So that was the BRIT Awards 2020.
The actual awards process seems to get longer each year – the shortlist for the newly-christened Rising Star Award was revealed some months ago, with the winner Celeste being revealed before Christmas.
But there was something about last night’s ceremony. Reacting to ongoing criticism of its shortlists – so often dominated by white male artists – the BRITs have overhauled the voting academy, attempting to become more in tune with breaking currents in British music.
This year’s shortlist still gained criticism, but glancing at the final winners showcases some of the very best, the very brightest voices around.
From Mabel clutching her family to Lizzo flirting with Harry Styles and Dave’s powerful, so powerful performance, it must surely go down as one of the best BRIT Awards ceremonies of recent times.
Here’s five key takeaway points.
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Mabel shows that family counts for a lot.
30 years ago Neneh Cherry came home with two BRIT Awards, cementing her position at the pinnacle of British music. This year, it was the turn of her daughter Mabel, who won British Female Solo Artist.
The announcement sparked emotions scenes, with Mabel immediately clutching her mother, before giving her parents a shout out in her speech.
Her night wasn’t over, though, with Mabel also giving a stellar performance of her Top 10 single ‘Don’t Call Me Up’, complete with an army of yellow telephones.
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Dave is perhaps the most powerful voice of his generation.
Dave has conquered all before him. The kid from Streatcham released debut album ‘Psychodrama’ last year, bowling over critics with his conceptual approach and winning the Mercury in emotional circumstances.
The South London artist made it a rare double, scooping Album Of The Year with his rightly celebrated debut LP. It was his performance, though, that seemed to catch most attention – a simple, stark take on his song ‘Black’ it includes brand new bars, with Dave labelling Boris Johnson a “real racist”.
The move sparked outraged from high level Tories, with Priti Patel pushed out on to news channels to label the claims “utter nonsense”.
One viewer was particularly exhilarated:
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Tyler gets the last laugh.
At one point, Tyler, the Creator was banned from entering the UK. Using old lyrics against him, then Home Secretary Theresa May denied him a visa, essentially blocking him from gaining access to the country.
Fast-forward five years, though, and Tyler is on top of his game. Named Best International Male, he promptly dedicated the win to his now out of work political adversary, commenting:
"To someone who I hold dear to my heart, who made it that I couldn’t come to the UK five years ago. I know she’s sitting at home pissed. Thank you Theresa May."
Tyler, the creator:— The Nikki Diaries (@thenikkidiaries) February 18, 2020
“To someone who I hold dear to my heart, who made it that I couldn’t come to the UK 5 years ago. I know she’s sitting at home pissed. Thank you Theresa May.”
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Billie Eilish is on top of the world.
Every high profile artist will have a moment when everything – every single thing – seems to coalesce perfectly.
Right now, that artist is Billie Eilish. Demolishing the Grammy Awards, giving a poignant performance at the Oscars, she then unveiled her stunning Bond theme. Invited to perform the song at the BRIT Awards, her rendition – complete with help from brother Finneas, Hans Zimmer, and Johnny Marr – was moving, sweeping, incredibly assured.
Also winning Best International Female, Billie is at the absolute pinnacle of her game right now.
Is there any need to watch the BRIT Awards on television…?
Televised awards ceremonies are always a strange business. Often, the broadcast will be slightly out of sync with the event, to allow for swearing, unexpected nudity, and other potentially offensive titbits.
Which means that, increasingly, the real audience for the BRITs rests on social media. After all, you can watch the performances on YouTube, and then interact with other fans.
So why watch it on telly?
It’s something the BRITs themselves point out, but it’s telling that each year - pretty much without fail declining viewing figures will be used to propel think-pieces discussing the decline of awards ceremonies.
Yes, the BRIT Awards still isn’t perfect – the main awards remain frustratingly centred on male artists - but last night felt vital in a way the ceremony hasn’t captured in quite some time.
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