The BRIT Awards 2018

The BRIT Awards returned for another year, this time presented by Jack Whitehall.

As a host, Jack Whitehall was… fine, I guess. He was a bit awkward, but he usually is. He wasn’t that funny, but then the BRIT Awards hosts never are. He was better than James Corden. Unlike a lot of BRIT Awards presenters, Jack Whitehall managed to do it without completely falling apart and while personally I was alright with how Dermot O’Leary and Emma Willis handled it last year, a lot of people thought they were too safe, so perhaps Jack Whitehall got the balance, well maybe not perfect, but better than most. His eyes are pretty too, which was a bonus for me.

The award design was basically just a red rectangle containing the award. To be honest it looked a bit like a jelly mold, or like someone had nicked the award and left behind the packaging.

After the obligatory pointless comedy intro, Justin Timberlake performed two songs, one being his new single ‘Say Something’. The performance of this featured a vocal sample of him saying “Saying something” over and over again, which then went into him with an acoustic guitar along with Chris Stapleton mainly saying “Say something” over and over again.

They had last year’s Critics Choice Award winner, Rag’n’Bone Man duetting with this year’s winner, Jorja Smith. That might have sounded like a good idea in theory,
in practice though I don’t think they gelled together.

I was pleased that ‘Human’ by Rag’n’Bone Man won British Single though, it is a very good song and by far the strongest of the ones nominated. I liked Rag’n’Bone Man’s
Ren and Stimpy shirt too.

The Foo Fighters won the International Group award, for the fourth time, though this was the first time they’ve performed for the BRIT Awards. Their performance of
‘The Sky Is A Neighborhood’ was pretty good. I’m not sure why anyone bothered constructing that cabin in the woods set though, it looked quite elaborate, but nothing
was done with it. The band performed on the ‘roof’, and Jack Whitehall was inside the cabin at the end to do a link.

I was rooting for Wolf Alice to win British Group, but it went to Gorillaz. This had both a video and a personal acceptance speech, due to the Gorillaz being a cartoon band. The video one was by Murdoc, then the human voices and people who worked on the Gorillaz’ latest album Humanz got up. Damon Albarn talked about how Britain is a small country that has done incredible things but shouldn’t isolate itself as we’re part of a big world and shouldn’t let politics get in the way. It perhaps wasn’t delivered very coherently, but it made good points.

The show had to address the terrorist attack on Manchester Arena that took place at an Ariana Grande concert in May last year, not least that it happened while people were there to enjoy a music event. The One Love Manchester benefit concert was organised afterwards and aside from being an excellent cause, it was one of the biggest musical events in the UK last year. Gary Barlow made a speech about the attack, the tragic loss of life and the benefit concert. Liam Gallagher then gave a great performance of ‘Live
Forever’ by Oasis.

I liked Sam Smith‘s performance of ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’ a lot more than I expected to, as normally I only like the Galantis remix of that song. I’ve no idea what the giant yellow slab with black markings stage set was supposed to invoke though. A giant block of cheese? Alien cave paintings? The inside of a sewage pipe?

Lorde won the International Female Solo Artist award. I’m sure we’d have all liked a performance of ‘Green Light’, but we had to make do with a “sorry I can’t be there” video message instead.

Currently the British Video BRIT Award is basically the One Direction Stan Award. It is decided from votes on Twitter, and One Direction have won it ever since the award was revived, in 2014 and every year since then. Now One Direction have split, the top five contained three ex-members, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, and Liam Payne, and eventually this year’s British Video award went to Harry Styles – ‘Sign Of The Times’, despite the video being completely unremarkable, featuring Harry Styles floating around in the sky. He didn’t even bother giving a video acceptance message, let alone turning up!

Kendrick Lamar won the International Male Solo Artist award, but his performance of ‘Feel’/’New Freezer’ was the biggest mess of the show. I don’t know if something went wrong with the introduction, but it took way too long to get going. He was laying on top of a box at the start of the song, which lasted a minute but seemed longer. Below someone smashed an expensive car up with a baseball bat, and to top it off, in what’s becoming a rather laughable tradition for BRIT Awards rap performances, ITV audio muted big chunks of it, so people watching at home couldn’t hear most of the song! It was nearly 10pm as well, why did they need to mute it that much?!

The Global Success Award, a.k.a the award they give to someone who has sold loads internationally, a.k.a The Special Award For Being: One Direction One Direction again
Sam Smith Adele Adele again Ed Sheeran. This year Elton John introduced it with a video speech, then Ronnie Wood presented it. Ed Sheeran didn’t win any of the other
BRITs he was nominated for, but I guess the Ed Sheeran BACKLASH! was inevitably going to come sooner or later. Anyone as ubiquitous as Ed Sheeran was in 2017 (every track on the album clogging up the UK top 20 singles chart was a bit ridiculous, as is ‘Shape Of You’ still being in the top 25 of the Billboard Hot 100) was going to annoy people. At the same time, it is becoming very fashionable to hate him, and to be honest I don’t think he’s as bad as he’s being made out to be in some quarters.

He performed ‘Supermarket Flowers’, which is about his late grandmother, although I guess a lot people can relate to it, the lyrics are about losing a loved one and having to go through their belongings. It was a nice performance.

Having said all that, I have no problem whatsoever with the winners of the other categories Ed Sheeran was “snubbed” in. Well, with the possible exception of the Video
one, but I’ve already gone into that. Stormzy (Male Solo Artist), Gang Signs & Prayer (Album) and ‘Human’ by Rag’n’Bone Man (Single) were all deserving winners.

By far the most fun, enjoyable performance was by Rita Ora with a medley of ‘Your Song’, ‘Anywhere’ and ‘For You’.

Liam Payne turned up at the end of the Rita Ora medley, and he and Cheryl Tweedy (yes, the spinning roulette wheel of her surnames has landed on Tweedy this week) were interviewed. That is their total contribution to this years BRIT Awards ceremony, and yet so much of the press coverage focused on them, and most of it was on Cheryl! I know she’s a pretty big celebrity in this country and she sells papers/gets clicks, so the media are going to direct their focus on her, but it is still a bit strange when you think about it.

Oh yeah, there’s was also that bit in the Cheryl/Liam interview when Este Haim from Haim was playing up to the cameras, sorry, “living her truth” in the background.

The two big winners were Stormzy and Dua Lipa, who received two awards each.

Dua Lipa won British Female Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act, on the latter she took her little brother and sister up to collect the award with her, which was
quite sweet. She also performed her charttopper ‘New Rules’, the set including a giant flamingo silouette, lots of lit up blue and pink triangles, sunbathers and a lot of lights on the floor which I think were supposed to look like a swimming pool? Anyway, well done Dua Lipa.

Stormzy won the British Male Solo Artist award and the Mastercard British Album of the Year award for Gang Signs & Prayer.

He closed the ceremony with a performance of ‘Blinded By Your Grace Part 2’ and ‘Big For Your Boots’. There was far too much rain machine on the performance, where he was also surrounded by people at desks wearing balaclava masks. Stormzy took off his hoodie after the first song, and the highlight of the whole ceremony was a freestyle rap in between the two songs where he said “Yo, Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell? What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell?”, slated The Daily Mail and said he was moved by seeing other black British people succeeding, such as Daniel Kaluuya winning the Rising Star Award at the BAFTAs. During a moment of personal achievement it was great and satisfying that rather than basking in glory Stormzy used that moment to deliver statements like that.

The BRIT Awards always end up as some level of So OK It’s Average. I’d say on the whole the 2018 ceremony was slightly more interesting than most, but only slightly.

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