The Brits has had more revamps than the Ford Mondeo; it’s different, yet feels the same. I’m probably the wrong person to be covering the Brits, which is probably why no one asked me to. The last time I covered it for the Evening Standard I had no idea who anyone was, quickly discovering exactly how soon employers clock a floundering blag.
Presenters, Ant and Dec continue to confound the nation as to which one is which, while informing us that Kanye West is ‘in the building’, initially it’s unclear if this is good news, or a warning. This soon reveals itself. Taylor Swift kicks things off and there should be an award for anyone identifying what the point of her is. She’s so delighted with her new Biro that someone’s written her a song about writing her name. I use ‘song’ and ‘written’ loosely; it sounds more like 3 songs tacked together, none of which have a tune.
It’s established etiquette that only famous people can present awards to famous people, but the only thing more confused than the audience as to the identity of Jimmy Page appears to be himself. Before wandering off he hands across Best British album to Royal Blood who were ‘proper’, and flexed ‘authentic’ muscle with a cracking tune that allowed the Brits to concentrate more easily on controlled pop acts. Another slight curve ball was Paloma’s Faith’s genuine acceptance speech, almost compensating for Jessie Ware’s understated modern electro soul getting overlooked. But, no amount of disco lighting can convince me that throwing shapes to Ed Sheeran is a good thing, even alone.
Kim Kardashian shimmied with a beauty that almost airbrushed itself as she walked; there are beach-ball shops with more straight lines, but you wouldn’t want to be sitting next to her on a bus. Even Sam Smith gave her a longer hug than necessary. Talking of lines, some guest presenters made you proud to be British, such as Charli XCX, (with Ferne Cotton), who lived a little too closely to her name; staggering from back stage to the autocue with the careless of falling into a minicab at 3am. Ant and Dec’s warning of Kanye West’s presence was prescient, as the king of understatement performed amidst dancers dressed as Special Ops with all the presence of a puddle. ITV muting the audio for over half the song was an excellent move as there was less of it to listen to, as Kanye redefined utter shit for the benefit of 5.2 million viewers.
Take That are the best thing to happen all night. In Robbie’s absence the lyrics have dipped back into platitudinal pop, but Barlow could write national anthems over breakfast, and while they’re missing Jason Orange, it might only be his mother and me thinking that. The trio finish amidst a cloud of confetti, grinning like they’re not going to be the ones clearing it up.
After a couple of piss-poor albums, Madonna has clearly thought very hard indeed about how to be Madonna, which probably didn’t include being dragged over by her matador cloak. But, at least it proved the vocal was (mainly) live and gave the Brits its talking point; a wardrobe malfunction that almost killed her. Is she old enough to ask if she took a fall, or simply fell over? Living for love is a return to form, and at its close her dancers fell to the floor in solidarity. The cameras were unsure where to look, but the shoddy camera work throughout the evening suggested operators had been on the Charli XCX too. And as the show came to a close, Ant and Dec disappeared under a table, ironically as the most sober people in the o2. So the same Brits, same time, same thing, next year.