There’s something about The Brits that can bring out the worst in people. Some watch The Brit Awards the way paparazzi watch for wardrobe malfunctions. They wait with bated breath for the moment that Madonna is pulled off stage by her cape, for Sam Fox to fluff her lines or for Jarvis to decide he has had his fill of Michael Jackson’s Christ-like portrayal of himself by showing his immaculately tailored backside to the cameras.
They… ah, who am I kidding. It’s not “they”. I’m talking about me. Those moments are why I watch The Brit Awards every year.
Sadly, or perhaps thankfully, there were no such events tonight, with the “wow” moment being a tribute to George Michael.
The Brit Awards are also a fascinating bell weather of the British music scene. It may be possible to judge the health of the British music industry by comparing The Brits to The Grammys. Let’s try…
Performing at last Week’s Grammys was Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Beyoncé.
Performing at The Brits this week was Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars (so far so good)…and Little Mix.
Leading the Grammy Award nominations was Beyoncé.
Leading the Brit Award nominations was Little Mix.
Last week’s Grammys were boycotted by Kanye West.
The Brits have been boycotted by Olly Murs.
And who says X-Factor has been a bad thing for British music?
Let’s start with those who weren’t present…
Murs was reported to have cancelled his performance after realising he hadn’t been nominated for any awards, in what appears to be the biggest flounce since Andrew Cole retired from international football after being dropped from the England squad and told he couldn’t play any more.
The thought that Olly Murs cancelled his performance because he hadn’t been nominated for an award is almost as seismic as the belief that he might have done something to deserve one. Perhaps that runner up spot in X-Factor eight years ago is still digging into his soul…
Mr Murs’ principled stand is certainly one to admire. There are certainly several dozen pop stars I can think of whom I would like to see taking a similar position of never ever playing their music unless they are nominated for an award. We might start with Mariah Carey, especially at New Years Eve parties…
Mind you, if there was a Brit Award for “Longest Wikipedia entry” Olly Murs would be in strong contention. His page runs to many thousands of words, despite his career seeming about as eventful as an average episode of Lark Rise To Candleford.
Murs’ Wikipedia entry is so long, and yet so bereft of genuinely interesting content, it contains such gems as “he appeared on a celebrity edition of Deal or No Deal, where he won 50p for his chosen charity”.
I’m not making this up.
Robbie Williams, meanwhile was present to collect this year’s Icon Award, an accolade previously given to John Lennon, and performed a medley to close the show. Robbie has now won 18 Brit Awards and mused recently (and perhaps immodestly) “Why hasn’t Paul McCartney got 18? Why hasn’t Elton John? It’s hard to work out why”.
It isn’t really that difficult to work out Robbie. The Beatles split up in 1970 and The Brit Awards started twelve years later. Oh, and whilst in 1969 The Beatles would have been up against The Stones, The Kinks and The Who for best band, Robbie’s main competition back in the day was David Gray and Craig David.
Oh, and would it be rude to point out in 2006 he lost to James Blunt…?
Sorry. Got sidetracked. He’s not that bad really…Robbie deserves our general admiration for tunes such as “No Regrets” and a Brit Award for just not being Gary Barlow.
He also played his part at the award ceremonies himself, memorably trying to set up a fight with Liam Gallagher at the awards in 2000.
To his credit Robbie also said he has given away past awards to friends, including Wayne Rooney, which is a nice touch as it may be the last trophy Rooney will ever receive.
Back to the awards themselves, the evening began with Britain’s answer to Beyoncé, er, Little Mix. Carried onstage by Doctor Who villains they sang their poptastic hit “Shout Out To My Ex”, which won “Best Single”.
Emile Sandé won best British female and must have been hugely relieved Adele didn’t qualify for a nomination.
Bruno Mars then sang a song that was striking only in its mundanity.
The biggest battle of the evening was in Best British Group where two giants of British Pop battled it out. Radiohead and Little Mix.
That’s right, only The Brits would have Little Mix against Radiohead for “Best Band”… and then give the award to The 1975…
Accepting their award, The 1975 then encouraged fellow artists with a platform to say something political, and speak out, or as they put it “don’t stay in your lane”.
They themselves then said nothing further, which felt rather like a missed opportunity to hear some pop stars emote about politics. Perhaps it’s for the best…
David Bowie won best male artist and Album of the Year, whilst Rag n Bone man won Breakthrough Act. The award for best video should have been called the award for “The Most Organised Fans on Twitter”. The only fan-voted award, it went not entirely coincidentally to the band with the most Twitter followers, One Direction. It’s a system as fair as allowing the populations of Luxembourg and China to vote for themselves in a “Who has the Best Country” award.
I enjoyed The 1975’s performance. The song was interspersed with banners flashing up on screen with criticism of the band such as “unimaginative wannabes”, “Pompous Arena Rock” and “trying too hard”. It was rather likeable.
Andrew Ridgley, Pepsi and Shirley then spoke beautifully of George Michael and introduced Chris Martin, who sang a duet of “A Different Corner” with video of George Michael. It was hugely touching. Even if as a singer Chris Martin is no George Michael (and who is?) he has as big a heart.
Adele won an award – the Global Success Award – an award originally invented to give One Direction something to take away when they performed a few years ago. It’s almost as if Olly Murs might have been dangling for that one….
And finally perhaps one area where British music is showing signs of health away from the clutches of Cowell and crew is the Grime scene, and Mercury Prize winning Skepta was on hand to showcase “Shutdown”, whilst Stormzy joined Ed Sheeran onstage. Grime may yet to see its success reflected in actual Brit Awards, which is a shame for The Brits. The best we can say is that sometimes genres flourish away from the mainstream. Winner of two awards tonight, David Bowie never had his music recognised by The Grammys during his lifetime. The likes of Skepta and Stormzy can take comfort from that fact.