Feb 12

Best Brit Awards ever?

Do You See + FT35 comments • 1,495 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!!

* * *

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.


  1. 1
    punctum on 22 Feb 2012 #

    Nice try, Tracer, but this is still the last word on the Brits.

    If I ever get around to thinking that “Rollin’ In The Deep” is “pretty good” then being under the sod would be the preferable future.

  2. 2
    Pete on 22 Feb 2012 #

    I think the photo you have up there has been photoshopped. This is the photo you are correctly describing.

  3. 3
    Steve Mannion on 22 Feb 2012 #

    “represent Britain at the Grammys, “waving our little flag”

    Absolutely the green light to cut off someone’s acceptance speech when they start babbling on about this (tho not as much as thanking “God”). But to help prevent running over time further they could forbid anyone giving more than one speech on the night (or even receiving more than one award seeing as there are now only about half a dozen to give out). Yrs helpfully…

  4. 4
    Pete Baran on 22 Feb 2012 #

    Bearing in mind that Blur were
    a) playing three songs
    b) Continuing on ITV2 – which post digital switch nearly everyone has
    c) Rubbish

    It did seem harsh.

  5. 5
    Elisha Sessions on 22 Feb 2012 #

    When split-second decisions are required your true colors come out. iTV was caught in a bind – axe Blur’s third song from the main telecast, or let Adele talk? We can see how they chose. It’s not surprising to me that a woman of the moment would be thrown over in favor of a boy band from the past. What is surprising is that the instinct to do so was so strong that it trumped the commercial considerations which are always said to be paramount at these things. Rock n roll, eh?

  6. 6
    swanstep on 23 Feb 2012 #

    @elisha, 4. ITV could also (heaven forfend!) have just allowed the show to run a little long. That happens all the time with the Oscars, not to mention that with most sporting events worth their salt, the broadcast ends when play ends, whenever that is. If glorious overtime is needed that’s regarded as a bonus, etc..

  7. 7
    wichita lineman on 23 Feb 2012 #

    Dare I suggest Blur had it written into their contract that they would have to perform x number of songs or they wouldn’t play?

    ITV is taking a lot of heat for this. ‘Boy band’ Blur have egos the size of Eric Pickles. Not beyond the bounds of possibilities it was their decision.

  8. 8
    Steve Mannion on 23 Feb 2012 #

    I blame Dave.

    Can’t believe the relative fuss being made over this tho really, having actually watched it now. But I like Adele’s voice – her speaking voice I mean. ’23′ should be all spoken word.

  9. 9
    swanstep on 23 Feb 2012 #

    @7, wichita. I guess Albarn’s ego will have shrunk some after hearing the playback of his Song 2 vocal at the Brits. Blimey.

    And since we’re on the topic of Blur, I have the following nugget to share….Fans (not just me, I swear!) have often wondered who the stunning gal is in the great vid. for To The End. Laetitia Sadier from Stereolab has often been suggested, but that’s always seemed wrong to me. Happily, the woman in question recently identified herself on youtube as Amanda Doyle. She’s a model, still working apparently. At any rate, she and Albarn and Coxon in their pomp made a pretty trio (each is more beautiful than his or her Last Year in Marienbad counterpart).

  10. 10
    wichita lineman on 23 Feb 2012 #

    Poor Laetitia. They got a marginally more attractive stand-in!?

    My favourite To The End-related story is that Brett Anderson got in touch with Francoise Hardy to do a duet. When she twigged this was mere Britpop oneupmanship she sent him packing. “Back to the mean streets of Haywards Heath with you, monsieur”.

  11. 11
    Billy Smart on 23 Feb 2012 #

    Every year when the Brit Awards comes around I have the same sole thought – “They really are running out of people to give these Lifetime Achievement Awards to by now”.

  12. 12
    Conrad on 23 Feb 2012 #

    @11, they haven’t done Shed Seven yet have they?

  13. 13

    They should totally give awards for being the butt of the popchat joke for years on end!


  14. 14
    Cumbrian on 23 Feb 2012 #

    On the Lifetime Achievement/Oustanding Contribution to British Music; isn’t it usually to honour acts that have made the British Music Industry a lot of money? And if so, aren’t they just guilty of a massive failure of imagination, when it comes to who they are awarding it to? Who says it has to be a performer? It ties in nicely as they can get them to close the show but if you were to pick, for the sake of argument, Brian Eno, you could still close the show with an all star medley by bands he has produced or some such (or just him playing Music for Airports). If they’d decided to honour John Peel, you could get loads of artists that he had championed on stage for something or other. Both of these people have helped line the coffers of the music industry suits, albeit in a more roundabout way, and we’re definitely running out of acts that aren’t going to get people scratching their heads thinking “eh?”, so it seems like a decent solution.

    The other option, of course, is just to not give a Lifetime Achievement award out.

  15. 15
    Billy Smart on 23 Feb 2012 #

    Hm, its surprisingly hard to find a simple chronological list of all the Lifetime Achievement winners. So here is one!;

    1982 John Lennon (posthumous)
    1983 The Beatles
    Pete Towshend
    1984 George Martin (!)
    1985 The Police
    1986 Elton John
    1987 Eric Clapton
    1988 The Who
    1989 Cliff Richard
    1990 Queen
    1991 Status Quo
    1992 Freddie Mercury
    1993 Rod Stewart
    1994 Van Morrison
    1995 Elton John (again!)
    1996 David Bowie
    1997 The Bee Gees
    1998 Fleetwood Mac
    1999 Eurythmics
    2000 The Spice Girls
    2001 U2
    2002 Sting
    2003 Tom Jones
    2004 Duran Duran
    2005 Bob Geldof
    2006 Paul Weller
    2007 Oasis
    2008 Paul McCartney
    2009 Pet Shop Boys
    2010 Robbie Williams
    2011 Blur

  16. 16
    Cumbrian on 23 Feb 2012 #

    Well then, it seems like it’s Elton John’s turn next year right?

  17. 17
    Erithian on 23 Feb 2012 #

    The best of many quotable lines from Digital Spy’s live thread on the event came from someone who said of Ed Sheeran, “It’s like one of Boris Johnson’s testicles learned how to play guitar”.

    And re Lifetime Achievement, don’t forget the year the National Television Awards gave a lifetime achievement award to Ant and Dec. Ten years ago – when they were 27.

  18. 18
    Billy Smart on 23 Feb 2012 #

    #16 I think my money would be on Take That, if its not too soon after Robbie. Maybe Phil Collins?

    The Rolling Stones are the most glaring omission, though I imagine that Keith would refuse the honour.

  19. 19
    Erithian on 23 Feb 2012 #

    Blood and sand, that’s older than all but one of the Spice Girls when they got the lifetime achievement Brit in 2000. Baby and Sporty were barely 24.

  20. 20
    Cumbrian on 23 Feb 2012 #

    Take That’s a good bet I would say. Elton John would be funnier though.

  21. 21
    swanstep on 23 Feb 2012 #

    George Michael?

  22. 22
    Steve Mannion on 23 Feb 2012 #

    It should go to various women until 2030.

  23. 23
    Conrad on 23 Feb 2012 #

    It’ll go to Adele

  24. 24
    Cumbrian on 23 Feb 2012 #

    Find some that would want to be in the company of the list Billy put up.

    Adele for 2030 Lifetime Achievement Brit?

  25. 25

    Kiki Dee

  26. 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?

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 34
    punctum on 26 Feb 2012 #

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

  35. 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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