hmv.com previews... The 2017 BRIT Awards
It's that time of year once again and next Wednesday (February 22nd) will see the great and good of the British music industry gather at London's O2 Arena for the 2017 BRIT Awards. This year's line-up of live performers includes Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, The 1975 and Skepta, among several others, with this year's hosting duties being handled by Dermot O'Leary and Emma Willis. But what else can we expect from this year's show?
With the BRITs just a few days away, we've rounded up five key things to watch out for at this year's ceremony...
David Bowie could pick up a couple of awards from beyond the grave
Anyone who watched the BRITs ceremony last year will remember that one of the show's highlights was the moving tribute to David Bowie, but it may not be his last appearance at the BRITs. Because of the timing of the release of his final album, Blackstar, Bowie is eligible in both the British Male Solo Artist and British Album of the Year categories. Not only that, but if the bookies are to believed he stands a good chance of winning in at least one of these, if not both.
In the former category, Bowie will be up against this year's Mercury Prize winner Skepta, Michael Kiwanuka, Kano and a resurgent Craig David, who scored a Number One his comeback album Following My Intuition last year. In the latter category, Bowie will again face competition from Kano, Skepta and Michael Kiwanuka, as well as The 1975.
The Knowles sisters will be battling it out in the Best International Female category
Unless you've been living in a cave for the last couple of decades, it's unlikely that Beyonce needs any introduction and after narrowly losing out to Adele for her work on 2016 album Lemonade, she finds herself in the running for Best International Female at this year's BRITs. But she's not the only member of the Knowles family on the shortlist, with her younger sibling Solange also earning herself a nomination for her superb album A Seat at the Table, released toward the back end of 2016. So, like the Venus and Serena Williams of the music world, the two sisters will face each other at this year's awards ceremony, but it's anything but a two-horse race.
Also in the running are Rihanna and singer/songwriter Sia, whose recent album This Is Acting has seen her step out of the shadows and firmly into the spotlight. They are joined on the shortlist by Christine and the Queens, the stage persona of French artist Héloïse Letissier, whose debut album Chaleur Humaine performed very well last year. Beyonce is the obvious favourite, but not by a huge margin and this could be one of this year's mostly tightly-contested categories.
Can anyone outvote One Direction's fans to win Best Video?
As one of two awards voted for the public (the other being Breakthrough Act), Best Video is one of the most closely contested and any occasion when One Direction are in the running spells trouble for the other competitors, with their army of loyal fans making them the obvious favourites. There are plenty of other strong contenders for the award with some brilliantly-directed videos in the running this year, but they'll have a mountain to climb if they want to outvote the 'directioners'.
If anyone can do it, it might be that the combined fan-bases of Rihanna and Calvin Harris – who are on the shortlist for their collaboration 'This Is What You Came For' – but it remains to be seen whether that will produce the kind of voting power needed to push One Direction into second place.
British Female Solo Artist could be this year's most tightly-contested category
Last year's nominees in this category could have been forgiven for writing off their chances after spotting Adele's name on the shortlist - and they wouldn't have been wrong, to be fair – but this year there aren't really any clear favourites for British Female Solo Artist and it could be a very close run thing indeed.
Competing for the award are Emeli Sande and Ellie Goulding, both of whom could be described as likely contenders, as well as Lianne Havas and Nao, neither of whom are too far behind. They are joined by Anohni, whom those with reasonably good memories might recall as the lead singer of Antony and he Johnsons, who won the Mercury Prize in 2005. The transgender singer rounds off the shortlist for her work on last year's debut album under her new name, Hopelessness. All of them are strong contenders and of all this year's categories, this is the hardest to predict. We'll stick our necks out here and go for Emeli Sande, we'll have to wait and see if we're right.
Robbie Williams will add a BRITs Icon award to his trophy cabinet
Formerly known as the Outstanding Contribution to Music award, The BRITs Icon award was given a rebrand in 2014, with Elton John becoming the first recipient. The last few years have seen the award, in both guises, be handed out in a somewhat haphazard fashion (there were no recipients in 2011, 2013 or 2015), but this year Robbie Williams will be handed the prestigious award. Williams is already the most decorated artist in BRITs history, having picked up a total of 17 BRIT awards to date, including five during his tenure with Take That and an Outstanding Contribution to Music award, as it was then still known, in 2010. This year's award will be his 18th and the singer will mark the occasion by joining the line-up of artists due to perform live at this year's ceremony.