The Brit Awards, 25th February 2015. It was a big night. One that for twenty or so stars was the culmination of a lot of hard work, and an opportunity for talented performers to step into the big time. One that would end in triumph for some, and a setback for others. But that’s enough about the Arsenal v Monaco Champions League game. The Brits were on TV too.
It was left to Madonna, who fell from the stage during her performance to grab the night’s first and only truly shocking moment, and one that will be repeated on TV ad infinitum no doubt. It looked pretty painful, as she failed to untie her matador cape in time and crashed downwards. That she completed her performance was a feat in itself. That we all managed to sit through the previous two hours was perhaps more impressive.
They say you should be careful what you wish for. This morning, the Brits line up was looking so bland that viewers might have been forgiven for wanting Kanye West to step onstage and disrupt proceedings, surely a prospect otherwise as about as enticing as watching a spoiled nephew throw a tantrum on Christmas Day.
When, sure enough, Kanye West was announced as a performer this morning the more cynical might have thought West’s presence was solely introduced by the organisers to reignite The Brits’ reputation for controversy. But given the nominations, you suspect it might have been tricky even for West to summon enough enthusiasm to fight anyone’s corner.
As hosts Ant and Dec said to the performers “if Kanye thinks Beyoncé should have won your award, just give it to him”. Aside from the odd quip, Ant and Dec filled the evening with the sort of awkward interviews that Jools Holland had previously laid exclusive claim to. Perhaps they are making a claim to take over as hosts?
Sometimes it felt like we were at the British Breakfast Cereal and Related Ambient Goods Awards or an end-of-school-year prize-giving ceremony as one Nice Young Man after another popped up to pick up their prize.
George Ezra, Paulo Ntini and Sam Smith were all nominated for Best British Male, presumably to make Ed Sheeran appear edgy in contrast. Sheeran picked up the first award, however.
The Breakthrough act award looked like a straight fight between Sam Smith and George Ezra as to who had the blandest songs.
It was clear that some of the awards had been mis-named. “Blandest Male Solo Act” had been mis-named “Best British Solo Artist”. The “Dido Award for Background Music To Play At A Dinner Party You Have Invited Your Boss To” became “Breakthrough Act”.
Sam Smith picked up the coveted “Song Least Likely To Give Heart FM Listeners A Tummy Ache When Listening To It” Award, and the “You Heard This One In The Supermarket But Didn’t Know Who It Was By” gong.
To the uninitiated, George Ezra, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and James Bay may initially appear to produce remarkably similar laptop-soul-by-numbers-blandola-singer-co-songwriter-beige-coloured-indentikit-tosh, but this is simply not true. They are remarkably different and individually talented artists. Ed Sheeran is scruffily dressed, for example, even when he wears a smart suit, in complete contrast to the Ken-doll chic of Sam Smith, whilst James Bay has a really nice hat, of the type often worn by Victorian gentlemen in TV costume dramas.
But The Brits is an institution and can be relied upon, and not just in its annual nomination of Annie Lennox for Best British Female, or the terrible MasterCard ads. Actually perhaps the highlight was in Lennox’s traditional category, where Paloma Faith unexpectedly – and deservedly – won “Best Female”, and went on to thank pretty much everyone in the entire world. I felt a little left out that I didn’t get a mention, not that she’s ever met me…but it was a genuinely lovely moment.
The performances were sometimes memorable. Kanye West had much to live up to. West last appeared at the Brits surrounded by seventy seven models all painted in Gold, dancing to Gold Digger and Diamonds from Sierra Leone. This time, his performance was interrupted by the TV censors, objecting to either his bad language, or the incessant use of Auto-Tune. Or was it Beck getting his own back?
The one area where Rock was represented was in the Best British Group category, which saw Alt-J take on Coldplay, Royal Blood, Clean Bandit (no, me neither) and One Direction. Having One Direction in that category seemed peculiar – like nominating Einstein, Marconi, Nikolai Tesla and Professor Stephen Hawking for a Greatest Ever Scientist Award, and then adding Derek Acora to the nominations. The most likely explanation is that the organisers merged the Best British Group Award with the “Nicest British Wearers of Trousers” category, which was perhaps under represented. Well done to Royal Blood for their excellent win!
Elsewhere, Chvrches were up against Charli XCX for the “Slightly Mis-spelled Name” Award, a category that had previously been won ten years in a row by James Blunt.
St Vincent joined The Smiths, Black Sabbath, PJ Harvey, Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Roxy Music, Radiohead, The Clash, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin in not winning a Brit Award. Ed Sheeran joined The Spice Girls, Kula Shaker, Stereo MCs, Busted, S Club 7, Des’Ree, Steps and Five in winning one.
Take That played their new single Let In The Sun. They are only half the band they used to be, though. Literally, if you include Robbie and Jason’s departures, and Gary’s weight loss since he gave up the donuts.
Perhaps the greatest joy of the evening though was amongst the TV audience who spent the evening tutting and coming out with witty aphorisms like “It was much better in my day”, “What do they look like?”, “He needs a haircut”, “She’ll catch her death wearing that” and then catching themselves as they realised they just turned into their parents who came up with the same stuff watching Top of the Pops thirty years ago. Just to rub it in for those older viewers, the BBC’s website ran a quiz asking readers to test their knowledge of The Brits in the year they were born. The quiz went all the way back…to 1989.