Another year of music, another Brit Awards; what did they have in store for us this year?
The big story of the night was Adele’s middle finger. The press have gone crazy with this, claiming it overshadowed the event. Really? Here’s what happened: Adele won the most prestigious award, British Album of the year; during her acceptance speech, host James Corden had to cut her off us as Blur were due to play and then Adele swore to the camera and “suits”. As a result, the crowed booed and her fans went crazy that her speech had been cut.
All in all, it was nothing. Clearly, it wasn’t perfect, but as an live event, you have to make concessions – and all parties have since apologised. Moreover, acceptance speeches are generally boring whereas watching Blur, who collected the Outstanding Contribution to Music award, is not. The giant kebab that they performed with was interesting enough in itself.
In fact, this sideshow just made controversy from what was a fairly drab ceremony that once again became the trademark pop-based Brit ceremony. Indeed, when Corden announced the nominations for ‘International Female Solo Artist’; he quipped that it had previously been won by “little known underground artists” such as Lady Gaga and Beyonce (This year it went to Rihanna). Although Corden was purely playing on simple irony; he showed the very problem with the Brits themselves.
The awards, there to showcase the ‘best of British music’, showed that they were not based in artistic merit, but purely a predictable radioplay award. Indeed, the nominations and performances seem to be a who’s who of Brit school graduates, X-factor contestants and Radio One hype. Many of the nominations such as PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake, Jay-Z and Kanye West, and Kate Bush sometimes just look like they were placed as nominations to prove the Brits do consider less-mainstream material.
Coldplay, for example, won British Group through a public vote. However, the grounds for the band even being nominated for this award must be pretty lacking, producing their least-critically acclaimed album, Mylo Xyloto, this year. In fact, all other of the nominated bands had produced better albums in 2011. The only rational must of gone: Coldplay are a famous band, they released an album and went on tour.
Lana Del Rey unsurprisingly scooped International Breakthrough Act. Foster The People would have been my preference, but Del Rey was a better choice than Bon Iver and Nicki Minaj who both actually broke out before 2011. Del Rey seemed quite emotional and was clearly some validation for the singer; “This award means much more to me than you know”
Ed Sheeran romped to double success with British Breakthrough Act and Male Solo Artist. Looking extremely dressed down, he seemed thoroughly overawed by the latter award and caps a remarkable rise to stardom from the singer-songwriter.
The big shock was One Direction’s win of British single with ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ – a song that this publication gave a 2/10. Somehow, this nugget of corporate pop somehow beat songs from Adele and Sheeran – even my younger sister who loves them told me she thought it was strange decision.
So what of the ceremony itself? Generally, it was all very professional. Corden was fairly flat and didn’t really crack any jokes. The awards pairings were sometimes slightly odd; Cesc Fabregas and Nicole Sherzinger, will.i.am and Rob Brydon? Then there was the irritatingly monotonous voiceover woman who spoke after every award; her preoccupation with sales and YouTube hits only further thwarted the claim that the Brits were not based in popularity. The continual TV adverts promoting the artists who were on the Brits didn’t help to remove the corporate feel of the event.
The array of performers this year included stars Adele, Noel Gallagher, Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Rihanna. Generally, it was quite a mixed affair; fireworks from Coldplay, Bruno Mars’ usual enthusiasm and Ed Sheeran’s simple acoustics. However, both Olly Murs and the big performer Rihanna showed their poor live vocals; Murs playing ‘Heart Skips A Beat’ with Rizzle Kicks while Rihanna’s performance was a cave confetti disco that resembled a student ‘Rave in the Cave’. Indeed, the show was somewhat stolen by her english pop rivals, Adele and Florence & The Machine who both gave impressive vocal performances.
Adele was once again the star of the show, after her 6 Grammys, winning British Female and best album for 21.
There were also tributes to both Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston, presenting a montage of heartfelt video and slideshow tributes to both.
Overall, the event was quite enjoyable to watch, but Foo Fighters summed up the lack of credibility in the event, winning International Group and only sending a VT which didn’t even feature frontman Dave Grohl. At the end of the day, the Brits once again showed themselves to be just another cog in the self-fulfilling prophecy of pop music; hype, radio-play, awards.