Scrap the bookies, scrap album sales; on basic critical grounds – or perhaps even moral grounds – who should win the BRITs? Impact writers take a rummage through this year’s categories to pick out who deserves to win.
Out of the five nominees there are three distinct categories. There are the write-offs, the good shouts, and the clear winner. One Direction’s ‘You and I’ fits into the first category. This video seemed rather aimless, and way too soppy. ‘Summer’, ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and ‘Stay With Me’ all belong in the “good shout” category. All three videos had a good feel to them, with Ed Sheeran’s being the standout. The clear winner had to be, of course, Mark Ronson’s ‘UpTown Funk’. By far the most fun video to watch, listen to, and even have a little boogie along to, it takes you to the Utopian world many have dreamed of, where it’s hip to dance in the street a la Michael Jackson, and any video that does that is an absolute winner.
Best International Female is undoubtedly one of the most impressive selection of nominees, but if the BRIT award for best international female artist was going to the lady who had the best 2014,it should be St. Vincent clinching the prize. Her self-titled album was released only one week after last year’s BRIT awards ceremony and since then she’s received critical acclaim with a dramatic increase in popularity to accompany it. ‘Digital Witness’ was named by NME as the best track of 2014, a surprise to some, but in doing so it crowned St. Vincent as one of the new indie queens in popular music. The album tracks are unlike anything out there currently, incorporating baroque and indie pop along with the rockier and electronic edges. Even if purely for originality’s sake (which the BRIT awards needs to recognise so much more) 2015 should be this kooky and incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist’s year.
International Male Solo Artist is a very strong category this year with it containing an Oscar winner, and three previous nominees for album of the year at the Grammys, with one of them having won the award. But it’s Beck and Jack White who come out as front runners after both releasing the highly successful Morning Phase and Lazaretto last year. Pharrel and John Legend have been rather quiet with only the singles ‘Happy’ and ‘All of Me’ while Hozier is only just on the cusp of becoming a household name along with only having released limited material. It’s Beck that stands firmly on top; having arguably created the best piece of work in his career last year, not to mention his success at the Grammys earlier this month.
Uptown Funk has created an epidemic. It has spread from our radios, into our heads and appears to be incurable. The symptoms include an immediate sense of happiness, uncontrollable dancing and sporadically shrieking “Don’t believe me, just watch”. If you experience any of these symptoms, go onto the Brits website immediately and vote for Ronson’s track to win ‘British Single’. We can’t imagine any other single could battle for the title.
British Group is a particularly tough category this year. Alt – J will be competing with the like of Coldplay, Royal Blood and One Direction. The problem is that all the contestants have fanatic fan bases backing them up, whether it be insane 16 year old girls or NME devotees. Alt-J however, deserve to take home this prize because their latest album This Is All Yours is sensational. The album is different (a tall task) and experimental (a risky task). What’s more they’ve worked tirelessly to promote their music, sitting on tonnes of festival lineups and raking up an extensive tour list. You get our vote Alt-J.
British Solo Artist
While Sam Smith did not have enough hands to hold all of his Grammy Awards this year, in this writer’s humble opinion, the ‘Best British Solo Artist’ award does not go to him. Neither does it go to Paolo Nutini, Damon Albarn or George Ezra, but to Ed Sheeran. His sophomore album X was truly one of the best albums of 2014, and while the others are all good artists in their own right, I feel that Ed Sheeran stands out from the pack with the tremendous vocal range, strong songwriting and the emotional range that his songs contain. ‘Bloodstream’ and ‘Afire Love’ are two great examples of the aforementioned qualities, and encapsulate why he should be crowned ‘Best British Solo Artist’.
British Breakthrough Artist
While artistically the year has not been great for new British talent, it most certainty has been for global popularity. The likes of Sam Smith and George Ezra have charmed the U.S. especially with heartfelt balladry and genuinely likeable personalities (how novel!) while Royal Blood caused a brief flurry of excitement around the reassurance of a heavier rock record. Yet, artistically speaking, the glowing standout is FKA Twigs. A woman who absolutely understands the impact of image: her performances are ultra-modern artistry and her sound is from the future. Her music videos too are disturbing, sensual and creative in extremis. She was one of the best acts of 2014 full stop – and of course she won’t win, but she absolutely should.
Liam Inscoe Jones
Having to take all the groups of the world into account will, inevitably, result in a strong category. In their respective heydays both the Black Keys and the Foo Fighters once held imperial dominance over the world of Rock. Yet 2014 opened the doors for new heavyweights; both First Aid Kit and The War on Drugs could easily claim it as ‘their year’. Stay Gold perfected the mature folk style, bringing a bigger sound than any of First Aid Kit’s previous releases, but it was The War On Drugs’ Lost in the Dream which became the defining record of the year. Just like First Aid Kit, the release brought unprecedented levels of commercial success for the band. Yet for The War on Drugs their success went above and beyond what anyone could have expected, shining a light on them and revealing themselves to the international music community. At this point in time, it would seem out of order for The War on Drugs not to win the award.
After being nominated three times in this category, in 2011, 2013 and 2015, it feels like Paloma deserves to finally win Best British Female this year. This year would seem particularly appropriate considering the huge commercial success she’s had in 2014, A Perfect Contradiction having gone two times platinum, a string of successful singles including ‘Can’t Rely On You’ and ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’, not to mention the chart-topping number ones ‘Sigma’ and ‘Changing’. Most importantly, A Perfect Contradiction is made from strong material, blending soul-pop with disco influences to produce pop music with substance. Along with a thrilling live reputation, Paloma Faith has the voice and the songs to win.
Although the dark horse of this category, especially with fierce competition from the likes of popular sensations Royal Blood and Sam Smith, Alt-J nonetheless deserve credit for producing a fuller, more challenging LP than anyone else nominated this year. Building on the success of their 2012 debut, the sounds of This Is All Yours observed a wider variety of genres and influences than already experimented with on An Awesome Wave, exemplified no more clearly than in the upbeat, riff-led single ‘Left Hand Free’. Defined as anything from ‘folktronica’ to ‘dub-pop’, their creativity and experimental approach to song-writing sets them apart from their fellow nominees and so should earn them a BRIT, especially after three nominations in 2012 which saw the efforts of An Awesome Wave overcome by Coldplay, Adele and Ed Sheeran. Although it’s unlikely that Ed can trump them again, considering the more recent breakthrough success of Sam Smith, it’s surely time for Alt-J to be recognised by the BRITS.
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