The Ultimate Guide to the BRIT Awards

This year’s BRIT Awards will be the 39th ever, and due to the gap between the first and second, it’s over forty years since the first ceremony was held in October 1977. There’s no particular reason for a celebration, but let’s take a moment anyway to look back at the previous 38 ceremonies and the history of the awards!

Artists they love

We calculated the top twenty artists at the BRITs just last year, and – spoiler alert – the top five British acts, in ascending order, were Annie LennoxTake ThatAdeleColdplay, and Robbie Williams. Comparison with the top-selling British acts of all time puts Annie Lennox and Take That nowhere on the list, Adele and Coldplay joint fourteenth alongside others, and Robbie Williams joint twenty-fifth.

Or you could compare with the top sixty singles acts of all timeAnnie Lennox still doesn’t make it, Take That are fifteenth, Adele is a bit too recent for the list, Coldplay are sixtieth, and Robbie Williams is twenty-second.

The BRIT Awards seem to have always struggled with the Female Solo Artist categories, obsessing for years on end over Annie LennoxAlison Moyet, Adele, and (internationally) Björk.

Artists they hate

Contemporary artists who haven’t done quite so well based on those lists include Elton JohnQueen, and David Bowie, who came 15th, off the chart, and 11th respectively, although much of their heyday would have been in the 1970s, and OasisSpice Girls, and George Michael, who have never quite made the cut, appearing 10th, 17th, and somewhere just off the list respectively.

Famously, Radiohead have never won anything despite plenty of nominations, and Jamiroquai also inexplicably got lots of nominations but sanity prevailed on the night, and they never quite won.

Nominated in the wrong category

U2 seem to have caused a bit of confusion about whether they were British or International, having been nominated for awards in both. Solo artists have got a bit confused at times as well, with Roland Gift of Fine Young Cannibals receiving a solo nomination in 1990, despite not releasing anything on his own for another decade. Fortunately, his group returned their awards after a particularly vomit-inducing appearance from Margaret Thatcher as part of the ceremony. Mick Hucknall also seems to have caused some confusion in 1997 about whether he was a solo act or group, as did.

Trouble at the top

Plenty of drama happens on and off stage at the awards, most of which is well-documented. A new one that I hadn’t come across previously was that somewhat amusingly, Rick Astley apparently couldn’t quite make it up to the stage in time, so wasn’t able to accept his own award.

There have been some very odd choices of presenters – after Michael Aspel presented the first, and Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood were never invited back, a lot of odd people were, including Tim RiceNoel EdmondsSimon Bates, and Russell BrandAnt & Dec have presented three times (2001, 2015, and 2016), Chris Evans has done four (1995, 1996, 2005, and 2006), and astonishingly James Corden

Nobody cares any more

The ceremony has had its ups and downs (Sam Fox, perhaps not unfairly, apparently blames everyone but herself for the 1989 event). Search online, and there are plenty of good articles about the better and worse moments in its history – this one is one of the better researched.

But in its heyday, the BRIT Awards ceremony was event TV, with a sixth of the country watching, but these days, barely five million people can be bothered tuning in.

Stay tuned for more coverage on the run-up to the 2018 BRIT Awards. There’s plenty of coverage on this blog from previous years, but one place to start might be this post from a couple of years ago.

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The BRIT Awards 2015

Closing Awards Week for this year (apart from a brief chart tomorrow) is our round-up of this year’s BRIT Award ceremony. The event took place on Wednesday night (the 25th) at the O2 Arena in London, and the hosts were Ant & Dec, for the first time since 2001.

Of course, the most exciting thing that happened was when Madonna fell down three stairs, but she bravely soldiered on, through a pretty lacklustre song. And Kanye West was the victim of a bit of censorship, while some of his naughty words escaped the censors, but I’m not entirely clear why we should care about either of these facts.

Anyway, here are the winners of the 2015 BRIT Awards. The first two awards were announced before the actual ceremony…

Critics’ Choice Award

Always an influential award, handed out a couple of months before the big night. Nominees:

  • James Bay
  • George The Poet
  • Years & Years

Winner: James Bay

British Producer

In association with The MPG Awards. Nominees:

  • Paul Epworth
  • Flood
  • Alison Goldfrapp & Will Gregory
  • Jake Gosling

Winner: Paul Epworth

British Male Solo Artist

Presented by Rita Ora and Orlando Bloom. The nominees:

  • Damon Albarn
  • George Ezra
  • Paolo Nutini
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Sam Smith

Winner: Ed Sheeran.

British Group

Presented by Jimmy Page. The nominees:

  • Alt-J
  • Clean Bandit
  • Coldplay
  • One Direction
  • Royal Blood

Winner: Royal Blood

International Female Solo Artist

Presented by Lewis Hamilton and Ellie Goulding. Nominees:

  • Beyoncé
  • Lana del Rey
  • Sia
  • St. Vincent
  • Taylor Swift

Winner: Taylor Swift

British Female Solo Artist

Presented by Mark Ronson. Nominees:

  • Lily Allen
  • Paloma Faith
  • FKA twigs
  • Ella Henderson
  • Jessie Ware

Winner: Paloma Faith, who went on forever about floors for some reason

Global Success Award

The British artist whose global releases sold the most outside the UK. Presented by Kim Kardashian-West. What’s up, London?

