When people mention The Brit Awards you always think drunken incidents, shoddy hosting and Jarvis Cocker attacking Michael Jackson. Over the past couple of years the organisers have tried to change this reputation by focusing more on the artists, making the British Album award seem important and implanting genuine music fan James Corden as host. However last night Twitter seemed to be complaining about the lack of incident that was until the final award of the night. But why was the event so dull up to this point? And how contrived was the controversy anyway? Here’s my breakdown of the night’s events….
There seemed to be less of a focus on the awards this year and indeed as we went to the first break none of the funky statuettes had even been handed out. Going through the list of nominees beforehand my friend and I were essentially able to predict who was going to win what based on who was performing. So Bruno Mars and Rihanna easily scooped International Male and Female with Adele and Ed Sheeran picking up two each, and current hot commodity Lana Del Ray being garnered with the International Breakthrough Award. When it was revealed that the British Band Award was to be voted for by the readers of Radio 2 it was obvious that they were going to go for Coldplay as I can’t remember the last time Simon Mayo played a Chase and Status track on his drivetime show. International Group was a tricky one as there wasn’t one on the bill, so I think somebody just stuck a pin in a board and decided to give it to the Foo Fighters, although the boys themselves didn’t seem too bothered as they fielded drummer Taylor Hawkins to give a less than genuine pre-recorded message. The only one that wasn’t certain was Best British Single just because we were trying to work out which boyband had the most active Twitter followers and it seemed that One Direction trumped both JLS and The Wanted when it came down to it.
Meanwhile Emeli Sande won the Critic’s Choice Award otherwise known as the Which Female Star Do We Want To Launch This Year Award with past recipients including Adele, Ellie Goulding and Florence and the Machine. Sande’s reward for winning was to appear on the Mastercard vignettes where she and last year’s winner Jessie J met up with their respective fans and performed brief duets with them. One would hope that Sande’s talents would be better used than that but then again Blur only had a tight eleven minute set, so something had to be cut.
The acceptance speeches themselves were also devoid of any memorable lines they were a mixture of thanking the fans and more importantly the assorted record producers and AR men present in the room. The only person who sort of looked happy to win an award was Rihanna and possibly One Direction but then they just do what Simon Cowell tells them and looked lost without any adult company up on stage. The Brits themselves were completely devalued by host James Corden during a chat with Kylie, when he said that the greatest accolade in the industry was longevity and indeed if you look at the long line of winners at least a third of them didn’t have the greatest of careers. So essentially winning a Brit is only a short-term recognition and something that companies can use to promote your upcoming album. The biggie still seems to be the Mercury Prize and I don’t think I can ever see One Direction winning that but it’s up to them to prove me wrong.
I was looking forward to at least one memorable turn from someone last year it was Adele and a couple of years back it was Florence and Dizzee Rascal. However the genuine feel of the live tunes was sort of a Now That’s What I Call 2011 CD with Adele doing Rolling in the Deep, Ed Sheeran crooning through Lego House and Coldplay bringing us Charlie Brown. Both Florence and Rihanna seemed intent on outdoing each other when it came to the performance art, with the latter sort of combining Art Attack and The Cube by having lots of dancers graffiti a plastic container. I thought Florence could at least have got Paddy McGuiness on stage for a duet of No Light, No Light, with some of the Take Me Out girls accompanying them but instead her whole thing seemed to be an interpretive toga dance.
The closest we got to a classic Brits duet was Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks but as that’s been played ad nauseam on the radio it wasn’t very exciting and the less said about Bruno Mars’ jazz funk remix of The Way You Are the better.
Closing the show were Blur, a performance which reminded me of when a group of dads get drunk together at a birthday party and then thinks it’s a good idea to embarrass their kids by doing one of ‘their songs’ on karaoke, plus it seemed that Graham Coxon hadn’t changed his clothes once since 1995. I can understand why some of the kids didn’t like it but for me it was a bit of a nostalgia trip especially when Phil Daniels came on to do Parklife. But I don’t think Blur did well in the confines of this corporate shell and are much more accustomed to playing to crowds full of muddy festival-goers who appreciate this kind of thing.
The Host and Presenters
So would we get jovial James Corden of 2009 or slightly more serious James Corden from last year? The answer was the latter as the former Smithy was even more sincere than last year, his best expressions were whenever he mentioned Adele’s success as I reckon in his head he still takes a little bit of credit for ‘Someone Like You’ doing so well after last year’s awards show. He was still able to crack a few sly jokes – his best for me was about Rihanna having the painters in – but luckily that went over most people’s heads.
There were also some unintentionally funny moments such as people walking straight in front of Corden when he was trying to deliver his straight-to-camera links best of these was Labrinth who, as we all remember, was in the loo last year when Tinie Tempah wanted to thank him and was probably on his way there again this time, I think the man has a problem. The least aware host of the night was Cesc Fabragas, who apparently plays football, he obviously didn’t know who was giving an award to when he told us the winner was Esk Sha-han. Meanwhile the most uncomfortable duo was Will.I.am and Rob Brydon with the latter’s face looking like thunder when the Black Eyed Peas frontman attempted some comedy. Leave it to the professionals Will.
I feel that when Blur’s set time was announced something would have to be cut and in the end it was Adele’s second acceptance speech. After she was going to launch into a monologue about how much she loved Britain she was cut off by an apologetic Corden who threw the stage over to the Britpop Kings. This incident provoked Adele to raise her middle finger to the Brits executives and in addition also saw some booing by the young audience. By the lunchtime news everyone was talking about the cut-off and Adele’s ‘Rude Gesture’. But personally I think it was all a bit overblown and seemed almost a little contrived like they had to have a talking point after a night of relative mediocrity. I do accept that Damon Albarn did go a bit long when he was thanking everyone for Blur’s success but they were getting the lifetime achievement award after all and haven’t been present at the ceremony for seventeen years so that’s a lot of people to thank. Meanwhile we‘d already had one Adele speech earlier in the night coupled with half a dozen that she’d given at the Grammys a couple of weeks ago you were spoiled for choice if you wanted to hear her thank various people. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Corden, Adele and Albarn were in cahoots to provide at least one memorable moment in what was possibly the dullest Brit Awards of all time.
Sadly Adele’s gesture will be the only thing remembered from this year’s disappointing event which had no real surprises or great performances. It seems that those who want to make the Brits credible have in fact just made it a bit boring. If we want vanilla performances and awards that are all about the music we’ll watch the Mercury Prize but The Brits should all be about dodgy autocue reading, one-off performances and plenty of boozed-up celebs. So I think I’ll start the campaign for the return of Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood in 2013.
What did you think of this year’s Brits? Leave your comments below.
This post was written by me, guest blogger Matt Donnelly!