Brit Awards 2022: Adele, Ed Sheeran and Dave nominated in gender-neutral awards
When the Brit Awards announced they would scrap the gendered categories that separate male and female talent last month, there were fears it would result in women being overlooked.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said she was "concerned" about female representation, while Piers Morgan called the move "woke garbage".
But the first nominations under the new system actually deliver the most female nominees in more than a decade, with Adele, Olivia Rodrigo and Dua Lipa all in the running for multiple prizes.
Adele ties with Ed Sheeran, Little Simz and Dave for the most nominations. They receive four apiece, and all feature in the prestigious best album and best British artist categories.
Sam Fender completes the shortlist for those awards, and picks up a third citation for best rock artist. Rap newcomer Central Cee also achieves three nominations, including best new artist.
Little Mix, who this year became the first female act to win best British group, are in the running for that prize once again.
Their competition includes Coldplay, who receive a record ninth nomination in the category (they've won four times) alongside grime act D-Block Europe and two female-fronted bands, Wolf Alice and London Grammar.
And Abba seal their triumphant return by being shortlisted for best international band.
It's the Swedes' first nomination since the first ever Brit Awards in 1977 - when they lost the international album prize to Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water.
This time around, they go up against K-pop giants BTS, Eurovision winners Måneskin, indie band The War On Drugs and Bruno Mars's 1970s throwback project, Silk Sonic.
A total of 13 artists got double nominations, including Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Glass Animals, Wolf Alice and Dua Lipa.
Lipa's manager, Ben Mawson, was among those who supported the Brits going gender-neutral.
"It's good to see the Brits continuing to make progress to a more inclusive awards show that puts talent first," he told the BBC last month. "It's a step that we welcome."
The prizes will be handed out on 8 February, 2022 at London's O2 Arena, with comedian Mo Gilligan taking over from Jack Whitehall as the host.
The ceremony will also see the introduction of four new genre awards - recognising the best pop, rock, dance and hip-hop acts of the year. Winners in those categories will be determined by a public vote via TikTok.
Why have the male and female awards been dropped?
Organisers announced their intention to retire the gendered categories in November, shortly before voting for the 2022 Brit Awards commenced.
It meant the creation of two new awards - British artist of the year and International artist of the year - to replace the previous male and female categories.
The move came after non-binary pop singer Sam Smith was frozen out of those awards at this year's ceremony.
"I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in," they wrote at the time. "Let's celebrate everybody, regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class."
Following Smith's statement, the Brits responded by saying "gendered categories are very much under review" while warning that "if a change unintentionally leads to less inclusion then it risks being counterproductive to diversity and equality".
After consulting with the industry, organisers decided to go ahead with the change - perhaps encouraged by the example of The Grammys and the MTV Awards, both of which dropped gendered categories in the 2010s, and have since seen an even split between male and female winners.
The 2022 Brit nominations should further reassure artists who felt they might be neglected.
In total, 18 female acts are up for an award next February. The only year this has been beaten is in 2010 - the Brits' 30th show - where two one-off award categories meant 22 female acts were nominated.
However, women are still vastly outnumbered on the 2022 shortlist.
Those 18 women are joined by 48 men, illustrating the music industry's frustratingly slow progress on diversity.
IMAGE SOURCE,BRIT AWARDS / ITV Image caption,Double nominee Anne-Marie performed on the 2022 Brit Award nominations programme on ITV
Speaking to the BBC earlier this year, organisers said this sort of disparity could actually be helpful, by turning "a spotlight" on problems that need fixing.
"As an industry, we have to acknowledge those issues and we have to act on them," said Gennaro Castaldo, from music industry body the BPI, which runs the Brits.
"Keeping the status quo won't change things in the long term. So to achieve real equality for women and artists of all backgrounds, [this] is a very positive thing."
Putting the debate aside, two female acts are the sure-fire front runners for the night's biggest prizes.
Olivia Rodrigo, who has set the charts alight with hits like Drivers License and Good 4U, would have reasonable grounds for complaint if she lost the best international artist prize.
And Adele, whose emotionally raw "divorce album", 30, is on target to become the biggest-seller of the year, is all-but locked in for the best British album award.
If the star wins all four of the prizes she's nominated for, she will equal Robbie Williams as the artist with the most Brit Awards -13 in all.