Ah The Brits, the only place where James Corden is still considered mildly amusing. The charisma void was on hosting duties again last night looking like he was auditioning for Bugsy Malone sounding as if he was made up of all the extra bits of smug that had fallen off Ricky Gervais during his weight loss. Doing that ‘in awe’ voice when talking about real music, saying ‘Blur’ like it was the final secret from Fatima and generally screwing his face up in a variety of different ways to denote emotion. Witness his reaction to the ever-so heartfelt 15 seconds attributed to Whitney Houston’s passing, he spent an allotted half second grimacing like a Toby jug before getting back to business.
The business in question involved introducing what looked like the amateur drama groups’ end of term production of Hamlet featuring Florence as Ophelia. Wafting around in diaphanous petticoats and having an every-single-note-on-the-register wailathon it was supposed to evoke the romantic wind-rushing ethereal feel of Kate Bush but ended up being The Mad Woman in the Attic…the musical with Florence firmly establishing herself as the Victorian Mariah Carey in dire need of some smelling salts.
Back in modern times Adele picked up her first award of the night for Best British Female and omnipresent award-show ghoul Jessie J appeared dressed like the aftermath of Carrie’s prom night ready to force Emeli Sande’s head to explode.
Luckily there was Olly Murs and his brand of tea-time cuddle pop to comfort us. Bless Olly. He’s Sid Owen that somehow got lucky and he knows it. He gamely gallops around the stage with a haunted expression as if trying to distract himself from thinking that he could be duetting with John Alford at the Fleece and Firkin this time next year. But Olly need not worry yet, his Nan-friendly cod –reggae is the perfect type of silliness that the Brits were made for.
As much as they like to think they’re about honouring the ‘great British heritage of serious music’ they aren’t because that isn’t fun or entertaining.
Brits execs are under some misguided belief that the Britpop days were some golden era for authentic music so spend tonight endeavouring to turn the clocks back to 1995 with their Peter Blake designed sets, Noel trilling a tune, their tribute to Blur but what they don’t understand is what made that time of indie music fawning really interesting was Liam.
Liam made award shows eventful, whether it was offending Spice Girls, insulting a fragile Michael Hutchence, randomly shouting ‘sausages’ Blur-baiting, looking frankly terrifying doing the monkey man dance in a sheepskin jacket, you could always depend on Liam to liven any situation up.
Now what do we have? The half drowned rag doll that is Ed Sheeran singing about Lego Houses, Coldplay patronising the audience with their acceptance speech and Noel playing a boring version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Big Love’ accompanied by bed-wetter Chris Martin on piano. Hurrah for real music! Yes, standing still and playing a song can still be undeniably effective as Adele proved with her hurricane of sound performance of ‘Rolling in the Deep’ but this kind of set up can only truly be as interesting as the song.
What the Brits are really about is the ludicrous spectacle of pop. True enjoyment and memorable performances are the days of Geri Halliwell exiting a giant model of her own vagina, Kylie’s fantastic arse almost reducing Timbersnake to tears, Gaga in an x-rated doily singing about Princess Diana and Michael Jackson doing an impression of Jesus in white socks and slip on shoes.
The only bone-fide pop performance of the night came from Rihanna. Dressed in the oddly sexy combination of crappy jumper and beige pants she bashed around inside some paint splashed Perspex boxes with a troupe of foxy dancers to the never-ending climax of ‘We Found Love’. Confetti and paint dribbled from the ceiling as the army of dancers slipped around the stage, covering the breathless Ri-Ri. Alas it was all too brief and she was safely returned back to the box before anything got too exciting.
Not even boy band de rigueur One Direction were offered the opportunity to entertain the kids staying up late. There was only a glimpse of the perfectly coiffed combo when they won an award (which they funnily attributed to BBC Radio One when it was in fact sponsored by Capital FM) or when James Corden decided to ridicule Harry for being deemed sexually attractive by an ACTUAL WOMAN. Imagine.
Instead what the kids were treated to for their efforts was possibly the longest, most face-achingly dull acceptance speech by Damon Albarn for their Contribution to British Music award. As he twirled around the stage in a self congratulatory manner last seen when Julia Roberts won an Oscar, prattling on about tea ladies and someone we apparently wouldn’t know we prayed that Graham would manage to wrestle the mic off him for some much needed levity which sadly never came. Next time more jokes Damon or just less everything…
Thus the time it took Damon to get through his Santy list of doom was the amount of precious seconds Adele managed to lose in her acceptance speech. An award that was advertised throughout the night, an award that was boasted as ‘the big one’ by Corden for what felt like every minute of the show that didn’t feature Ed Sheeran. We know Adele gives good speech so why cut her off in such a shamefully embarrassing way? Sod the suits Corden you should have let Adele SPEAK. It could have saved the night. It could have been the most decent thing you’ve ever done in your career but he adhered and we got more Blur.
Another act that should have rebelled against the suits but instead they stuck to the script and gave a truly lacklustre meander through the annoying, predictable hits. ‘Girls & Boys’ ‘Song 2’ and ‘Parklife’ complete with a drink sodden Phil Daniels, the sight of him and Damon clutching onto each other ID bracelets rattling as they bellowed into the audience faces was like an embarrassing Dad’s competition. If only they had seized the moment and used it as an opportunity to startle the folks at home out of what their perception of Blur is. If only they hadn’t settled for the Blitz spirit, faux street-party bonhomie we thought they’d put to rest years ago. If only they hadn’t given the suits the knees-up they asked for and belted out ‘The Universal’ or ‘Beetlebum’ instead. Then they could have at least scored a triumphant sucker punch for the real music this year’s Brits were supposedly celebrating.
Originally published on state.ie