It’s the highlight of the UK pop music calendar. No, not the moment that X-Factor finishes. No, it’s nothing to do with Bieber being arrested, or that satellite link up with the Doctor Who studio and One Direction that had a delay longer than the time it takes for someone to tell a joke and for Mariah Carey to understand it (and that’s a really long time). No, it’s the other highlight. The Brit Awards.
Thirty years ago the nation used to collectively sit down once a week to celebrate all things Top of the Pops. Now, Pop on TV is merely an annual event, which perhaps explains why I had only heard three of the top ten songs up for “Single of the Year”. That or I’m a hopelessly out of touch middle aged bloke who is too old for all that stuff (surely not?).
Rizzle Kicks began proceedings on ITV2’s Red Carpet with as much aplomb as they did last year. Which is to say they sadly looked hopelessly out of their depth again, asking Lily Allen whether she had ridden a zebra (yes she has) and then asking guests what tiny object might be hidden under a hat. Only a very mean person would say it was their combined talents. However Rizzle Kicks looked positively slick compared with Laura Whitmore who dug a crater sized hole for herself after presenting Ellie Goulding with a cucumber after reading a tweet that incorrectly claimed said item was on Ellie Goulding’s rider. Goulding disguised a look of horror and bafflement in a wonderful car-crash TV moment.
As a celebration of British music, it was great to see homegrown stars such as Prince (he’s from Huddersfield), Beyonce (Grew up in Deal, Kent) and Bruno Mars (born in Buckinghamshire and went to Eton until he was sixteen)
The show was opened by the very British Arctic Monkeys, up for best British Group and British Album of the Year. They looked good, albeit if I had put on a gold or chequered jacket and blue trousers like that to go out, my wife would have given me a look and made me get changed into something else. Alex Turner totally carried it off.
James Cordon was MC for the fifth and last time and turned up with his sleeve on fire. His sleeve was hotter than his jokes…
The first award was for best female and was announced by Prince who just happened to be in town to celebrate James Cordon retiring from the show – with Ellie Goulding winning.
Katie Perry then performed as a day-glo Egyptian. Her performance was as understated as it sounds.
Bruno Mars then popped up to collect an award, which, like his performance, was brilliantly exciting, if you have an unbelievably low excitement threshold. He was up against Eminem and John Grant for best international male, which would have made an entertaining dance off, but sadly the judges intervened before that dream became a reality. Rather wonderfully, James Cordon introduced Mars as “the finest showman working in the world” whilst Prince was still in the room without, apparently, an ounce of irony.
British Breakthrough Act was Bastille. My pick would have been London Grammar, but there you go…
Cordon tried to make things edgy by sitting with One Direction, talking about prison rape for Justin Bieber and going to an ad break by saying “we’ll be back quicker than Bieber can skin up”. Lovely.
Arctic Monkeys picked up Best British Band. “Well that’s the £15 we put on One Direction down the drain” said Turner, maintaining a superb track record of acceptance speeches.
For the second year running a manufactured band won a manufactured award – the one that Uncle Simon invented for them last year. They then outdid themselves by winning a second made up award. This begs the question, has One Direction ever won a Brit award that is older than they are?
Beyonce came and went with “XO”, a vaguely pleasant song but if anyone knows what an Exo is, please keep it to yourself.
Lorde then teamed up with Disclosure. I must say Lorde has improved immeasurably since she ditched that whole “Finnish Heavy Metal” vibe after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006. Disclosure are of course the first band to be named after a tablet since the Flu Fighters. Ironically, despite being named after a dental treatment, their music normally makes my teeth hurt. As their song progressed it made me yearn for James Cordon to step up and tell them we were time constrained and move the show along.
Best International Group was Daft Punk. They couldn’t pick up their award though – probably weren’t allowed in the O2 without taking off their helmets. The biggest mystery here was that Kings of Leon were nominated following an underwhelming 2013 from them. Were they really one of the six best groups last year?
Best British male was introduced by Noel Gallagher. Bowie won! The fact that Bowie is better than Tom Odell shouldn’t be a massive surprise, but this is the Brits after all. “You didn’t think Bowie would turn up for this did you? He wouldn’t turn up for this s–!” said Noel, truthfully. Kate Moss turned up wearing Bowie’s legendary bunny jump suit – incredible stuff – to collect the award on Bowie’s behalf.
Jake Bugg was also nominated. Amusingly Jake Bugg was quoted in his local newspaper as saying he “didn’t really want to go” but would do so anyway as he didn’t have anything better to do. When asked why, he said whilst he enjoyed the after show parties the actual ceremony was somewhat dull “because you have to watch all those crap acts perform”. No doubt that’ll get Bugg scratched off Beyonce’s next support act slot…
There were a couple more things – Bastille teamed up with Rudimental – and then the Arctic Monkeys’ AM album won Album of the Year – a double win for them.
The night drew to a close with Pharrell’s hat (followed after a brief interlude by the man himself wearing it) and Nile Rogers teaming up with a medley of hits – Get Lucky, Good Times and Happy,
So farewell then Brits – until next year…