The Brits 2015 were an interesting affair. The Brits has always had a particular aura about it which makes nobody take it particularly seriously in contrast to the US equivalent The Grammy Awards. The Grammy’s involves artists and celebrities dressing up for the occasion and sitting attentively waiting with bated breath to see who has won each prestigious award. Talented musicians you would never have paired perform together and it’s a celebratory, sophisticated evening. The Brits on the other hand tends to be rather more… British. It’s a drunken catastrophe which never appears to be able to run smoothly without controversy. They couldn’t be anymore different, aside from the fact they are both music award shows. That said, I love both because they are on opposite ends of the spectrum and are both always an entertaining watch.
Ant and Dec replaced previous host James Corden as presenters of this year’s ceremony. Whereas James had a natural wit and enthusiasm for music, for Ant and Dec, it didn’t come as naturally. It was a little bit forced and ended up as bit of a Circus act for me. Whilst they had grown on me by the end, I did miss Mr Corden very much.
As far as performers go, I can’t fault it. It was an incredible line-up with some of the best artists around. That said, the quality of some of the performances leaved a lot to be desired.
Taylor Swift gave a rather seductive but a little flat, vocally, performance of massive hit ‘Blank Space’. She appeared to pick and choose which parts of the song she sung, miming badly from time to time and then singing other parts. It was an enjoyable performance but perhaps not the explosive opening performance to the Brits everyone was hoping for. She would have been better performing a little later in the show.
Four-time Grammy Award Winner Sam Smith gave a classy performance of latest single ‘Lay Me Down’, accompanied by a gorgeous string piece section. It was a lovely performance and his vocals shone as always. Royal Blood took to the stage to perform an explosive rendition of ‘Figure It Out’ – not really my thing but the other performers made up for it.
Then, the performance of the night for me was Mr Ed Sheeran. Ed did his one-man-band routine using his guitar and loop pedal. He performed latest single, the haunting ‘Bloodtstream’ in front of a visual background of a type of time lapse. It was clever, it was raw, it was gripping. By the time Sheeran growled ‘Tell me when it kicks in’ in the final couple of minutes of the performance, everyone was won over.
Then we were subjected to Mr Arrogant himself, Kanye West who leapt around the stage with more bounce than a child on a space hopper. West was introduced by wife Kim Kardashian which simply added insult to injury and took to the stage to perform new single ‘All Day’. Unfortunately, it appears that he didn’t get the memo about use of language on the Brits as every other word screamed into the microphone was ‘n*****’. The poor sound engineer had his work cut out as he was forced to hit ‘mute’ every two seconds and viewers back home were met with 30 seconds of the song once all the expletives and offensive language had been muted. The sound engineer did a fine job although a couple of bits of offensive language did manage to fall through the net. The facial expressions of the celebrities in attendance perhaps said it all. Taylor Swift looked rather stunned by the performance, as were many of us back home. It was just so full on, so unnecessarily aggressive and it was just rather odd. One was rather grateful when Mr West and his entourage left the stage and the rather less threatening Ant & Dec returned.
Take That were rather bizarrely booked to perform despite not being nominated for an award which failed to make any sense to most people. Why book a massive band and therefore recognise their continued relevance yet not nominate them for an award? Still, the band performed an explosive version of new single ‘Let In The Sun’. It’s a powerful track with house/dance beats, fierce guitar strums and empowering lyrics. The three-piece were dressed fantastically for the occasion and each performed on their instruments – Barlow on keyboard, Donald on drums and Owen on guitar. Whilst Barlow was always known for performing on his keyboard, the other two members performing instruments has been more of a Take That Mark II thing and it’s great to see. The lights, confetti, backing dancers, silky smooth harmonies all combined to make an electrifying performance. Mr Barlow did get his lyrics slightly muddled ‘Want you to see the next step a day at a time’ but it’s easily done and it’s unlikely anybody noticed. Particularly when keyboard warriors were quick to vilify the performance. It’s unfortunate they appear to not have such a place in the public’s hearts anymore since the tax scandal and Jason Orange’s departure. I personally really enjoyed the performance.
