Friday, February 21, 2003

Something always happens at the Brits

Maybe we could have ITV for false advertising. Although, to be fair, the duffest Brit Awards so far wasn't their fault, more down to pisspoor planning, but we should have known the confidence with which they were allowing them to be broadcast on merely a two hour delay (enough for them to have cut out the Prescott drenching; not enough to have made anything approaching a silk purse out of Sam and Mick) was a signal they knew it would be dull.

Partly because they were held in a theatre. This is so wrong - with the audience all seated in ranks, coupled with the lack of refreshments, you don't get the sense that this is a music industry awards ceremony; it feels more like The Smash Hits Awards, only with all the energy sucked out the room. No wonder they resorted to playing taped applause all evening. Of course, with the quality of awards winners on offer, you can see why they were keen to rig the show to minimise hecklers - "It's good" said one of Blue "people are showing us respect the way we show the rest of industry respect." But you have to show respect, you bus-wheel; singer in a boy band is a few slots below the guy who unjams the photocopier in the EMI heirarchy; whereas the thought of anyone with any sense sitting seeing you pick up a prize - a prize - for your "work" and not shouting "Bumcrack" at the top of their lung power is frustrating.

The second big problem was the timing. Ironically, holding the awards a full twenty four hours before broadcast not only means they didn't have that late-afternoon rehearsal feel to them (Pink struggling to sing 'get the party started' while rush-hour hadn't yet got underway would have been wrong even if the sound hadn't have been so shite as to suggest that Edge Lane University had sent its sound engineering trainees to oversee the event, having first stuck sharp pencils through their eardrums), but also the excitement and tension of who was going to win what was sucked away by other shows.

Last year, kicking off after eight meant the News Shows Interested In That Sort of Thing had all gone home to bed, and by the time the awards made it to TV the 'who had won what' details were fuzzy enough to make it almost as if you didn't know. This time, the early kick-off meant that even John Craven's fucking Newsround was carrying results of the winners just moments before ITV1's expensive show started. So we knew who'd won what, heard the best bits of the speeches and knew that nothing unexpected was going to happen. Never did Buffy and Angel seem more appealing.

As for the awards themselves, it's starting to become increasingly obvious that although her heart is firmly fixed in the right place, Ms Dynamite doesn't quite have the quick wit needed for a spokesperson for the youth of today. Saturday's gaffe - instructing the largest peace demo in British history to "keep fighting" and then trying to salvage the moment by adding ", peacefully" - had been largely ignored. But now we have to file it next to her descrpition of that very shite reworking of Faith (Pre-publicity had promised a duet with George Michael; instead we got a glorified video karaoke moment) as "it is an anti-war song, but not in a negative way." Right. Under these circumstances, it's clear why Her People were busily hassling the backstage media troops, as reported on Liquid News - most notably insisting that Ms Dynamite wouldn't take any questions about why she'd thanked "her husband" on stage. Which is a pity, as without allowing a swift clearing-up of that one, they'll allow the feeling to grow that maybe she's been forced to pretend she's a single sassy gal about town when really she's happily and cosily married in a bid to make her image a bit more street. Which we're sure isn't the case at all, is it?

BBC Breakfast's report suggested that the evening had been all about "urban" - "even Kylie" they suggested. Now, obviously this was just an excuse to get her arse on the screen - and anything that forces Natasha Kaplinsky's strange origami head off the air is to be welcomed - but The Fantastically White Kylie and the Fantastically White Justin doing a even more de-sassed cover of Rapture (a fine song, but the first visible attempt of White America to draw the teeth of rap by giving it a friendly face)? It was about as 'urban' as an outward bound course run by the Wurzels.

Interestingly, is still plugging the event as happening sometime in the future, which shows just how on the ball the coverage is; again, scooped by Newsround.

So, who did we have?

British male solo artist: Robbie Williams
British female solo artist: Ms Dynamite
British album: Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
British group: Coldplay
British single: Liberty X, Just A Little
British urban act: Ms Dynamite
British dance act: Sugababes
British breakthrough artist: Will Young
Pop act: Blue
International male solo artist: Eminem
International female solo artist: Pink
International album: Eminem, The Eminem Show
International group: Red Hot Chili Peppers
International breakthrough artist: Norah Jones
Outstanding contribution to music: Tom Jones

It's hard to know what the most dispiriting award is here - I'd guess Sugababes being treated as if they were a proper dance act, but Robbie Williams' award once again shows how unchallenging the British Music Industry has become. Ironically, considering two of its rivals were merely (very weak) cover versions, probably the best of a bad bunch award was for Liberty X's single. Okay, it wasn't by a country mile the best thing released last year, but the success of Liberty X and absence of Girls Aloud and Hear'say does show that the judges of Popstars - a cross section, don't forget, of music biz types - really don't know how to spot a winner in a locked room.

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