BRIT Awards 2019

Well, after a particularly dull set of nominees, the 2019 BRITs turned out to be somewhat interesting after all. The 39th edition of the ceremony took place last week on 20th February at the O2 Arena in London, where they were hosted again by Jack Whitehall.

Mastercard British Album of the Year

  • Anne-Marie – Speak Your Mind
  • George Ezra – Staying at Tamara’s
  • Florence + The Machine – High as Hope
  • The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
  • Jorja Smith – Lost & Found

Winner: The 1975

Famously, UKTV Play accidentally played an advert for “double award winners” The 1975 before the event had actually started, replacing it later with the correct “nominees” advert – as BBC News said:

It’s not clear whether the band had been made aware of what their marketing department knew – but it shone an awkward spotlight on every tearful “this is so unexpected” speech we’ve seen this awards season.

BBC News

Which is about as exciting as things got, so, as is sometimes the case, the biggest drama of the night didn’t actually take place on stage.

Oh, and let’s all agree to overlook the fact that the same article also rather stupidly takes the opportunity to wonder why so little overseas talent made it to this event which is supposed to celebrate the strength of British music (err… what are the awards called, again?)

British Single of the Year

  • Anne-Marie – 2002
  • Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss
  • Clean Bandit feat. Demi Lovato – Solo
  • Dua Lipa – IDGAF
  • George Ezra – Shotgun
  • Jess Glynne – I’ll Be There
  • Ramz – Barking
  • Rudimental feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen – These Days
  • Sigala and Paloma Faith – Lullaby
  • Tom Walker – Leave a Light On

Winner: Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa

British Video of the Year

  • Anne-Marie – 2002
  • Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss
  • Clean Bandit feat. Demi Lovato – Solo
  • Dua Lipa – IDGAF
  • Jax Jones feat. Ina Wroldsen – Breathe
  • Jonas Blue feat. Jack & Jack – Rise
  • Liam Payne and Rita Ora – For You
  • Little Mix feat. Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me
  • Rita Ora – Let You Love Me
  • Rudimental feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen – These Days

Winner: Little Mix feat. Nicki Minaj

British Male Solo Artist in association with YouTube Music

  • Aphex Twin
  • Craig David
  • George Ezra
  • Giggs
  • Sam Smith

Winner: George Ezra

British Female Solo Artist in association with YouTube Music

  • Lily Allen
  • Anne-Marie
  • Florence + The Machine
  • Jess Glynne
  • Jorja Smith

Winner: Jorja Smith

British Group

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Gorillaz
  • Little Mix
  • The 1975
  • Years and Years

Winner: The 1975

British Breakthrough Act

  • Idles
  • Mabel
  • Ella Mai
  • Jorja Smith
  • Tom Walker

Winner: Tom Walker

International Male Solo Artist

  • Drake
  • Eminem
  • Shawn Mendes
  • Travis Scott
  • Kamasi Washington

Winner: Drake

International Female Solo Artist

  • Camila Cabello
  • Cardi B
  • Christine and the Queens
  • Ariana Grande
  • Janelle Monáe

Winner: Ariana Grande

International Group

  • Brockhampton
  • The Carters
  • Chic
  • First Aid Kit
  • Twenty One Pilots

Winner: The Carters

Critics’ Choice Award

  • Lewis Capaldi
  • Sam Fender
  • Mahalia

Winner: Sam Fender

British Producer of the Year

Winner: Calvin Harris

Global Success Award

Winner: Ed Sheeran

Outstanding Contribution to Music

Winner: Pink

Great to see this award back at last, but Pink, of all people? Really?

Performances

This year’s performances were as follows:

  • Hugh Jackman – The Greatest Show
  • George Ezra & Hot 8 Brass Band – Shotgun
  • Little Mix & Ms Banks – Woman Like Me
  • Jorja Smith – Don’t Watch Me Cry
  • Calvin Harris, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Sam Smith & Dua Lipa – Giant, Promises & One Kiss
  • Jess Glynne & H.E.R. – Thursday
  • The 1975 – Sincerity is Scary
  • Pink & Dan Smith – Walk Me Home, Just Like Fire, Just Give Me a Reason, Try, and What About Us

Further Reading

Chart for stowaways – 2 February 2019

Here’s the latest singles chart:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Flying Totems
  2. Ladytron – Far from Home
  3. The Beloved – It’s Alright Now
  4. The Radiophonic Workshop – Arrival Home
  5. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom
  6. Gesaffelstein feat. The Weeknd – Lost In The Fire
  7. Ladytron – The Animals
  8. David Bowie – Breaking Glass
  9. Lady Gaga – Judas
  10. The Beloved – The Sun Rising

Grammy Awards 2019

Every year, the Grammy Awards land, with their multitude of absurdly specific categories, and every year, I struggle to pull together a post about some of the highlights. Here’s this year’s attempt!

