David Bowie up for prizes at Brit Awards

February 19, 2014
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US singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams, left and his wife Helen Lasichanh arrive at the BRIT Awards 2014 at the O2 Arena in London on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

LONDON (AP) — Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Bruno Mars, Nile Rodgers and Arctic Monkeys were performing Wednesday at Britain's leading music awards — and the audience was promised a number from Beyonce to add extra star power to the festivities.

David Bowie could crown a comeback year with a pair of prizes at the Brit Awards. The 67-year-old musical chameleon was nominated for British artist of the year and album of the year, for his first release in a decade, "The Next Day."

New York-based Bowie was considered unlikely to attend the ceremony at London's 02 Arena. But music legend Prince — who is in the midst of a string of British dates — showed up with his band 3RDEYEGIRL to present the award for best British female artist to singer Ellie Goulding.

Rough-edged rockers Arctic Monkeys were named best British group for a third time, while rock band Bastille was named British breakthrough act. Bruno Mars took the trophy for international male solo artist of the year.

Britain's music industry sees the Brits — the U.K. equivalent of the Grammys — as an important stage for new talent. Wednesday's awards bash, hosted by actor-comedian James Corden, featured a slew of rising British contenders, after a couple of years in which Adele and One Direction ruled the roost.

Bastille and electronic duo Disclosure had four nominations apiece, while drum 'n' bass quartet Rudimental and Goulding each had three. One Direction, arguably the world's biggest British act, had two nominations, for British single and British group.

International nominees include Drake, Eminem, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Arcade Fire.

The Brits had a longtime reputation for haphazard presentation, but have smartened up in recent years as a showcase for British sound and style, with a sprinkling of big-name international acts.

This year's slim black-and-white Brits statuette was designed by royal-favorite hat-maker Philip Treacy, the latest in a line of U.K. designers drafted in to tweak the awards' image.

Performances by Arctic Monkeys, accompanied by giant faming letters "AM"; Katy Perry, riffing on Cleopatra during a rendition of "Dark Horse"; and Bruno Mars singing smooth hit "Treasure" were slick if a tad tame.

Most winners are decided by a ballot of some 1,000 music-industry members, with several decided by public vote — including a best video category decided by social-media ballot during the broadcast.


Online: www.brits.co.uk