To the annual bonfire of the vanities that is the Brit Awards, this year promising to be more outlandish, unpredictable and entertaining than ever, in the same way Stalin promised civil liberties and free elections across the wartime Eastern Bloc. Let's have a look at this year's marketing opportunities:
British Male Solo Artist: James Morrison, Jarvis Cocker, Lemar, Paolo Nutini, Thom Yorke
Radiohead have never won a Brit, but Lemar's got two. Read into that what you will. Thom and Jarvis' presences seem a little like a sop to divide up the Heart FM audience pleasers. The idea Lemar might have three Brit awards seems a trifle silly, so put the house on it being taken home by Nutini, Del Monte's new Nutini.
British Female Solo Artist: Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, Jamelia, Lily Allen, Nerina Pallot
No outright makeweights in there at all, unlike usual, even if Bailey Rae didn't become the globe straddling megastar everyone assumed she'd be this time last year. We don't mind Pallot, who penned a lengthy critique of Polydor's A&R man on an industry message board just before they dropped her, and we quite liked the original mix of Everybody's Gone To War. The winner will depend on how coherent they want the speech to be, and thus may depend on how far into the night this award is placed. It'll be Lily, just so the papers have something to write about. It's a social networking site that new acts can upload music to, we hear.
British Group: Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Muse, Razorlight, Snow Patrol
Oh, so Snow Patrol do technically count, then, what with essentially being Irish and that. Hard to muster much excitement about this, in all honesty, as nobody's going to sweep the board from this sort of position. Will the Arctics be there, as every two-bob reporter will query?
British Album: Back To Black, Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not, Alright Still, Black Holes And Revelations, Eyes Open
Of course the Monkeys won an award last year on the back of their album, such is the way of radio block voting, of which more shortly. Prediction: whoever wins the above won't win this. More helpful prediction: see first sentence.
British Single: Put Your Records On, Fill My Little World, You Give Me Something, She Moves In Her Own Way, A Moment Like This, Smile, America, I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker, Chasing Cars, Patience, All Time Love
Not sure if this is the usual selection of the year's best UK-based sellers but we do know commercial radio listeners are doing the initial voting, followed by a live vote on the night (it's modern television, remember, so it must be interactive. Media, do your own work occasionally!) so that'll be Gary Lightbody trying to look humbled.
British Breakthrough Act: Corinne Bailey Rae, The Fratellis, James Morrison, The Kooks, Lily Allen
The reason for the 'breakthrough' soubriquet (rather than 'new' tag, which was still applicable when Belle & Sebastian won with their third album) was that the nominated acts were adding something new to the music scene. That's at the very least three of those ruled out, then. Chosen by Radio 1 listeners, and a check of that station's silly Top 40 Bands Of 2006 list reveals it's the Fratellis' to lose.
British Live Act: George Michael, Guillemots, Kasabian, Muse, Robbie Williams
Hark, the sound of token gestures. Just because they've played live gigs doesn't mean they're necessarily a great live act. Good to see Guillemots, but no chance. You'd think Muse would piss it, but it's been left to Radio 2 voters just to make sure Robbie gets something. Don't bother, BPI, he won't turn up.
International Male Solo Artist: Beck, Bob Dylan, Damien Rice, Jack Johnson, Justin Timberlake
Well, this is clearly a wide open field and in no way a hot tabloid favourite plus four for ballast. One of our favourite moments of televised Brits was when Dylan was last nominated and every nominee in this category got screamed at by the overexcitable crowd... except for what was quite clearly mass nervous shuffling when Zimmerman's features appeared on the big screen. And if that seems like an odd name to throw into the middle of a set of nominees...
International Female Solo Artist: Beyonce, Cat Power, Christina Aguilera, Nelly Furtado, Pink
Best not to prepare a speech, Chan. Really, what the hell is Dane Bowers going to do when asked to comment on her on the preview shows? Well, we know what he'll do, he'll go "what, Cat Deeley's got a record out? Eh? Eh?" Oh, it's Nelly's to lose.
International Group: The Flaming Lips, Gnarls Barkley, The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scissor Sisters
Tricky to call, apart from that it won't be ver Lips as they've not been nominated elsewhere. The Chilis won't be there, the Scissors have already had the Brit plaudits, the Killers could be seen as too Americana and Gnarls Barkley as too unpredictable. A score draw, everybody goes home unhappy.
International Album: Modern Times, St Elsewhere, FutureSex/LoveSounds, Sam's Town, Ta-Dah
Again, there's a very real chance that of the four that aren't Dylan at least two will take the speech opportunity to praise him. Take that, Brits School kids. Obviously Sam's Town will take it, as the Killers are performing.
International Breakthrough Act: Gnarls Barkley, Orson, The Raconteurs, Ray Lamontagne, Wolfmother
You'd imagine only Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse have a chance here, but this is the Brits. If anyone's going to show Britain up with a vote for Lamontagne, it'll be the Brits committee, which is why it's lucky it's voted for by MTV viewers. Yeah, apparently MTV still has a music ethos as opposed to a "laugh at the teenage American girls, go on!" ethos.
Outstanding Contribution To Music: Oasis
Great, we can all watch something else at the end. Maybe Guigsy and Bonehead will come back, like a Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame induction.