Who will scoop The BRITs Best Male prize in 2014?

The competition for Best British Male Solo Artist at The BRITs is one of the strongest and freshest in recent memory – just look at the artists who didn’t even make the cut, says Russell Iliffe.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 21 Jan 2014
  • min read
Paul McCartney, Elton John, Robbie Williams, Gary Barlow, Rod Stewart and James Blunt all failed to qualify despite releasing albums that have been either critical or commercial successes.  In any other year you’d bet on any of these established gents being welcomed with open arms - but 2014 is different.

This year the category favours strong new British talent such as Tom Odell, Jake Bugg and John Newman, although one particular veteran has managed to sneak under the radar.

David Bowie shocked everybody at the beginning of 2013 when his single Where Are We Now? appeared unannounced to give him his biggest UK hit since 1986. The parent album The Next Day followed in March to huge critical acclaim, topping the UK charts and causing a real buzz.

Artists of Bowie’s stature are often receiving gongs for lifetime achievements at this point in their career, so the fact that he is still being honoured for new material signals the strength of his comeback.  However, the award is perhaps more likely to go to one of the four young guns also nominated, none of whom are over the age of 25.

Nottingham singer-songwriter Bugg must certainly be a strong contender having stunned the critics and public with his Dylan-esque maturity over the past 18 months.

The teenager seems to be one of those lucky artists able to unite audiences of Radios 1, 2 and 6 Music, while his shy manner in TV interviews is an interesting contrast to his music. Last year’s sophomore set Shangri La certainly cemented Bugg’s position but hasn’t yet provided us with a stand out track to rival Lightning Bolt from his debut album.

If one nominee can be viewed as the critics’ favourite, it would have to be electronic king James Blake. The esoteric Londoner won last year’s Mercury Prize for his second album Overgrown and while his record sales may not worry his rivals, he could very well be taking a trip up to the podium on the night. After all, Ben Howard triumphed over chart heavyweights Calvin Harris and Olly Murs last year and history shows it’s not always the commercial leader who strikes gold.

Meanwhile, Tom Odell won the Critics’ Choice Award last year so could he move up a level and trounce the opposition? The singer-songwriter’s debut album Long Way Down topped the UK chart but the critics held decidedly mixed opinions with the NME giving it a damning 0 out of 10.

The man to put the money on must be Newman, who delivered one of 2013’s biggest chart-toppers with the euphoric northern soul-meets-nineties dance floor burner Love Me Again.  The big-voiced Yorkshire star’s debut album Tribute also sailed to pole position and his deserved popularity and credibility probably makes him the favourite to take home the prestigious BRITs prize this year.

Organisers have already revealed that the Critics Choice award winner is Sam Smith.

The ceremony takes place at London's o2 Arena on 19 February.