Well you’ll have seen the ceremony by now of course, so here are some more of my “fascinating” facts…
Recognising the “Rest of the World”
Apart from one award in 1983, the BRITs didn’t fully separate Britain from the rest of the world until 1986, when Huey Lewis & the News received the first Best International Artist award. In 1989, Michael Jackson and Tracy Chapman were named the first Best International Solo Artists, but then in 1990, 1992, and 1993, there was only space for one combined Best International Solo Artist award, won by Neneh Cherry, Prince, and Prince respectively.
The International Breakthrough Artist (or Best International Newcomer) first turned up in 1988, and was won by Terence Trent D’Arby. The Best International Album award didn’t arrive until 2002, and the first winner was Kylie Minogue for Fever, although Michael Jackson had already won the Best Album award for Thriller in 1984.
BRIT Awards Luvvies
Some people just seem to walk the awards, and get nominated almost annually for the same award. Some of them even seem to win it annually. Here’s a quick selection:
- Robbie Williams – won British Male Solo Artist in 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2003, as well as a whole heap of other stuff and nominations in the same category in 1998, 2006, and 2010. Phil Collins had been his predecessor for that award, winning in 1986, 1989, and 1990 with further nominations in 1992 and 1993.
- Annie Lennox – astoundingly, won British Female Solo Artist in 1984, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, and 1996, plus a nomination in 2004, making her the most successful artist to win any single award. Lisa Stansfield (one win in 1991 but nominations in 1992, 1993, 1995, and 1998) and Alison Moyet (wins in 1985 and 1988) also tried to topple her crown but failed. PJ Harvey tried her hardest with nominations in 1994, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2008, but failed to win any of them.
- Jamiroquai – managed a Best Dance Act nomination 6 out of the 11 times it was awarded despite not even really being a dance act.
- Robbie Williams again – won Best British Single with Take That in 1993, 1994, and 1996, and then solo in 1999, 2000, and 2001. And then again with Take That in 2007 and 2008, giving him a shelf full of eight awards in this category. He also got a good set of Best Video awards to go on the shelf below.
- You might think there would be enough International Male Solo Artists for a bit of variety, but apparently not. Prince won in 1992, 1993, 1995, and 1996 (the last time as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, and then he was nominated as The Artist in 1997 before he ran out of silly names). Then Beck took over, winning in 1997, 1999, and 2000 and being nominated in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2009. Eminem won in 2001, 2003, and 2005, with two further nominations. Most recently, Kanye West won in 2006, 2008, and 2009. In the International Female Solo Artist category, things are nearly as repetitive, with multiple wins for Björk, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, and Rihanna. Alicia Keys has taken six nominations but no wins as yet.
- U2 – won International Group in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1998, and 2001, with further nominations basically every year: 1992, 1993, 1994, 2005, and 2006. While they were taking a break, R.E.M. stepped in in 1992, 1993, and 1995 plus nominations in 1997, 1999, and 2000, before being replaced by Foo Fighters for 2008 and 2012 after unsuccessful nominations in 1996 and 2003.
- Finally, the Outstanding Contribution is normally pretty free of repetition, right? Nope. The Beatles shared the award in 1977. Then John Lennon grabbed it posthumously in 1982. Then they came back again for it as a group in 1983. George Martin got it in 1984. Finally, Paul McCartney broke two decades of silence by grabbing it in 2008. The other people who think it’s OK to take it home more than once are Elton John and Queen.
Best Soundtrack or Original Cast Recording
It’s a bit of a shame that this award hasn’t been given since 2001. For sixteen years, it was handed out to the likes of Top Gun, Phantom of the Opera, Batman (in 1990 and 1996), Twin Peaks, Trainspotting, and American Beauty.
But soundtracks are a key part of music, so I think it is a shame that they don’t do this one any more…
Back from the Dead
From 1990 to 1998, there was a Best Producer award. Then from 1999 to 2010, there wasn’t. But now it’s back, and rightfully so. Previous winners include Dave Stewart out of Eurythmics, Trevor Horn, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno (twice), Nellee Hooper, and Youth.
The people behind the music generally remain forgotten by the BRITs. The first ever Outstanding Contribution award in 1977 was shared between The Beatles and EMI boss LG Wood. In 2011 Tony Visconti was given a rare special award for Innovation in Production. But the biggest surprise for me was the same year, and was largely forgotten about by the mainstream media, maybe because they didn’t know who he was. But the Outstanding Contribution award in 2011 was quite rightly given to Daniel Miller.
Also back from the dead is the Best Live Act award, won by U2 in 1993, Spice Girls (as Best Selling British Live Act) in 2000, and then Muse, Kaiser Chiefs, Muse again, Take That, and Iron Maiden from 2005 to 2009, before inexplicably being axed again just as live music exploded in popularity.
Special Awards and Long Forgotten Awards
Occasionally, the BRITs decide to give an award to somebody just because they want to. Some of them are for charity deeds, or just generally for selling pretty well. Here’s a summary:
- 1994 – Special Sales Award – Meat Loaf
- 1996 – Freddie Mercury Award – Help! Project
- 1996 – Artist of a Generation – Michael Jackson
- 1998 – Freddie Mercury Award – Elton John
- 1999 – Freddie Mercury Award – Jubilee 2000
- 2005 – BRITs 25 – The Best Song Award – Robbie Williams – Angels
- 2010 – BRITs Hits 30 – Spice Girls – Wannabe / Who Do You Think You Are
- 2010 – BRITs Album of 30 Years – Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory
- 2011 – Innovation in Production – Tony Visconti
But to me a really fascinating moment was when I discovered by accident that there had once been a Best Comedy Recording award at the BRITs. I’m still not clear how long it went on for, or who most of the winners were, as it was largely undocumented, but I’d love to see that one come back.
Awards Week will continue tomorrow with something else that I make up on the spot.
Incidentally, apologies about some of the missing videos on recent posts – the BRITs official website got remodelled after I’d written the pieces, and some of the YouTube ones got removed. Never mind…
Edit: this post originally said the first international award was in 1986 – in fact there was one in 1983.