LONDON: Folk-pop singer Ed Sheeran will go head-to-head with rising R&B star Dua Lipa at the Brit Awards in London on Wednesday, the country’s showpiece music awards ceremony.
The ceremony at the cavernous O2 Arena is expected to have a political edge, with many stars due to wear small white roses to highlight sexual harassment in the industry, and to show solidarity with its victims.
Sheeran’s album “Divide”, a global chart-topper, is on the shortlist for the British Album of the Year, along with Dua Lipa, grime artist Stormzy, singer Rag’n’Bone Man, and hip-hop artist J Hus.
In the British Male Solo Artist category, Sheeran is also up against Stormzy and Rag’n’Bone Man as well as former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and hip-hop singer Loyle Carner.
He is also running against Dua Lipa for the best video award.
Singer-guitarist Sheeran, 27, has already been honoured in 2018, winning the Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Album ahead of Lady Gaga and Coldplay, and Best Pop Solo Performance for his song “Shape of You”.
His latest album “Divide” has smashed many records, including on streaming app Spotify, where it received 57 million listens on the day of its release.
Dua Lipa, 22, is the latest artist to break through on YouTube, and her single “New Rules” has surpassed one billion views on the video-sharing platform.
She is nominated in five categories, including British Female Solo artist, along with Paloma Faith, who won the award in 2015, Kate Tempest, Jessie Ware, and Laura Marling.
Born in London to Kosovar parents of Albanian descent, Dua Lipa tried modelling as a teenager before launching her musical career with a series of covers published on YouTube.
Her eponymous debut album, released in mid-2017, received rave reviews, with influential magazine NME praising her voice and a sound mature beyond her years.
Other categories include British Group, where the nominees are Gorillaz, London Grammar, Royal Blood, Wolf Alice, and The xx, as well as International Group, which will be fought out between the Foo Fighters, Haim, The Killers, LCD Soundsystem, and Arcade Fire.
Budding soul sensation Sampha, who won the coveted Mercury Prize in 2017, is nominated alongside Dua Lipa, J Hus, Loyle Carner, and Dave in the Breakthrough category.
Taylor Swift, Lorde, Bjork, P!nk, and Alicia Keys have all received nominations for the International Female Solo Artist award, with Childish Gambino, Beck, DJ Khaled, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar all in the running for the male equivalent.
The Brit Awards have recognized the cream of British pop music since they were first held in 1977 but often attract controversy.
Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker invaded a performance by Michael Jackson in 1996 and then-deputy prime minister John Prescott was doused by a bucket of ice water in 1998.
This year’s nominations have attracted criticism from the Daily Telegraph, which lamented the triumph of the “popular over the interesting, the successful over the plucky, and the beige over the bold.”