- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

LONDON (AP) - Soulful songstress Adele and tousle-haired singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran lead the race for the U.K.’s Brit music awards ahead of Tuesday’s concert and ceremony in London.

Sheeran, 21, has four nominations including breakthrough act, best British album _ for the curiously titled “+” _ best single for “The A Team” and best British male solo act. The red-haired singer has been panned as bland by some critics, but has amassed legions of young fans through online releases and a relentless calendar of shows.

He’s up against James Blake, James Morrison, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Professor Green in the solo act category.

Adele, who won six Grammys last week in Los Angeles for her sophomore album “21,” is nominated for three Brits _ British album, British single for “Someone Like You” and British female artist, an eclectic category that also includes Florence and the Machine, Jessie J, Laura Marling and Kate Bush, who won the same prize 25 years ago.

Adele, who gave a show-stopping performance of “Someone Like You” at last year’s Brits, is also due to perform for the first time in Britain since undergoing vocal cord surgery to fix a potentially career-threatening throat condition.

It has been an amazing year for the singer from north London, who based her chart-topping songs of heartbreak on a rocky relationship. The “21” album has sold more than 6 million copies in the United States alone.

Sheeran said before the Brits ceremony that he expected Adele to clean up at the awards.

“She will definitely walk away with best album,” he said. “It is Adele’s year.”

Long derided as dull, the Brits have become a lively celebration of U.K. music and style. Tuesday’s event brought out a host of stars to London’s huge O2 arena, blending rock ‘n’ roll attitude and fashion finery.

Blur frontman Damon Albarn dressed down for the red carpet in jeans and a flat cap, and former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher wore a leather jacket. But others struck a snazzier note. Actor Ray Winstone arrived in a pinstriped three-piece suit, complete with watch chain.

Style standouts included pop princess Kylie Minogue, in a strapless sky blue dress; plump-lipped Internet sensation Lana Del Ray, wearing a floor-length red gown; and Florence and the Machine’s Florence Welch, in a lacy peach dress by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.

Coldplay could win their fourth best British group trophy if they beat Elbow, Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys and Chase & Status.

Nominees for international female solo artist are Beyonce, Bjork, Feist, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, while the international male race pits Aloe Blacc against Bruno Mars, David Guetta, Ryan Adams and Bon Iver.

Britpop icons Blur are scheduled to receive a special prize for their contribution to music at the televised ceremony.

The four original members _ Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree _ are performing together for the first time since a series of concerts in 2009.

Gallagher _ a member of Blur’s Britpop nemesis Oasis _ is expected to perform alongside Coldplay’s Chris Martin during the show, hosted by actor James Corden.

Most of the awards are chosen by more than 1,000 musicians, critics and record industry figures, with several decided by public vote.


Online: https://www.brits.co.uk

Jill Lawless can be reached at: https://twitter.com/JillLawless

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