Award season is in full swing and last night we saw the music industry slapping itself (in rhythm) its back at the BRITs. Like the NTAs (see review here) the BRITs weren’t always this arena-filling showcase that it is now. The first occasion when the British music industry decided that huge profits, gold discs, public adoration, sex, drugs and rock’n’roll wasn’t enough for their darlings and they needed an end of term prize for their efforts, was in 1977 as part of the Queens Jubilee. It was snappily called “The BRITish Record Industry BRITannia Awards”. The awards were such a roaring success that they didn’t bother having another one until 1982. In 1977 it was presented by Michael Aspel and broadcast on ITV. In 1982 it was presented by David Jacob and wasn’t even broadcast (they really, as Ant and Dec would say, “upped their game” more on them later).
The first time we mortals got to see how useless our music heroes were at acceptance speeches (a trait that lives on today) was in 1985 when the BBC began broadcasting it. In those days it was more like the Variety Club Awards i.e. it was presented by Noel Edmonds, everyone wore tuxedos, it came from the Grosvenor House Hotel and it was all done and dusted in an hour. That year Prince won two awards and accepted it by mumbling nonsensically. I also vividly remember an Australian man coming on in a baseball cap with a dog to hand over the lifetime achievement award (which I’m sure even in 1985 went to Annie Lennox). Hold on a mo…..yep just googled it…it’s not my age, I did remember it (sort of) correctly. The chap was Maurice Oberstein and he was the chair of the BPI. He was American and the award went to the Police. You can watch it here). Glad we got that sorted out.
The award itself in those days looked like a CD (which had only been launched a couple of year previously). It was then changed into dancing musical notes, then the back of a 50 pence piece and eventually like an Oscar™ (NB: for copyright reasons can I say that any comparisons between a BRIT award and an Oscar ™ is purely coincidental and is probably more to do with the fact that Britannia Music Club took over sponsorship in the same year). If you want to see the full collection then go to Annie Lennox’s website here (I told you she had won a lot).
The award ceremony then got bigger, bolder, better, then worse, then really worse, then recorded, then live again, then bigger and finally big and quite good. So that brings us up to date with last nights show. It was hosted (for the last time) by Ant and Dec (ITV’s Noel Edmonds) wearing tuxedos and looking slightly out of place. Now I love Ant and Dec. I think they peaked on SM:TV with Cat Deeley at the turn of the century but they are brilliant at presenting live TV. But somehow this doesn’t seem to their best gig. They looked like 1970’s comedians and some of their material was reminiscent of the time period as well. The BRITs have tried a whole range of presenters over the years (everyone remembers Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood for being awful; some remember James Corden for being good; no one remembers Cathy McGowan from the 1990 show) and the search is on again for new presenters for next year.
The night began with an opening reminiscent of the 2012 Olympic games with lots of statuesque ladies becoming living BRIT statues (if on Sunday the Oscars™ do something similar with beefy men covered in gold then I reckon that’s one all on the copyright infringement front). Then Coldplay came on and where, well, Coldplay. I know Coldplay are marmite, but at events like these, they are a safe pair of hands to open. Then the awards started and pattern was set for the rest of the evening:
• When giving an award 2 people who struggled to read the autocue always did it.
• With the stage being circular, and the venue being so big, the winner never knew which way to look so just looked all around which left the TV director playing a game of cat and mouse trying to catch them actually looking at a camera.
• Adele came on and accepted every other award and occasionally swore, which was the most rock’n’roll thing that happened all evening.
The performances are really now the talking points of the BRITSs and over the two and a half hours we were treated to:
• Justin Bieber singing around a campfire with James Bay, then all hell being let loose as someone obviously hadn’t risk assessed the activity properly and before you could say “viral video” the whole stage was alight with fire and little Justin was joined by a troupe of dancers in a scene reminiscent of the film The Wicker Man.
• Singers instructing the crowd to “make some noise” which seemed counter intuitive to me. These people have paid big bucks to hear you sing and you tell them to try and drown you out. Perhaps that says something about the quality of their singing.
• Rihanna appeared to be wearing the legs from Sesame Street’s Big Bird and was joined on stage by Drake (ah, perhaps that’s why she was going for the bird theme) and performed her new single Work. The audience loved it (well they were probably just glad she turned up), but I was left still trying to locate the melody.
• Jess Glynne’s hair appeared to be channeling Crystal Tipps (from Crystal Tipps and Alistair. If you are under 40 click here) and occasionally forgot to open her mouth but carried on singing.
• Which brings us to Little Mix. Obviously one of them had popped down the ASDA yesterday and picked up Spectre on DVD as their set seemed heavily influenced by the “Day of the Dead” opening to the film. They strutted around inbetween skulls tapping their canes wearing their big Bridgette Jones pants in a voodoo meets pop mash up singing and dancing. Well dancing all the time, but apparently only singing the verses as we only appeared to be hearing the backing track during the chorus. I assume this was a technical glitch as I have a soft spot for Little Mix and judging by YouTube clips they can actually can sing live.
And then there was the Bowie tribute. Now this got me into trouble on Twitter last night as I thought GaGa was better at the Grammys, but Bowie aficionados said that at least the BRIT’s used Bowies band. That said. Lourde? Really? Still at least it was an opportunity for Annie Lennox to make an appearance and for Gary Oldman to show how to perform without an autocue.
Alas what this years BRITs lacked was controversy, bad behaviour and an 80’s icon being strangled by her own cape. Never mind. Maybe next year.