By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - Ed Sheeran may have been the surprise package of the BRIT Award nominations last month, bagging more than anyone else, but the show itself looks set to follow a more predictable script on Tuesday -- another Adele triumph.
Sheeran, who just turned 21, was nominated in four categories -- best album for "+," single ("The A Team"), breakthrough act and male solo artist.
He is up against Adele, the world's biggest selling singer last year and fresh from a record-equaling six Grammy awards earlier this month, in the album and song categories.
Bookmaker Ladbroke's makes the 23-year-old Londoner favorite to win the female category and the big prize on the night, best album, for "21," which has sold more than six million copies in the United States alone.
It did not offer odds on the best single, but few would be surprised to see her take home the statuette for "Someone Like You."
As well as the awards there are the performances, with both Sheeran and Adele set to take the stage at the O2 venue in London where the televised event will be held.
Adele chose the Grammys to make her comeback after undergoing surgery on her vocal cords late last year, but the BRITs will be a homecoming of sorts.
Also due to sing on the night are Rihanna, Coldplay, Noel Gallagher, Florence & The Machine, Bruno Mars and Blur, who will receive an outstanding contribution award.
Unlike Adele, Sheeran is far from a household name even in his native Britain.
The acoustic guitar-strumming singer, who performed hundreds of small gigs across Britain before his breakthrough early last year, is tipped to win at least two BRIT awards -- British male and breakthrough act.
Recognizable by his unkempt red hair, the video for "Lego House" featured Harry Potter star Rupert Grint -- with whom he bears a passing resemblance -- as an obsessive fan.
His album "+" has sold a million copies, and while he is followed by hoards of fans known as "Sheeranators," he has yet to convince some critics that he lives up to the hype.
Some music writers attribute his success to his image as an authentic, unpretentious musician far from the manufactured acts produced by TV talent shows like "The X Factor."
But he was also labeled by Peter Robinson as part of the "New Boring" in music, "a ballad-friendly tedial wave destroying everything in its path." Adele, Robinson argued in an article in the Guardian, was the "Queen of Boring."
"If Adele's seen as boring, then I'm happy to be boring as well," Sheeran said in a subsequent interview with the same newspaper.
Other BRIT nominees include Jessie J, who is up for three awards, and veteran Kate Bush, shortlisted for best female, sealing a remarkable comeback.
Florence & the Machine and Coldplay are each nominated twice, as are Emeli Sande, this year's Critics' Choice winner, and Americans Bon Iver and Aloe Blacc.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)