January 10, 2006

Kaisers, Blunt head nominations for Brit music awards

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - Kaiser Chiefs and James Blunt led the
field with five nominations apiece when the shortlist was
announced on Tuesday for the Brit Awards, the British music
industry's big night of the year.

Hot on their tails with four nominations was Coldplay,
whose third album "X&Y" was one of the biggest releases of

Next in line with three nominations were KT Tunstall, the
Scottish singer-songwriter whose debut album has sold 1 million
copies in Britain alone, and Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand.

In the international award categories, the leaders with
three nominations each were Montreal rockers Arcade Fire and
Madonna, whose album "Confessions on a Dance Floor" has been a
chart success on both sides of the Atlantic.

But Madonna faces stiff competition in the fight for
accolade of International Female Solo Artist of the Year from
Bjork, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey and Missy Elliot.

In Britain, album sales fell by 2.7 percent last year,
although the success of homegrown artists such as Blunt,
Tunstall and Robbie Williams ensured it was not as sharp as the
7.2 percent decline in the United States.

Yet many British acts concede that cracking the key U.S.
market is still a prime objective.

"In the golden era of the 60s, the Beatles and the Rolling
Stones dominated the American charts," said Ricky Wilson of the
Kaiser Chiefs.

"Today, the United States is a much tougher nut to crack
for British artists," he told Reuters before performing at the
nominations ceremony in London.

"It is a long, hard grind, something that a lot of British
acts have given up on far too early."

Tunstall, who sets off on Sunday for two months in the
United States, agreed.

"It is incredibly difficult. A lot of British acts want to
crack it in the States, but I am sure Americans are sitting
there and going 'Come on, what have you got?'," she told
Reuters. "We cannot fathom how tough it is."

Blunt, a singer songwriter who once served in Kosovo with
the British army, was the bestseller of the year with his debut
album "Back to Bedlam."

Critics were upbeat about the quality in a fast-changing
market and said there would be plenty to celebrate when the
Brits are handed out on February 15.

"It is certainly the best year of the 21st century," said
Daily Telegraph pop critic Neil McCormick.

"The fact that legal downloading started to take off has
lifted a huge weight off the shoulders of the music industry,"
he said, referring to the rapid growth of Internet services
like iTunes that channel proceeds to labels and artists.