’s undeniable that Swift has been on top form since the release of her Grammy nominated single Shake It Off in August 2014. Her album 1989, released in October 2014, has already sold nearly four million copies and continues to top the Billboard top 200 chart.
Words by Megan Stanley
British Male Solo Artist
The nominees for Best British Male Solo Artist hardly come as a surprise: Damon Albarn, George Ezra, Paolo Nutini, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. Each have rightly earned their place to be there thanks to their musical offerings during 2014 and it appears that it will be pretty tough to call the winner.
Blur-frontman Damon Albarn has taken a break from tasting Alex James’ cheese to release his solo album ‘Everday Robots’ – nominated for the Mercury Prize for best album – it openly criticises technology’s influence upon our lives whilst also featuring some very personal songs about the isolating effect of relationships.
George Ezra’s bluesy folksy tunes gained notoriety after the release of his single Budapest in 2013. His second EP ‘Cassy-O’ and his debut album ‘Wanted on Voyage’ were both released in the spring of this year, with the latter making it to number 1 in the album charts. At only 21, he is the youngest of the nominees.
Noughties favourite Paolo Nutini has returned to the scene with his third album ‘Caustic Love’, infused with funky R&B vibes, presenting a pleasant change from his acoustic guitar-backed crooning. Apple dubbed the album Best Album in their ‘Best of 2014’ and it was the fastest selling album of 2014.
Ed Sheeran’s nomination was hardly unpredictable, 2014 marked the release of his second album ‘X (Multiply)’ which was a worldwide success, making it to number 1 in 13 countries worldwide. Sheeran describes the album as a “neo-soul funk record”, like Paolo he has done well to break the confines of the “acoustic artist” stereotype.
Sam Smith’s debut album ‘in The Lonely Hour’ was released early last year, his unique voice has been commended by music critics and journalists alike. He shot to fame in a relatively short space of time thanks to his collaborations with Disclosure and Naughty Boy. Last year he won the BRIT’s Critic’s Choice Award so it will be interesting to see if he can add another BRIT to his cabinet this year.
Words by Beth Chaplow
Thinking Out Loud // Ed Sheeran –
This is a Marvin Gaye-indebted love song that has secured Sheeran’s place as a sultan of blue eyed soul. It’s the most streamed song of 2014, and expect tears to stream down faces when you walk down the aisle to it.
My Love // Route 94 –
The song that finally dethroned Happy atop of the singles charts, this deep house and Eurodance mix has paved the way for radio friendly house to walk back into its historical spot in the charts, helped greatly by the in-vogue voice of Jess Glynne.
Summer // Calvin Harris –
Suitably, this was the most streamed song of the summer. it has the hooks of its summer anthem ancestors Umbrella and California girls, and it’s a vibrant and loud track that melted ice creams at this summer’s festivals.
I Got U // Duke Dumont –
As close as the UK got to a Caribbean summer, a bold Whitney Houston sample laid over a myriad of steel drums and Balearic swagger, this huge success breathes life into summer playlists with its catchy calypso rhythms.
Nobody to Love // Sigma –
Is there a bolder move than sampling Kanye West? The man’s a creative genius, don’t you know! In an even bolder move, I’d say Kanye would quite like this. And that is perhaps the highest praise. Classic, exciting road trip music.
Rather Be // Clean Bandit –
The most time spent at number one in 3 years is no mean feat. In many ways the perfect song, Rather Be has it all. Huge hooks, that girl Jess Glynne’s so in demand voice and a fresh sound brought to it by strings.
Stay With Me // Sam Smith –
The new golden boy of pop music, and for a long time, a new golden boy with the talent to match the hype. The man has an incredible voice, and Stay With Me is a harrowing and slow burning love song that ends on a note of quality that is near unseen in pop music.
Ghosts – Ella Henderson –
Finally, an X Factor finalist who has broken after leaving the show. Ignore One Direction and ignore Olly Murs, Ella Henderson is destined for a huge career. With songs like this that undercut heavy beats with cutting guitar and beautiful vocals, it’s not hard to see why.
