LONDON Feb 19 Homegrown acts One Direction will
vie with Arctic Monkeys for supremacy at British pop's show of
the year that is counting on global stars, including a rumoured
appearance by Beyonce, to help wow a new worldwide audience.
The two bands will be joined at the annual BRIT Awards later
on Wednesday by British acts Ellie Goulding and Bastille, but
grabbing the headlines are hotly-anticipated performances from
Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Bruno Mars.
Organisers are hoping performances from acts like Mars,
fresh from lighting up the halftime show at the U.S. Super Bowl
earlier this month and nominated for the BRITs' international
male award, will breathe new life into an event that failed to
impress last year.
For the first time, the audience will be global. YouTube
will stream the show live worldwide instead of solely on
Britain's commercial channel ITV, and fans will have the
chance during the evening to vote on twitter to decide the
British video award winner.
That accolade appears to be a shoo-in for One Direction, the
five-piece band formed in 2010 on the TV singing contest The X
Factor. With 17.8 million followers on twitter, dubbed
"Directioners", the band's support dwarfs that of the other
One Direction will go head-to-head with Arctic Monkeys for
the British Group award, battling to win one of the
mohawk-inspired black and white gongs designed by
milliner-to-the-stars Philip Treacy.
Arctic Monkeys are odds-on favourites to win the coveted
best album honour for AM and will open the show in what will be
their first BRITs performance. The Sheffield-born indie quartet
have in the past appeared less than supportive of the awards,
despite multiple past wins.
Bookies expect veteran rock star David Bowie to be named
best British male solo artist. Bowie, 67, who had his first hit
back in 1969 with "Space Oddity", won the title in 1984 and is
competing against names such as Jake Bugg, 19, and Tom Odell,
who is 23.
Ellie Goulding, who sung at the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge's wedding reception in 2011, is tipped for success in
the British female artist category. The "Burn" singer is also up
for the British single and video awards.
She will perform at the awards in a line-up which also
includes breakthrough-nominated pop acts Bastille and
Disclosure, both leading the field with four nominations each,
and drum and bass dance collective Rudimental.
Last year's BRIT Awards were labelled "boring" by singer
Robbie Williams, while Christian Tattersfield, current chairman
of the BRIT Awards committee, recently admitted in a British
newspaper that the 2013 event "lacked superstars".
The British pop industry will hope this year's big name
acts, new global audience and twitter-voted award will help
boost record sales.
Data from the British record industry association BPI and
the Official Charts Company show total retail-value sales of
recorded music fell 0.5 percent year-on-year to 1.04 billion
pounds ($1.7 billion) in 2013.