Clash is late to the BRIT Awards nomination launch, and we're also lost in the maze that is ITV studios, trying not to look into the open-doored dressing rooms. Stopping briefly to pet Graham Norton's human-sized shaggy dog, we finally reach the concrete furnace that is Studio 2 - where bottles of water are handed out more as first aid than out of courtesy. It's an odd meeting of fired-up BRIT school kids in puffa jackets, bleary-eyed industry types and the studio crew, but as the lights come down our focus shifts to performances from four standout British acts.
Reggie Yates is our host, impressively steering interviews with the likes of Charli XCX and also members of Clean Bandit (who discuss their pet fish). The latter set an energetic pace under the spotlight with a medley of 'Rather Be' (the most-streamed song of 2014, Yates reminds us) and 'Real Love' featuring Jess Glynne on vocals. Jessie Ware follows on 'You & I (Forever)' - joining Ella Henderson, Paloma Faith, twigs and Lily Allen in the running for Female Solo Artist.
All-importantly, we find out who'll be going head-to-head for next month's Tracey Emin-designed statuettes (check out the full list of nominees here - spoiler: Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith clean up with 5 nominations each). The first award gets handed over to Critic's Choice winner James Bay, who glows onstage - belting 'Let It Go' from beneath the brim of his hat. He clutches his new piece of art enthusiastically, causing a girl in the crowd to audibly announce her newfound obsession with the Hitchin singer-songwriter.
But FKA twigs steals the show, naturally. Melting the little-known 'Hide' (off her self-released 2012 EP) into a frantic rework of 'Two Weeks', she is mesmerising, delivering a pitch/ arm-movement perfect routine. Yet once it's over she kneels next to Reggie, whispering worriedly that she didn't think the sound was quite right and, much to our delight, decides to take it from the top again. One of her backing dancers starts krumping while all this is going on, laughing at his appearance on the big screens.
The screens also show a series of 'BRIT Do's and Don'ts' courtesy of Ant & Dec who, as Yates reminds us, are to host the February awards again after 14 years - with James Corden ending his four-year stint (although is a performance of 'Let's Get Ready To Rumble' really what we need..?)
The BRIT Awards will take place on February 25th at the O2 arena, and will be broadcast live on ITV.
Words: Felicity Martin