Budapest // George Ezra –
If ever there was case of someone not looking like the voice they have. ‘Budapest’ is a beautiful calling card that harks to the smouldering acoustic scene of the sixties, and it’s melded together by Ezra’s smooth jazz tones.
Uptown Funk // Mark Ronson –
What list would be complete without this song? A song that reminds of us all when disco wasn’t retro and when Prince wasn’t a symbol. It breaks away from Ronson’s usual heavy horns, and sounds all the fresher and all the funkier for it.
Words by Alistair Thompson-Meeks
British Female Solo
This years British Female Solo category is made up of some new faces and some old but nonetheless beautiful faces of the ever talented nominees. Newcomers Ella Henderson and FKA Twigs are up against previous nominee Jessie Ware and the old faces of Lily Allen and Paloma Faith. 2011 and 2013 show Paloma Faith as a nominee, 2007 and 2010 for Lily Allen and Jessie Ware was nominee for British Breakthrough Act back in 2013.
Ella Henderson – Despite coming sixth in the 2012 X-Factor she was signed to Syco Music. She was knocked out by James Arthur, the final winner, but is James Arthur playing on repeat during my Sunday work shifts? No he isn’t, Ella Hendersons ‘Ghost’ remained in the top five of the UK charts for eight consecutive weeks. Her album ‘Chapter One’ was released late 2014 and peaked at number one on the UK Album Charts.
FKA Twigs – The current girlfriend of Robert Pattinson, was originally a dancer who starred in some of the top music videos such as Kylie Minogue, Taio Cruz and Jessie J’s Do It Like A Dude. Now we know her as the girl who first got musical aclaim when she was called The Guardians ‘Band of the Day’ back in 2013. After releasing her album LP1 in mid Augest she received critical aclaim and her tree singles ‘Video Girl’, ‘Two Weeks’ and ‘Pendulum.’ 2014 has been a remarkable year for her, and maybe 2015 will be continuing in her fame.
Jessie Ware – In a review of her debut album by Clash magazine, they quotes Devotion as “the missing link between Adele, SBTRKT and Sade. A strong and accomplished debut.” In 2014 Ware released her latest album love ‘Tough Love,’ which peaked at number 9 on the UK Albums Charts and number 11 on the Scottish Albums Chart. Plently of display of her acrobatic vocals an new funky vocals style alongside an R&B souly tones the new album doesn’t sugarcoat the darker side of love. ‘Tough Love’ and ‘Say You Love Me’ were the two top singles, pushing her up into the UK charts both times.
Lily Allen – After going under the radar slightly to get married and have some children Lily Allen is back. A favourite amongst the Brit Awards she’s knows her way around the nominees, six nominations and one win later and she’s back with the British Female Solo Artist nomination. Funnily enough her third-cousin, Sam Smith, is also up for a nomination. After releasing her, rather contreversial, album Sheezus which rose to number 1 on the UK Charts. After tweeting “Wow, BRits NOm, what a nice suprise. Thank you powers that be.” She then added “congratulations to everyone else nominated and also everyone that wasn’t.” So it looks like Lily Allen is ready to head into the future.
Paloma Faith – The third album from Paloma Faith has brought “A Perfect Contradiction” including hits such as ‘Can’t Rely on You” and “Only Love Can Hurt This” where the latter became Faith’s highest-charting single in the UK. Partly known for her wacky clothing and victoriously rolled hair Paloma Faith has been a constant in the UK charts and this isn’t the first time she’s been nominated for a Brit award. After a post stating how thankful she was her fans have been firmly behind her. Writing a single with Pharrell Williams, ‘Can’t Rely on You’, a slick and funky album with Paloma Faiths enthusiasm echoing in the vocals and it looks like 2015 could be a good year for her.
