The Brit Awards returned for another year, once again broadcast on ITV.
The presenters were Dermot O’Leary and Emma Willis, both likeable, reliable, experienced good presenters. In recent years The Brit Awards seem to be trying to move away from the reputation the show has of being chaotic. When it comes to hosts they’ve been very much going for a safe pair of hands each year. Well, two safe pairs of hands in this case and last year with Ant & Dec.
Dermot O’Leary and Emma Willis weren’t the first choice however. The original choice for presenter was singer Michael Buble, but understandably he chose to pull out after his son was diagnosed with cancer.
Dermot O’Leary and Emma Willis both did well, and had decent chemistry together. Though they did it almost too smoothly, it came off as if TV presenting is a bit like kineasthetic memory to them, they present so many shows they’re not even thinking, they just do it. Sometimes it looked like a fanmade YouTube video which spliced together Dermot O’Leary scenes from The X Factor and Emma Willis scenes from Big Brother.
Little Mix opened the show with a cover of ‘Ugly Heart’ by GRL. Oh, sorry, my mistake, it was just a song that sounds almost exactly like it, ‘Shout Out To My Ex’. They won the British Single Of The Year award with that song too!
To be fair, I can’t complain about that result too much, as it could have been much worse. Both Jonas Blue’s cover of Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ and Calum Scott’s cover of Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’ were nominated. Both awful cover versions that are in some ways the polar opposite of each other. Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ is a thoughtful, poignant song that Jonas Blue turned into an air-headed, emotionless piece of dance bubblegum. Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’ is an intriguing, elegant electropop song which Calum Scott turned into a dreary, clumsy dirge.
Emeli Sande won the British Female Solo Artist award and brought her sister with her as she went up to receive the award, saying she was giving it to her. It was almost like someone getting the same birthday present every year and passing one of them on to a relative. Emeli Sande performed her track ‘Hurts’ later in the show, which is exactly how you’d expect an Emeli Sande track called ‘Hurts’ to be like. It’s overwrought, it’s downbeat, it’s a big, boring ballad.
Bruno Mars performed smoochy R&B track ‘That’s What I Like’, all about stuff like silk bedsheets, eating strawberries, bottles of champagne on ice, making sweet love by the fire etc.
The 1975 won the British Group award. Frontman Matthew Healy made a speech that despite artists being told to “stay in their own lane” and not comment about political/ social issues, if you have a platform you should use it. I agree, to be honest. Everyone’s entitled to voice their opinion, and frankly the sort of people who object most to famous people doing so tend to be loudmouths who never stop telling everyone they encounter how they think the world should be run, despite being no more qualified than anyone else, and certainly not ones who just stick to what they do for a living. They also tend to be the sort of people who hate experts as well, but let’s stay on topic.
While ‘The Sound’ is a brilliant song, The 1975’s performance of it here was a little odd. Some viewers thought the show had been hacked when it flashed up messages slating the band onscreen, even though that was from the video for the track. I’m not sure it came off well in a live TV performance compared to how it did in the music video though.
Surprisingly, Katy Perry‘s performance of her new single ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ featuring Skip Marley was a highlight. Let’s be real, singing live has never exactly been Katy Perry’s strong point, though she was alright this time. But the best thing about this performance was the remarkable staging!
It began with a load of small white houses with Katy Perry walking among them, and at first I wondered if they were going for an Attack of the 50 Foot Woman thing.
Then it turned out the houses were dancers in costume, so the houses started swaying and dancing, and got up and walked about. What became the big meme this year was one of the houses falling off the edge of the stage!
The best bit came at the end of the performance, with two giant puppet skeletons dressed like Donald Trump and Theresa May, and they mimicked that photo of them holding hands! How often do you get political satire at the Brit Awards? Perhaps not the most unique way to do it, but it was funny and satisfying, I’ll take it.
There was the Global Success Award, the Special Award For Being: One Direction/One Direction again/Sam Smith/Adele/Adele again.
Rag ‘n’ Bone Man won both the Critic’s Choice Award and the British Breakthough Act, well deserved I think. He said he would use the two awards as bookends, and said his cat had nibbled on the Critic’s Choice Award.
One Direction won the Best Video award for the fourth year in a row, but frankly that award is really the Most Stans on Twitter award, as it’s decided by asking people to tweet their votes. Only Liam Payne turned up to collect the award this time. He is looking handsome these days though. I never got it before, but I think he’s quite good looking now.
Skepta performed ‘Shutdown’, and I liked the red lasers and staging looking a bit like a demonic computerised hell. As for the performance, well I can’t really say if I liked it or not, as ITV audio muted a lot of it, even though this was after the 9pm watershed! What is apt is that the performance featured the voice of a snooty woman phoning into complain that “dancing extremely aggressively” was “just not what I expected to see on primetime TV”. It’s said to be a reference to Kanye West’s performance of ‘All Day’in the Brit Awards 2015 which also had a lot of audio muting.
They sped through the International categories! Drake won the International Male Solo Artist award, and gave a video acceptance speech. Then the people presenting that award quickly announced the International Female Solo Artist winner (Beyonce) and the International Group winner (A Tribe Called Quest) as well. There wasn’t
even a video acceptance speech from either, in fact they didn’t even go through the list of nominees!
The late David Bowie was the big winner of the night, winning the British Male Solo Artist award and the MasterCard British Album of the Year award for his final
album Blackstar. It’s a fine end to an amazing career.
Actor Michael C. Hall came to accept the British Male Solo Artist award, and made probably the funniest comment of the night. “If David Bowie could be here tonight, he probably wouldn’t be here tonight”. David Bowie’s film director son Duncan Jones accepted the album award and said his father always stood up for those who are different.
2016 was a year which saw a lot of deaths of celebrities. There was a video tribute to people in the music industry who died last year. It included icons such as David Bowie, Prince and George Michael as well as young band Viola Beach whose lives were cut short in a tragic accident, and the video showed that there were many deaths of people working behind the scenes too, songwriters, producers and managers.
This led to a moving and heartfelt tribute to George Michael by his Wham! bandmates Andrew Ridgeley and Pepsi & Shirlie.
Chris Martin performed a quite nice cover of ‘A Different Corner’, with video clips of George Michael in the background, including him performing some of ‘A Different Corner’.
Chris Martin returned to the stage later, joining the rest of Coldplay and dance act The Chainsmokers for a new collaboration ‘Something Just Like This’. Despite the colour vomit staging, I really like this song. Coldplay and the Chainsmokers surprisingly make a good mixture of sounds. The lyrics to the song seem mainly about superheroes, which makes me wonder if they are angling to be included on any summer blockbuster superhero movies that might be fishing for songs for the soundtrack.
The best performance of the night was Ed Sheeran doing both his current hit songs ‘Castle On The Hill’ and ‘Shape Of You’.
‘Shape Of You’ in particular was good, a different mix of the song with a slightly rockier sound in parts, and featured a rap by Stormzy which was a great addition. An official remix version of ‘Shape Of You’ featuring the Stormzy rap is going to be released too!
Closing the show was Robbie Williams, who having won 18 Brit Awards (!) has won more Brit Awards than anyone else, ever. By this point in the night though I think everyone was a bit fed up. Robbie Williams said in an attempt to perk the crowd up “Come on! It’s nearly over! You can nearly go home!”
The Brit Awards 2017 ran smoothly, and was one of the slicker-looking ceremonies. It felt overlong though. I know I’m in no position to throw stones about going on too long given some of my blog posts, but this years ceremony did sometimes make you wonder if there was even going to be an ending. But looking back at clips, there was a lot to like . A case of the whole not being greater than the sum of its parts I guess.