Music Features

The BRIT Awards 2019: Six Talking Points

The prestigious BRIT music awards took place last Wednesday (20 February), showcasing live performances from the likes of The 1975, George Ezra, and P!nk; but what can we learn from this year's ceremony?

On 20 February 2019, the 39th edition of the Brit Awards took place. Since its conception, the Brits have been a heavyweight in the awards calendar. But in recent years accusations have piled up, claiming that the ceremony is nothing but an extravagant shindig for some of the industry’s illustrious figures, instead of being a celebration of the year’s music.

Hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, 2019’s ceremony was a surprisingly enjoyable affair, with performances from the likes of George Ezra, Little Mix, The 1975 and P!nk amongst others. On the night, The 1975 and Calvin Harris came out as the big winners, coming home with two awards each specifically designed by legendary architect Sir David Adjaye. With a host of action taking place, here are the biggest talking points we can take away from the night.

1. The 1975 have the world at their feet

It was the perfect night for Matty Healy and co. who picked up the Best British Group alongside the prestigious British Album of the Year for their sensational third record A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. Collecting the award for Best British Group, the band used the opportunity to address misogyny in the music industry, an ever-prevalent issue given current accusations against singer-songwriter Ryan Adams. Later on in the night, the four-piece delivered a surreal yet spectacular performance of ‘Sincerity Is Scary’, featuring Matty Healy on a treadmill wearing a rabbit hat amidst a New York backdrop. With another album on the way before their eagerly anticipated headline set at Reading and Leeds festival, the future is bright for The 1975.

2. Award winners are perhaps not as shocked as they first seem

There has always been doubt as to whether the recipients of awards are tipped off before the ceremony and this year’s ceremony has seemingly confirmed that. An hour before the ceremony took place, a UKTV Play advert appeared to have crowned The 1975 winners of Best British Group and British Album of Year, sparking widespread claims that the recipients are already aware. Whilst many have thought that has been the case for some time, it does make acceptance speeches a tad disingenuous, with artists appearing astounded when announced as winners. Although, anyone seeing Tom Walker’s beautiful acceptance speech would seriously hope his surprise wasn’t staged.

“the Brits managed to find someone with great humour and sharp wit”

3. The Brits have found a host who is actually good

There has been some awards ceremony hosts in the recent past, for example Neil Patrick Harris at the Oscars in 2015 and Joanna Lumley at the BAFTA’s earlier this year. However, with Jack Whitehall, the Brits managed to find someone with great humour and sharp wit who engaged both the television audience and the O2 Arena. His onstage prose was delivered with impeccable timing, and despite an awkward interview with Little Mix, there was never an awkward moment. Here were some of his standout lines:

[Introducing Little Mix]: Girl bands tend to crash harder than Prince Phillip on a country drive!

[Introducing Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge to present an award]: Daniel Sturridge, a Premier League runner-up in waiting.

[On band reunions]: There have been so many groups getting back together. First the Spice Girls, then Bros and now Westlife. Suddenly a hard border with Northern Ireland doesn’t sound so bad.

“the winners of the three international awards didn’t even show up”

4. Internationally, the Brits needs to adapt

With an array of artists boycotting the Grammy’s (Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Drake), the Brits had the perfect opportunity to poach some international names for themselves. Yet there was a noticeable lack of international presence at the ceremony, so much so that the winners of the three international awards didn’t even show up to collect them, instead offering limp video messages that failed to project any sincere gratitude. For an awards ceremony, surprisingly little attention was given to international awards. A real issue needs to be addressed by organisers regarding this issue. Either they need to scrap the international awards, or try to give them as equal a platform as the other awards, inviting more international nominees to perform, giving an incentive for them to show up.

5. Award performances are getting boring

This year’s ceremony offered an array of uninspiring live performances. Gone are the days when the Brit awards allowed artists of all genres to collaborate with each other, where Florence & The Machine performed with Dizzee Rascal, for example, and where Kendrick Lamar took to the stage with Imagine Dragons. 2019’s ceremony saw George Ezra, Jorja Smith and Little Mix all performing predictable tracks, whilst Jess Glynne and H.E.R. combined for a half-hearted collaboration. Calvin Harris’s ‘supergroup’ of Dua Lipa, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, and Sam Smith provided some much needed originality, but moving forward there needs to be more creativity in the live performances.

6. There still lies some unpredictability in the Brits

Whilst 2019’s ceremony was surprisingly enjoyable, if a bit tame, there were still some downright confusing moments. For a ceremony celebrating music, the decision to allow Hugh Jackman to open the show was a slap in the face for musicians spending their lives trying to get those opportunities. Choosing footballer Daniel Sturridge to present a music award was equally confusing, as was Ed Sheeran winning the Global Success Award despite not releasing music last year. P!nk being given the Outstanding Contribution to Music award raised many eyebrows as well. An inspiring singer and mesmerising performer, P!nk is a fantastic pop artist, yet for an award that has only been given to a select amount of musicians, including Fleetwood Mac and Sir Elton John, her presence on the recipients list is certainly intriguing.

“British music is in as strong a position as ever”

As another Brits passes by, British music is in as strong a position as ever. The rising presence of British artists in the charts and on festival bills highlights strength in depth throughout all genres, a trend that will hopefully continue for the rest of 2019.

Ben Standring

Featured Image courtesy of Nic Redhead via Flickr.

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