It’s genuinely a highlight of the musical year, if only for the thrill of the unexpected, but if we learn nothing else at The Brits each time, it’s just how difficult being a TV presenter is.
At least, the three plucky presenters inevitably made it appear so on ITV’s “Red Carpet” Show. It can’t be easy trying to fill an hour’s worth of TV with such bland interviewees as Camila Cabello to work with. Nevertheless, surrounded by a noisy rent-a-crowd with suspiciously professional levels of personal grooming, the three appeared to have a side bet on with each other as to who could elicit the least interesting answer to their questions and statements.
“I thought it was a mirage on the red carpet, but it was Paloma Faith” said one, forgetting she was not on the plains of the Serengeti but in freezing London.
“Have you prepped an acceptance speech?” asked another to five-time-nominated-Dua Lipa for want of anything else to say.
Elsewhere, Ellie Goulding deftly handled the penetrating “Why is the Brits such a monumental occasion for us each year?” while elsewhere “Do you know who you’re sitting with on your table?” was a particular highlight.
We were also told there was an artist present who was so famous he was known only by his initials, JT.
This bold statement was undermined when a) the presenter then had to explain she was talking about Justin Timberlake, mainly because Timberlake is a person who has never been referred to by his initials, ever and b) when Timberlake turned up for an interview and everyone singularly failed to call him “JT”.
For one awful moment I was worried John Terry would turn up in his kit and try to claim an award.
It wasn’t all their own fault of course as became apparent when they were joined by music expert, England striker and award presenter Harry Kane who revealed exclusively he was very excited to be there, and that he listens to Drake. Truly, Premier League footballers are today’s true Masters of Mundanity.
Jack Whitehall introduced Justin Timberlake wearing an oversized parka, possibly one being reserved for Liam Gallagher when he finally retires and really lets himself go.
Timberlake was slightly underwhelming. Aside from a moment when he appeared to be playing an eighties “Simon” toy, it was crying out for a Madonna-style performance. The one where she was yanked offstage by one of her dancers.
Daft parka aside, host Jack Whitehall began strongly with some good gags, including suggesting Ed Sheehan had been asked to play on condition he wouldn’t sing Galway Girl.
This year’s critics choice winner Jorja Smith duetted with last year’s winner Rag n Bone Man, and winner of Best British Single. Smith looked too young to know what a Rag n Bone Man was.
Stormzy won Best British Male, but (Dad joke alert) is he getting too big for his boots?
Dua Lipa won two awards and had a costume change for every occasion, albeit why she felt a swimming costume was the right outfit for her performance will remain shrouded in mystery. Shrouded is, of course, not a description that could have been applied to her derrière in that outfit.
Ed Sheehan then sang a ballad worthy of Sam Smith.
Harry Kane came on with Camila Cabello to present Best International Male (Kendrick Lamar) and the pair displayed a natural chemistry and skill in presenting we had only previously witnessed in Mick Fleetwood and Samantha Fox.
Celebrity parka-wearer Liam Gallagher sang “Live Forever” in tribute to the victims of the Manchester bombing. Given how Dua Lipa was able to perform in her swimming costume, it seemed something of an affectation for him to be wearing his coat indoors. He’ll never feel the benefit.
Sam Smith then sang a ballad that was worthy of Ed Sheehan.
Ed Sheehan (or “Ed Shi-Ran” as Elton John bafflingly introduced him as) then won the “Global Success” award for his 15.4 billion streams, which have made him dozens of pounds.
Kendrick Lamar then allowed ITV to test the patience of their audience as they muted his (presumably) family unfriendly content whilst his mate smashed a Lamborghini on stage. You had an uneasy feeling the ITV team were muting the performance just because they didn’t like it very much.
The night finished with the British Album of the Year, presented by Nile Rogers. The winner was Stormzy, who saw off competition from Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran.
So there it was. The Brits 2018. It had everything. Daft clothes, too-small a font size on the TelePrompter, politics (Damon Albarn gave his best Drunken-Uncle-At-A-Wedding speech, a mixture of confusion and brandy), and Stormzy, whose closing performance was terrific, albeit he was unfortunate to be performing in the only part of the O2 Arena that had sprung a leak. Happily it just meant he could strip to his waist and deliver the best performance of the evening.