George Ezra took to the stage to perform massive hit ‘Budapest’ and did a wonderful job. He has such a rich tone to his voice that makes him sound wise beyond his ears. It’s still a great song even now after it’s over exposure on radio. Paloma Faith performed the fantastic ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’ before Madonna appeared…
I’m sure there’s not one person who is unaware of why Madonna was (and continues to be four days later) the talk of the Brit Awards. All evening, we were reminded by Ant & Dec that we had Madge’s performance to look forward to and that it had been twenty years since her last visit to the awards ceremony. Fair enough, I guess. Twenty years is a long time and there’s no denying Madonna is a global superstar. The unfortunate thing is she became the talk of the ceremony for all the wrong reasons. Because less than a minute into the song, Madonna took a tumble down a set of stairs onto her back. Apparently her cape was tied too tight and she could not undo it in time for one of her dancers to whip it off her, causing her to fall backwards. Social media responded in an amusing manner. For me personally, I was more concerned than amused. I must admit, I do often find humour in other people tripping or falling over but with Madonna, it just looked so painful. It wasn’t just a trip or stumble. She fell flat onto her back with quite an impact. Viewers at home were met with a thud and an audible ‘Oohh’ from those in attendance at the ceremony. After several seconds, Madonna carried on and managed to finish her performance, reinforcing the pro she is. I didn’t particularly enjoy the song or the performance and I do think the quality of Madonna’s music has deteriorated over the years but I still think she was wonderful to be able to finish the performance. She looked visually shaken and was a little flat vocally from that point onwards but who can blame her?! I did enjoy the response on social media, however. Lots of rather hilarious vines and memes surfaced soon after the incident. Perhaps it was a sign to Madonna that she should quit pretending she is in her twenties and to act and dress her age.
As for the awards themselves, I mostly agreed. British Male contained lots of very talented musicians and was therefore tricky to call. Very glad Ed Sheeran won, however. He has had a massive year with an amazing act. He deserves every single bit of his success. Like-wise, I’m glad he won Album of the Year. Paloma Faith was right to win British Female as her talent continues to amaze me. Her excessively long speech didn’t, however but I can forgive her because as she said, who knows if she’ll ever be in that position again? I thought British Group should have gone to Coldplay or One Direction but the fellows from Royal Blood seemed like humble, appreciative guys so I can live with that. International group was an odd category but was right to go to the Foo Fighters. It was odd Sam Smith won British Breakthrough considering it feels he has been around forever but still rightly deserved. It’s a shame George Ezra didn’t win anything considering his talent but he was very humble about it and still has a long career in front of him to win many awards. He seemed grateful even just for the nomination.
I disagreed with British Single. ‘Uptown Funk’ is a catchy number and has been a massive song. But there’s been plenty of other better singles in the past year more worthy. Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ was a sweet affair with beautiful lyrics whilst Ella Henderson’s ‘Ghost’ was a massive hit. Sam Smith’s ‘Stay with Me’ would also have been more worthy. Pharrell Williams won International Male and rightly so. What a couple of years he’s had! Taylor Swift won International Female which again, I agreed with. ‘1989’ is an awesome album. Brit’s Global Success was won by Sam Smith which was well deserved whilst Best Video was won by One Direction for ‘You and I’. Ed’s video for ‘Thinking out Loud’ would also have been worthy of a win but I do agree with One Direction’s win. I know many criticised the video for not being anything out of the ordinary but sometimes simplicity is best. I loved the special effects by direction Ben Winston and it’s a lovely video well matched to a beautiful song.
It was an enjoyable watch this year, made all the more entertaining with it’s controversial moments. Let’s face it, The Brits wouldn’t be The Brits without controversy! I am looking forward to next year’s ceremony.