Words by Megan Bakewell
International Male Solo Artist
Beck – In 2014 American singer-songwriter Beck released his twelfth album, the folk-rock ‘Morning Phase’, a “companion piece” to his 2002 album ‘Sea Change’. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 album chart, making it Beck’s second highest charting album in the US, and its chill, downtempo feel and slightly melancholic tone make for a deeply satisfying listening experience. As well as his Brit Award nomination, Beck has been nominated for four Grammys, and was recently announced as a headliner at the Boston Calling Music Festival.
Hozier – If you’ve not heard of Hozier – or at least listened to ‘Take Me To Church’ – by now, you’ve probably been living under a rock for the last year. The Irish musician and singer-songwriter released both his second EP album and debut studio album to critical acclaim in 2014, after the viral success of his music video for ‘Take Me To Church’, and the success doesn’t stop there – he also performed at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show alongside Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran, and was nominated for an MTV Music Award as well as the Grammy for Song of the Year.
John Legend – In 2014, John Legend paired with rapper Common to write the song “Glory” – featured in the Oscar-nominated film Selma, chronicling the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches – which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Legend’s 2013 hit single, ‘All Of Me’, is currently still at number three on the UK chart.
Jack White – Jack White, of The White Stripes fame, released his second solo album – the highly-charged, brilliantly bizarre ‘Lazaretto’ – in June 2014, which peaked immediately at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and broke the record for the largest sales week for a vinyl album since 1991. Other achievements last year include three Grammy nominations and an extensive US tour set to continue into 2015.
Pharrell Williams – At this point in time, it is strategically impossible not to have heard Pharrell’s hit single ‘Happy’ at least, say, five times. Pharrell Williams is everywhere, and in 2014 he released the funky, upbeat ‘G I R L’, his first studio album in eight years, which debuted at the top of the UK album chart and went on to peak at number one in 12 countries worldwide. Last year, Pharrell played at Wireless and the iTunes Festival, and is set to headline Lollapalooza this March as well as continuing his role as a vocal coach on The Voice US.
Words by Mia Parkes
5 Seconds of Summer – Australian pop-rock band 5 Seconds of Summer took 2014 by storm since being discovered by One Direction. Influenced by Blink 182, the band’s self-titled album hit the top ten in the UK, and became the first Australian band to hit the top spot with a debut album, selling around 260,000 copies, while their track “She Looks So Perfect” additionally proved popular by gaining them worldwide recognition.
Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters released their eighth album Sonic Highways in November 2014, the follow up to 2011’s Wasting Light. Consisting of eight tracks, it was recorded in eight different cities, and the album soundtracks each city. Additionally the band played a secret show as The Holy Shits, and are about to embark on a stadium tour supported by Royal Blood.
The War On Drugs – American indie band The War On Drugs released their third album “Lost in a Dream” in March 2014. Recorded over a period of two years, lyrically it draws upon Adam Granduciel’s experiences with anxiety. The album, influenced by Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, received critical appraisal from the likes of the NME and Pitchfork.
First Aid Kit – Swedish indie folk duo First Aid Kit released their third album, Stay Gold in June 2014. Although they stayed true to their roots, the album saw the band try out new influences and creating a bigger sound and strong harmonies. It received positive acclaim, with BBC Radio 6 Music placing it in their top 3 albums of the year.
Black Keys – The Black Keys continued to gain recognition as they released their eighth album “Turn Blue”. Grammy Award winning producer Danger Mouse helped take the band into a more psychedelic direction and created strong tracks that could fill an arena. It narrowly missed the top spot in the UK however topped the Billboard charts in America therefore helping them gain further exposure.
Words by Ermis
Other categories and nominees are as follows:
British Producer of the Year in association with MPG awards
Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory
British Artist Video of the Year
Calvin Harris – Summer
Charli XCX – Boom Clap
Duke Dumont ft Jaxx Jones – I Got You
Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
One Direction – You and I
Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down
Route 94 ft Jess Glynne – My Love
Sam Smith – Stay With Me
Sigma – Nobody to Love
Who do you think will win what? Tell us @
[Compiled by Beth Kirkbride]