HITS Daily Double


The three contenders for next year’s coveted BRITs Critics’ Choice Award in Blighty are Frances (Capitol), Izzy Bizu (Epic) and Jack Garratt (Island). Whoever wins is set for a big 2016, following in the footsteps of this year’s Virgin EMI breakout artist James Bay and last year’s victor, the omnipresent Sam Smith (Capitol), not to mention the first-ever winner, Adele (XL). So who’s our money on?

Bizu, a London-born singer/songwriter, was signed by Epic U.K. boss Dougie Bruce in 2014 after he heard her “brilliant” independently released Coolbeanz EP. Tracks released so far include “Give Me Love,” which she performed on the BBC’s Later... With Jools Holland in September, and latest single “White Tiger.”

Managed by Rachael Bee at iluvlive, Bizu has toured with fellow Epic artist Foxes, Warner dance group Rudimental and Smith, and has a sold-out London show on 11/25. Her debut album A Moment of Madness is out May 2016, produced by Luke Juby (Emeli Sande), Paul Herman (Corinne Bailey Rae), Ian Barter (Amy Winehouse), Jimmy Hogarth (Sia), Adam Argyll (Olly Murs) and Dan Grech (Lana Del Rey).

Female singer/songwriter and piano player Frances is looked after by the same team as Smith at Capitol (who this year have had another surge of seemingly relentless success with 5 Seconds of Summer). The label’s U.K. team, Nick Raphael and Jo Charrington, signed her in December 2014 after A&R scout Keir Fullerton played Charrington some early demos. The artist already had a management deal in place with by Grant Motion at Method, the same firm that reps Smith, and the deal was closed in a matter of days. Her debut album Borrowed Time is out 1/15.

And last but by no means least, the soulful Garratt is a multitalented musician, singer and producer who signed to Darcus BeeseIsland in 2014 after releasing his track “I Couldn’t Want You Anyway” earlier that year. He’s toured with Mumford and Sons and has high-profile fans in Zane Lowe and Rick Rubin. Garratt is managed by Sam Faulkner at Sarah Stennett’s First Access Entertainment (previously Turn First). His debut album Phase is out 2/19.

A female act could be in with a win, after three years of male honorees (Columbia’s Tom Odell took home the gong in 2013). Will the judges decide it’s Sony’s time to shine with Bizu after Universal’s three-year reign?

Emeli Sande won in 2012 when signed to EMI and Virgin, labels that have since merged with UMG. Universal’s Jessie J (Island), Ellie Goulding (Polydor) and Florence + the Machine (Island) complete the past winner’s list.

We’ll report back when the winner is revealed on Friday, before spending the weekend celebrating by drinking pints of ale at one of Her Majesty’s public houses.