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The Darkness and Dido lead Brits nominations (2004)

Story: Jack Foley

THEY may have missed out on the Christmas number one spot, but 2003 is shaping up to be an unforgettable year for The Darkness.

Having dominated the airwaves last year, the band have now dominated the shortlist for the 2004 Brit Awards, which seek to recognise last year's greatest performers.

The band gained no less than four mentions on Monday (January 12, 2004), for best British group, best album, best rock act and British breakthrough act.

The year's biggest selling solo artist, Dido, and Mercury Music Prize winner, Dizzee Rascal, follow close behind with three nominations each, as do (woefully) Daniel Bedingfield and Busted.

Dido is nominated for best British album, for her massive-selling, Life for Rent, as well as best British single, for White Flag, and best British female artist.

Dizzee Rascal, meanwhile, will contest the best British breakthrough act, British urban act and British male categories, although in the latter, he will be pitted against Badly Drawn Boy, David Bowie, Will Young and Bedingfield.

Dido joins newcomer, Amy Winehouse, in the best British female award, along with R&B star Jamelia, veteran Annie Lennox, and Sophie Ellis Bextor.

Curiously, there is no mention of Posh Spice, who recently confirmed that she intends to turn down the opportunity of being a presenter instead.

Of the international contingent, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera lead the nominations field, appearing on the male and female artist shortlists, as well as vying for the international album award.

Both are also in the best pop act category, which is open to both UK and overseas performers.

Still on the international front, Beyonce Knowles has two nominations, as do The White Stripes, Kings of Leon, Black Eyed Peas, 50 Cent and Sean Paul.

The keenly-contested best album prize will be fought for by The Darkness (Permission to Land), Dido (Life for Rent), Blur's Think Tank (our favourite), The Coral's Magic and Medicine and Daniel Bedingfield's Gotta Get Thru This.

Rock artists feature far more prominently this year than other years, thanks to the success of high-profile bands such as The Darkness.

Hence, Radiohead, The Coral and The Darkness will battle it out (and hopefully win) against the likes of Busted and (to a lesser extent) the Sugababes, in the best British group category.

Let's just hope that rock 'n' roll prevails on the night, and that genuine songwriters can score a triumph over the manufactured, Pop Idols contingent.

The nominations were announced in London ahead of the awards ceremony at Earl's Court on February 17.

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