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

The winner was Willie Nelson, for My Way, but he beat Seal‘s Standards. Apparently “pop” means something different at the Grammy Awards to the rest of the world.

Best Dance Recording

Above and Beyond were nominated for Northern Soul, with Richard Bedford, but they lost to Silk City and Dua Lipa and Diplo and Mark Ronson, probably mainly just by virtue of the length of their artist credit.

Best Dance/Electronic Album

As the description says, “for vocal or instrumental albums. Albums only.” I wonder whether EPs count? Anyway, Justice won for Woman Worldwide, beating stiff competition from Jon Hopkins‘s Singularity and a few others that I’ve never heard of.

Totally Gaga

Finally, because I’m clearly short of things to comment on this year, it was interesting to see just how good a year Lady Gaga has had at the Grammy Awards, with nominations for Record of the Year, and Song of the Year, and wins for Best Pop Solo Performance (Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’)), Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (Shallow, with Bradley Cooper), and Best Song Written for Visual Media (same).

So well done to all of them, anyway. Hopefully they’re excited.

The Human League – Reproduction

This month marks the fortieth anniversary of The Human League‘s groundbreaking debut album Reproduction. It would be difficult to underestimate the importance of this release, and yet at the time of its release, it was largely overlooked – it didn’t even hit the charts until its 1981 reissue, and history has not been especially kind to it either.

It opens with Almost Medieval, with a typically daft early Phil Oakey vocal which casts modern-day imagery against things from the olden days. It’s true, as he says, that there wasn’t a speed limit for stagecoaches, but it’s also true that they didn’t turn up until the thirteenth century, which makes them very late medieval. This is, though, early Human League at their best – beautifully played electronics with brilliantly daft vocals.

As the much later compilation The Golden Hour of the Future proved, The Human League had been actively making music for several years already by the time this album appeared, and sadly there’s little evidence of that era here. The polished version of Circus of Death that appears here is as close as we get, and it captures much of the experimental mood of those days. This was originally the b-side to Being Boiled, which sadly didn’t make it onto Reproduction, instead being remixed for the following year’s Travelogue.

The Path of Least Resistance follows, with some lovely experimental production – half of the sounds are hidden way over in the left channel at the beginning, but somehow it doesn’t grate too much. It lacks the catchy hooks that the first two tracks had, though, and so doesn’t quite inspire to the same degree.

Then comes Blind Youth, bringing in heavy glam styling, which might not have been particularly surprising in 1979, but in 2019 it seems to come out of nowhere. There’s something brilliantly unpolished about it – this is almost punk, just without the spitting and swearing.

The Word Before Last defies interpretation on every level. It’s nice to have a track that’s a little gentler than its predecessors, but I’ve no idea what it’s meant to be about. Anyway, the dystopian, oddly futuristic feel of the album continues.

Side A closes with the entirely brilliant Empire State Human, which was actually the only single from this album, although it didn’t actually hit the chart until the following year, when it was reissued and repackaged with Only After Dark from the second album. That’s a real shame, because this is a brilliant track, and makes a great single too, but the charts in 1979 were probably too busy with other things.

If Side A was a little odd, Side B is totally bizarre, showing us the weirder side of The Human League‘s early experimentation, much of which consisted of obscure or unusual cover versions. It opens with the sweetly soft, rippling Morale…, which builds into a very long, beautifully electronic cover version of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. It’s nice to hear the whole band pitching in on vocals at this point, anyway.

Once that’s done with, we get a lengthy medley of two tracks that nobody had heard yet anyway – Austerity and Girl One. Honestly, this is a bit of a mess – they had much better material in their vaults at this point, so it’s difficult to understand why they persevered with this pair.

But the album is already pretty much over at this point – all that remains is Zero as a Limit, still sonically interesting, but much less challenging as a listen than some of its predecessors, although the ever-evolving tempo is a little difficult to handle at times. It was hardly going to win many fans, though – it’s gentle and a pleasant album closer, but nothing particularly special.

So The Human League‘s debut is an interesting oddity – occasionally great, occasionally not so great, but always interesting to listen to. And it’s one of just a handful of artefacts of that brilliant era in the group’s early history – the time when three Yorkshiremen were messing around with synthesisers that sounded like motorbikes. Essential listening.

This album has been reissued a few times, but the 2003 remaster is probably the best mastered, and also coincidentally the most widely available.