Yes, they are lean, keen, mean and full of beans, but exactly how relevant are The BRITs in this day and age? Is it just a showcase for the bland and average these days, or are they cleverly mixing up the manufactured shiny pop with true artistic endeavour? Is it about the music, the clothes, or the parties? Who the hell is Liam Payne? And do we really care?
In technical terms, The BRIT Awards are the British Phonographic Industry’s (BPI) annual pop music awards. The BPI is the trade body that represents the music industry here in the UK. Well, certainly the three majors that are left, and many of the bigger independent labels. In essence, the Big Boys.
Why do they matter? In terms of showcasing British music to the world – which remains a relatively strong export for the UK – and allowing plenty of mutually agreeable back-slapping, they are relevant. Though, in artistic and creative terms their worth continues to diminish year-on-year. The BRITs, after all, are primarily a sales-driven exercise. That’s why there is another mixed bag of nominations covering all bases this year; from Best Male Artist to British Album of the Year; from British Breakthrough Act to International Group; and from British Video of the Year to International Female Solo Artist.
So, while the likes of Bjork, Kate Tempest, Laura Marling, Sampha and Loyle Carner have been nominated – what we might call proper artists – we have to concurrently suffer the likes of Little Mix, Dua Lipa, Jonas Blue, Harry Styles and Jesse Ware. It’s this musical schizophrenia that makes the BRITs strangely alluring. It’s like the only time that daytime Radio One gets to properly rub shoulders with BBC 6 Music. It’s when everyone eyes each other up, semi-suspiciously. You know, in that I-don’t-trust-real-artistry kind of way. And conversely, that I-think-your-so-called-music-is-a-manufactured-pile-of-steaming-crap thought process.
As champions of new and ‘authentic’ music, we’ll be cheerleading for the likes of Sampha, Tempest et al. We’ll also be fascinated as to who wins the Best British Group category, which contains only worthy names such as Gorillaz, Royal Blood, Wolf Alice, London Grammar and The xx. Plus we’ll be cheerleading for Rag’n’Bone Man, a truly lovely bloke who made his way to stardom via the tiny stages of Brighton. But we’ll hide behind the sofa when the Mastercard Best British Album is announced. Could Dua Lipa really win? Noooooo……
Sadly, gone are the days when you would potentially get a dogs dinner of an awards ceremony. It’s super slick and technically soulless. No more do we have to suffer/enjoy the likes of Mick Fleetwood and Sam Brown (look it up kids) destroying the art of presenting, or Danbert Nobacon of Chumbawumba throwing a bucket of ice water over the then-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, or Jarvis Cocker invading the stage and comically showing his displeasure while Michael Jackson and his entourage of children hammed it up for the execrable ‘Earth Song’. Or when the KLF royally took the piss out of the whole thing in 1992, finishing off a hard day of subversive artistry by dumping a dead sheep outside the venue with the message “I died for you – bon appetit”.
More recently Adele thrust her middle finger at the cameras when her award speech was rudely cut short by James Corden who was under time pressure to get Blur on stage. Seems like play school stuff compared to some of those infamous incidents of the previous century, doesn’t it?
Oh well, we live in hope. Will someone finally heap a little humiliation on Ed Sheeran? Or Dua Lipa. Or what’s-her-face? Will there be a falling over Madonna incident to give the media ‘The Story’? Will Trump get another public pasting? Probably. But don’t expect much. The creases of controversies are being ironed out, and the chances of an unscripted moment are few and far between. You might be better off checking the action on social media. The Brits Social Squad will be presenting the launch show via Instagram, while Twitter will see two very young things present from the red carpet. If I were you I might just have several screens placed strategically around my person, so I don’t miss a thing!