Feb 12

Best Brit Awards ever?

Do You See + FT35 comments • 1,264 views

Consider the evidence.

Adele, James Corden and George Michael at the Brit Awards 2012

* * *

The 2012 broadcast proved that time travel exists. Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins accepted the Brit for best international group via videotape, clutching the strange little statuette, and at one point even kissing it. But the show was live?! How could Mr Hawkins possibly have taped his acceptance speech before the outcome was known? The only explanation is that there were two timelines for the show. In the first, Taylor – or indeed, any or all of the other Foo Fighters – are actually at the ceremony and accept their award. However, while the band is in England, bassist Nate Mendel’s girlfriend and Sub Pop marketing honcho Kate Jackson becomes bored and elopes with former Melvins bassist Matt Lukin. Realising his tragic error, Mendel persuades the band to build a time machine so that they can go back in time and stay on the West Coast, taping an acceptance speech in advance. This buys Mendel time to spend all weekend with Jackson and even do a bit of landscaping. Ver Fighters have the foresight to bring the Brit statuette into the time machine with them so that it can be present in the acceptance video. Well played, Foo Fighters, well played. It’ll be a Nobel next time.

* * *

Lana del Rey was there, acting as bizarrely damaged and emotionally fragile in her acceptance speech as you’d expect, to the point where it’s almost impossible not to believe that her entire existence is a massive piece of assiduously rehearsed performance art.

* * *

Adele was there and sang “Rolling in the Deep”. You may be sick of it, but the Martin Scorceses of the future are going to be putting it into their movies as a signifier of the early 2010s and you’ll hear it and go “Hey, that’s pretty good.”

* * *

Part of Adele’s appeal is that she seems like a throwback to an era when everybody could agree on a singer, an exception to our current mode of demographic microsliver niches. But the Brits reminded us that the concept of a lukewarm, unconfrontational “mainstream” still has legs by serving up a big warm helping of James Blake, Kasabian, Ed Sheeran, Noel Gallagher, Anna Calvi, Chase & Status, Coldplay xvsdbi\bn … I’m sorry, I just fell asleep typing that.

* * *

And just when the Grammys had you thinking that maybe the high-end showbiz tier of the music industry isn’t all that bad, the Brits were a salutary reminder that actually most of the time, it really is. It is helpful to have this laid bare. Without the sudden jolt of grief that Whitney Houston’s death provided on the eve of the Grammys, it’s doubtful such a touching tribute would have materialized for her in LA. It would have looked a lot more like the Amy Winehouse tribute at the Brits: a black and white photo montage played over an interview clip, and a hasty segueway.

* * *

Cesc Fabregas presented an award. Cesc Fabregas!!

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The attendees displayed magnificent good sense in completely ignoring James Corden whenever he spoke, chatting amongst themselves endlessly in the vasty caverns of the O2. And Adele had the good sense to flip him off. Sure, she was flipping off “the suits”, as she said afterwards, the ones who had given Corden the command from on high to cut her acceptance speech off after 15 seconds (I timed it), but were they the only targets? It was the last award of the night. Her name had been read out by another big natural voice, George Michael, who claimed that he’d been asked to appear at the Brits for each of the last 17 years, this being the year he finally agreed to present an award – the biggest one, Best Album, to Adele. World-conquering Adele, finally coming home after her triumph at the Grammys, the youngest ever winner of the “top three” Grammys (album, record, and song of the year), the first British musician to win six Grammys in one night since Eric Clapton, and performing there for the first time since vocal surgery had laid her low. After the applause over the Blackwall Tunnel Approach died down, she began expressing how grateful she felt to represent Britain at the Grammys, “waving our little flag”, when Corden scooted up to the podium and cut her off. To the extent that Corden obeyed the suits, to the extent that he carried out their wishes, that bird was meant for him. Did we learn nothing from Nuremberg?

* * *

What was so important as to humiliatingly cut the show’s climactic moment off at the knees? Why, Blur! You know, Blur? They were a boy band in the 1990s. They’d won some kind of lifetime achievement award earlier. And now they were about to play an entire SET at the other end of the arena. Somebody’s walkie talkie must have malfunctioned. Or else playing in the O2 is like flying in the space shuttle. Once that countdown begins, clear the fucking decks. Blur waits for no one. The mood soured from the outset by Adele’s rough handling, Damon Albarn proceeded to do the equivalent of a beery karaoke version of his first band’s most radio-friendly hits. Which is to say, bellowing, off-key, out of breath and entirely too pleased with himself. So chalk up another victory for last night’s Brit awards. A definitive result on the question of whether Blur still have it.


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  1. 26
    Cumbrian on 23 Feb 2012 #

    All flippancy aside, how come Kate Bush hasn’t got one of these Lifetime Achievement Brits?

    And if it is a pure “you make us money” thing, hasn’t Sade done her bit for the British Music Industry?

  2. 27
    Billy Smart on 23 Feb 2012 #

    If it was a pure “you make us money” thing, I would have thought that Van Morrison would still be waiting! Consulting my not-very-up-to-date 2004 Guinness Book of British Hit Singles and Albums, likely-looking recipients include;

    Dire Straits
    The Rolling Stones
    Phil Collins
    Pink Floyd
    Simply Red
    George Michael
    Roxy Music/ Bryan Ferry
    Led Zeppelin
    Genesis/ Peter Gabriel

    People who are in this bracket, but won’t ever get one include The Shadows, Shirley Bassey and ELO, though I imagine that Madness just about could.

  3. 28
    pippa on 24 Feb 2012 #

    Blur were so bad it kind of made me happy. I was sad to hear emeli sande was sad about them talking to stupid bloody jessie j instead of her when she won an award.

  4. 29
    Another Pete on 24 Feb 2012 #

    #28 She did a rather good version of Country House, Emeli Sande. As bad as Blur came across it was kind of like the ghost of Brits past returning to haunt the supposedly slickness of 21st century pop which for me was a good thing. Lets see Will.i.am get the US equivalent of Ken Livingstone to appear on one of his albums instead of collaborating with the same names over and over.

  5. 30
    Lazarus on 24 Feb 2012 #

    Elvis Costello seems another notable omission, although I imagine he would refuse (and hasn’t really done much in the last 10 years). His record company don’t even seem to be very good at getting the CDs in the shops.

  6. 31
    lonepilgrim on 25 Feb 2012 #

    Blur are headlining the ‘Best of British’ concert in Hyde Park in August with special guests The Specials and New Order as part of the Olympic Closing Ceremony which doesn’t really suggest a very celebratory (or Best of British for that matter) event.

  7. 32
    swanstep on 25 Feb 2012 #

    If anyone’s interested, I’ve re(verse)-engineered Blur’s splendid To The End video with all the counterpart original Marienbad footage here.

  8. 33
    swanstep on 26 Feb 2012 #

    BTW, I’ve just discovered that youtube is (auto- right?) generating a channel for freaky-trigger-discussed music videos. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/social/blog/9z4s7AhVuCY.

  9. 34
    punctum on 26 Feb 2012 #

    #31: You mean “The Specials” and “New Order.” No Dammers or Hooky, no actual group.

  10. 35
    lonepilgrim on 26 Feb 2012 #

    #34: Absolutely. I’d much rather see The Spatial AKA Orchestra and even Gorrilaz. It’s a line-up rooted in the past aimed at a generation with disposable income. Despite the mix of races in ‘The Specials’ they and the other acts seem aimed at a predominantly white audience.

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