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Candid hits the 2016 BRIT Awards

February 25, 2016

Music | by Sophia Miles


James Bay
James Bay won Best British Male. Photograph by Mary Ashton Ellis

As I’m sure anyone who has read a newspaper, turned on the TV or browsed the internet today will know, last night marked the annual celebration of the British music industry that is the BRIT Awards. Held at London’s O2 arena and, for the past two years, hosted by comedy duo Ant and Dec, it initially started in 1977 and this year was its 36th show.

Spanning just over two hours, the spectacle of acts, tributes and acceptance speeches began with an opening ceremony where numerous red­clad dancers paraded around the room. This was followed shortly after with an appearance by Coldplay, who played their latest single ‘A Hymn For The Weekend’ on a stage littered with bright ‘70s-style flower arrangements. The band later made history when they became the first group to receive the Best British Band award a record four times, up against Blur, Foals, Years and Years and One Direction.

There were some unexpected winners – Australian foursome Tame Impala took Best International Group, beating Major Lazer, Eagles of Death Metal, U2 and Alabama Shakes; and Catfish and the Bottlemen claimed the accolade for British Breakthrough Act, the category in which they shared nominations with Years and Years, Wolf Alice, Jess Glynne and James Bay. The latter voted for by Radio 1 listeners, and in keeping with this, was awarded by breakfast show host Nick Grimshaw, accompanied by his fellow X Factor judge, Cheryl Fernandez-­Versini.

Catfish and the Bottlemen claimed British Breakthrough Act. Photograph of Ryan McCann by Mary Ashton Ellis
Catfish and the Bottlemen claimed British Breakthrough Act. Photograph of Ryan ‘Van’ McCann by Mary Ashton Ellis

Stage acts were varied, from a darkened raunchy showcase of ‘Work’ by Drake and Rihanna, to an upbeat Jess Glynne medley, and Justin Bieber and James Bay united for Bieber’s stripped back acoustic single ‘Love Yourself’. International Solo Artist Brit winners were Björk and Justin Bieber, and James Bay took Best British Male over Jamie XX, Mark Ronson, Calvin Harris and Aphex Twin. The British Artist Video of the Year was the result of a live vote from viewers whilst the show was on, and was announced near the end of the programme to be One Direction for ‘Drag Me Down’. Annie Lennox gave a moving tribute to the recently deceased David Bowie, and in honour of his achievements he was announced as winner of the BRIT’s Icon Award. Bowie’s close friend, actor Gary Oldman, accepted the trophy on his behalf, and accompanied it with a heartfelt speech, prompting a standing ovation for the musical pioneer. New Zealand-born songstress Lorde then did a fantastic rendition of Bowie’s well known hit ‘Life On Mars’, complete with his former tour band, who last played together in 2004. One artist who was expected to do well was Adele, and she certainly did that, scooping Best British Single for ‘Hello’, Best British Female, MasterCard British Album of the Year for ‘25 ’ and the Global Success award. She also closed the show with a stunning execution of her most recent release ‘When We Were Young’.

Aside from notable issues regarding where artists were to look to camera and an enthusiastic emotional slip of profanities from Adele, the night ran smoothly, although criticism has since been made as to whether the diversity of Britain is correctly portrayed at the awards, in comparison to its American equivalent, The Grammy Awards.

Words by Sophia Miles