It's Brit Awards night, and as ever the orgy of self-congratulation is accompanied by its undesirable parent or guardian the Anything Can Happen Night Of The Year motif. Bollocks, of course, but it's a piece of self-mythologising that people genuinely believe in. The Times' "you know that music we've been airily dismissing for the last year? Forget that, it's all wonderful and fine" piece on Saturday contained this quote by Mike Smith, managing director of Columbia Records. “The things that happen at the Brits are major cultural events. Jarvis Cocker undermining Michael Jackson; John Prescott being humiliated by Chumbawamba.” Yeah, except the Prescott water incident was a sixth form common room prank made stupid flesh - Chumbawamba sneaking an anti-Labour pro-striking Liverpool docker message into their performance on the night of Tubthumping was far more direct and connective but nobody thought to follow it up - and as for the thing everyone says was the great leveller of 90s music in Britain... well, until some footage turned up three days later nobody knew what Jarvis had actually done apart from get on stage as the event director missed it, and indeed the story the following day was that he'd been arrested for assaulting a child who was onstage with Jackson, it turning out that several had been knocked over by security men rushing to grab him from well away from Jacko and company. Yeah, an immediate cultural impact there.
Still, if we must we must. So, from just before 8pm we'll be live Twitter commentating on the Brit awards, hopefully not so much in so short a time that we get suspended from the service like Graham Linehan during his Bad Film Club experiment the other night. And yes, you're more than welcome to chip in. Let's get #brits onto the front of Twitter Search at the very least.
Before all the fun commences, we're going to take our semi-legendary 'averaging 5 1/2 at guessing Mercury nominations' talents to bear on who we reckon will win tonight. Put an accumulator on it, why don't you.
Best British group: Coldplay, Elbow, Girls Aloud, Radiohead, Take That
Tough call, this. Elbow aren't going to sneak through and Radiohead won't please, well, anyone essentially, but it's cigarette paper stuff between the bankability of the other three. We can see Girls Aloud getting it so ITV can interview Cheryl at even greater length afterwards, but then Take That and Coldplay seem to be the easy options year after year. They can't genuinely give everything to Take That yet again, can they? Coldplay for the fudge win.
Best British male: Ian Brown, James Morrison, The Streets, Paul Weller, Will Young
God, look at this for a category. Ian Brown is clearly some sort of new Annie Lennox given his album came out in September 2007, while James Morrison returned in December. Problem is there's nobody at their peak here so it's going to look like the path of least resistance whoever it goes to. Skinner should have won it by now and hasn't, Will Young's barely done much... you can see the thinking if as the reported betting scam has it Paul Weller wins, but it doesn't fill you with a great deal of confidence in the range. Plus he's already got a Lifetime Achievement Award off them.
Best British female: Adele, Beth Rowley, Duffy, Estelle, MIA
On the other hand this is three live contenders, one dark horse and Beth Rowley to make up the numbers. We hope she's got nothing planned. With Duffy's success versus the desire to give Adele something for the Brit School promotion it's entirely possible Estelle could sneak through the middle, but Duffy winning would be the red top friendly version of events.
Best British breakthrough act: Adele, Duffy, The Last Shadow Puppets, Scouting For Girls, The Ting Tings
God, Scouting For Girls got three nominations for an event through which the BPI hope to sell the nation's taste internationally. Duffy's probably got it sewn up here, but a little voice at the back of our head is just telling us that the Ting Tings could scrape a compromise win.
Best British single: Adele - Chasing Pavements, Alexandra Burke - Hallelujah, Coldplay - Viva La Vida, Dizzee Rascal/Calvin Harris/Chrome - Dance Wiv Me, Duffy - Mercy, Estelle Ft Kanye West - American Boy, Girls Aloud - The Promise, Leona Lewis - Better in Time, Scouting For Girls - Heartbeat, X Factor Finalists - Hero
Voted for by commercial radio listeners, so the threat of an X Factor winner and a great long closeup of Simon Cowell is still live. Because if it's not Alexandra, it'll be Duffy again, because the only other proper crossover single hit there is American Boy and commercial radio still doesn't trust urban music.
Best British Album: Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, Duffy - Rockferry, Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid, Radiohead - In Rainbows, The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
Simple, this. Coldplay win, Chris spends his entire speech apologising to Guy.
Best British live act: Coldplay, Elbow, Iron Maiden, Scouting For Girls, The Verve
Voted for by Radio 2 listeners, so you'd imagine a Coldplay-Elbow scrap. Voted for by The People, though, so we're just thinking that a community has got together and decided to bring the metal appreciation to prime time ITV. If this happens, the showbiz columns will be unreadable. No, more so than usual.
Best international group: AC/DC, Fleet Foxes, The Killers, Kings Of Leon, MGMT
Best international album: AC/DC - Black Ice, Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes, The Killers - Day & Age, Kings Of Leon - Only By The Night, MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
What a wide range of overseas talent we take into our hearts these days. Still a good number of tiny meatballs in the Meat Feast offer topping here, none of which will concern the phalanx of stagebound Followhills. America shrugs.
Best international male: Beck, Neil Diamond, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Seasick Steve
One of our favourite memories of watching Brits was when Bob Dylan got nominated for this about ten years ago and his turning up in the nominees film was greeted by complete silence from an otherwise constantly screaming audience. Neil Diamond will get this and possibly even less. Seasick Steve is only there for romantic reasons that will not be evident in Kanye's video acceptance.
Best international female: Beyonce, Gabriella Cilmi, Katy Perry, Pink, Santogold
Cilmi is being promoted as a British artist in America, partly on the back of Winehousemania and partly because, we assume, the truth might take too long (ie any time) to explain. Perry would be the obvious choice in a way, which is why the judges will have a loss of composure and trust Beyonce more.
Critics' Choice: Florence And The Machine
Smelling salts will be provided to anyone wanting to take in Ms Welch's acceptance speech without fearing for the future, and possibly all humanity. Thing is, this time last year Adele, who won this one, had already had a number one, whereas with Florence we're still tentatively feeling our way around what we all think of her. Every chance this could be swept under the carpet by mid-February 2010.
Producers Award: Bernard Butler
For what? For big strings, knowing of Martha and the Vandellas' Nowhere To Run in as much detail required to work it into his big hit, and by all concensus ruining Black Kids forever.
Outstanding Contribution To Music: Pet Shop Boys
No further questions, your honour. Just don't let Robbie Williams near the stage.