Consider the evidence.
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!!
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.