Ellie Goulding said she was surprised to win Best British Female Solo Artist, but I doubt anyone else was surprised she won it after she did so well in the charts last year.
Bastille won Best Breakthrough, which I was pleased by, as I liked all of the singles they released last year, and they seem like nice chaps. Apparently they were named after the French national holiday Bastille Day, because it falls on the same day as lead singer Dan Smith’s birthday (i.e the 14th of July).
One Direction got another Special Award for Being One Direction (which Harry Styles was in the bogs for when they were called up, and had to hastily run on). They also got Best British Video, which was decided on the night by votes from Twitter users. The One Direction Twitter fans are notoriously obsessive, so there was no way they weren’t winning that. But in all fairness, they deserved to win it anyway. The shortlist was decided by which videos by British artists had the most YouTube views, not on there being anything particularly interesting about the videos themselves, and the video for their track, ‘Best Song Ever’, was the only one nominated that was memorable in any way.
David Bowie won best British Male Solo Artist, and didn’t bother turning up. As Noel Gallagher, who presented the award, put it “David Bowie doesn’t turn up for this shit”. Instead, Kate Moss read out a statement from him saying among other things a political message that Scotland should stay with the rest of the UK.
Daft Punk won Best International Group, which again after the massive success they had last year wasn’t a shock. They didn’t turn up either, their collaborator Nile Rogers accepted the award on their behalf.
Arctic Monkeys won Best British Band and Best British Album. While they don’t seem to like the awards very much, the Arctic Monkeys can usually be relied on to bring something interesting to the table if they do win. In 2007 they dressed up as Dorothy and her friends from The Wizard of Oz, and dressed as farmers in 2008. This year they didn’t come in costumes, but frontman Alex Turner made some of the more memorable speeches of the night, such as joking that they’d lost money putting a bet on One Direction winning Best British Band, and that nobody in the audience is interested in hearing the winners thank people that might have helped make the record but who they’ve never heard of. When they won the Best Album award he said that rock ‘n’ roll will never die. “It might hibernate from time to time, sink back into the swamp. I think the cyclical nature of the universe in which it exists demands it adheres to some of its rules. But it’s always waiting there, just around the corner, ready to make its way back through the sludge and smash through the glass ceiling looking better than ever”. So, yeah, there you go. The bit I liked the most about the Arctic Monkeys winning this time though was bassist Nick O’Malley going up taking his can of Boddingtons with him.
This year was James Corden’s final year presenting, and he was very much favouring the “working his notice” approach over the “go out with a bang” one. His suit caught fire at the beginning of the show, and someone came on with a fire extinguisher to put it out. Was that a stunt? Nobody seems to care. Still, whoever they get to host it next year, please don’t give it to Jimmy Carr! He appeared to present an award, and made terrible reference jokes about James Arthur and Simon Cowell which failed to raise a laugh.
Katy Perry in general was pretty terrible. Her performance of ‘Dark Horse’ was a neon rave eyesore version of Ancient cultures, with multicoloured Egyptian pyramid and dancers with Greek soldier helmets, and I think some Aztec mashed into there as well. It was like colour vomit mixed with history vomit. I don’t think I heard her sing, but given how most of her attempts at singing live go that’s probably a good thing. Then she presented an award putting on a fake British accent and did a bit of self-promotion to her tour. She asked the audience if any of them were coming. It didn’t exactly get an enthusiastic response, you could almost hear a pin drop.
The rest of the performances were quite good though. Arctic Monkeys kicked the show off well with a performance of ‘R U Mine’. Bruno Mars did a good job of performing ‘Treasure’. Beyonce in a sparkly green dress gave a classy, ballady rendition of her new single ‘XO’. Ellie Goulding did an acoustic version of ‘I Need Your Love’, her collaboration with Calvin Harris, before going into her solo hit ‘Burn’, which saw her doing a drum solo before being joined by other drummers who had flaming drumsticks.
Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers closed the show in a fun way by performing a medley of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, Chic’s ‘Good Times’ and Pharrell’s single ‘Happy’, ending with being showered in yellow balloons.
My favourite performances were the collaborations. There were two this year, and those performances more than anything else from the ceremony made me most want to sit up and take notice.
Lorde performed with Disclosure on a brilliant dreamy remix of her track ‘Royals’, which then merged into a performance of Disclosure’s own hit ‘White Noise’ with that tracks guest vocalist Aluna Francis from AlunaGeorge coming on to sing it.
Bastille and Rudimental similarly performed together with Bastille’s ‘Pompeii’ and Rudimental’s ‘Waiting All Night’ with a lot of brass and drums. Rudimental and in particular their guest vocalist Ella Eyre showed the most energy of the whole evening.
Overall I’d say the Brits this year were going through the motions, but had some good performances along the way.