Winner: Sam Smith

International Male Solo Artist

Presented by Cara Delevigne. Nominees:

  • Beck
  • Hozier
  • John Legend
  • Jack White
  • Pharrell Williams

Winner: Pharrell Williams

British Single

Presented by Lisa Snowden and Lionel Richie. Nominees:

  • Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne – Rather Be
  • Duke Dumont feat. Jax Jones – I Got U
  • George Ezra – Budapest
  • Calvin Harris – Summer
  • Ella Henderson – Ghost
  • Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
  • Route 94 feat. Jess Glynne – My Love
  • Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
  • Sigma – Nobody to Love
  • Sam Smith – Stay with Me

Winner: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars

International Group

Presented by John Bishop. Nominees:

  • The Black Keys
  • First Aid Kit
  • Foo Fighters
  • 5 Seconds of Summer
  • The War on Drugs

Winner: Foo Fighters

British Breakthrough Act

Presented by Fearne Cotton and Charli XCX. Nominees:

  • Chvrches
  • FKA twigs
  • George Ezra
  • Royal Blood
  • Sam Smith

Winner: Sam Smith

British Artist Video of the Year

Yes, that’s the confusing name for the Best Video award now. Voted for using tweets, which is novel. They started with the ten most viewed videos on YouTube, apparently:

  • Duke Dumont feat. Jax Jones – I Got U
  • Calvin Harris – Summer
  • One Direction – You and I
  • Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down
  • Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
  • Route 94 feat. Jess Glynne – My Love
  • Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
  • Sigma – Nobody to Love
  • Sam Smith – Stay with Me
  • Charli XCX – Boom Clap

The final shortlist of five, presented by the tiny Jimmy Carr and the enormous

  • Calvin Harris – Summer
  • One Direction – You and I
  • Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
  • Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
  • Sam Smith – Stay with Me

Winner: One Direction, accepted by Simon Cowell

MasterCard British Album

The award that, in the absence of an Outstanding Contribution award, is considered the biggie. Supported by The Sun’s Bizarre column. Presented by Russell Crowe from off of Neighbours.

  • Alt-J – This is All Yours
  • George Ezra – Wanted on Voyage
  • Royal Blood – Royal Blood
  • Ed Sheeran – X
  • Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour

Winner: Ed Sheeran

Performances

  • Taylor Swift – Blank Space
  • Sam Smith – Lay Me Down
  • Royal Blood – Figure it Out
  • Ed Sheeran – Bloodstream
  • Kanye West – All Day
  • Take That – Let in the Sun
  • George Ezra – Budapest
  • Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This
  • Madonna – Living for Love

The BRIT Awards 2001

On 26th February 2001, the presenters Ant and Dec took over to present the BRIT Awards at Earls Court in London.

This post is part of a series about the history of the BRIT Awards. You can read about the 2000 ceremony here, and the 2002 ceremony in a couple of days’ time.

Best British Album

Presented by Samuel L. Jackson. Nominees:

  • Coldplay – Parachutes
  • Craig David – Born to Do it
  • David Gray – Lost Songs
  • Radiohead – Kid A
  • Robbie Williams – Sing When You’re Winning

Winner: Coldplay

Best British Dance Act

Presented by Audley Harrison and Denise Lewis. Nominees:

  • Artful Dodger
  • Craig David
  • Fatboy Slim
  • Moloko
  • Sonique

Winner: Fatboy Slim

Best British Female

Presented by Jamie Oliver and, for some reason, his wife. Nominees:

  • Dido
  • PJ Harvey
  • Jamelia
  • Sade
  • Sonique

Winner: Sonique

Best British Group

Presented by Fay Ripley. Nominees:

  • All Saints
  • Coldplay
  • Moloko
  • Radiohead
  • Toploader

Winner: Coldplay

Best British Male

Presented by Geri Halliwell. Nominees:

  • Badly Drawn Boy
  • Craig David
  • Fatboy Slim
  • David Gray
  • Robbie Williams

Winner: Robbie Williams

Best British Newcomer

Voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1. Again, the complex voting system of the previous year was reused:

Best Pop Newcomer:

  • A1
  • Atomic Kitten
  • Richard Blackwood
  • Lolly
  • Point Break

Best Dance Newcomer:

  • Artful Dodger
  • Chicane
  • Oxide and Neutrino
  • Shaft
  • Sonique

Best R&B / Urban Newcomer:

  • Architechs
  • MJ Cole
  • Craig David
  • DJ Luck and MC Neat
  • Sweet Female Attitude

Best Indie / Rock Newcomer:

  • Badly Drawn Boy
  • Coldplay
  • Death in Vegas
  • Muse
  • Toploader

Of these, the winner of each category and the most voted for act overall were carried through to the list of final nominees. The award was presented by Sarah Cox and Pete Tong. We continue.

  • A1
  • Artful Dodger
  • Coldplay
  • Craig David
  • Toploader

Winner: A1

Best British Single

Voted for by listeners of independent radio. Presented by David Ginola and Joely Richardson. Nominees:

  • All Saints – Pure Shores
  • Coldplay – Yellow
  • Craig David – 7 Days
  • David Gray – Babylon
  • Moloko – The Time is Now
  • Sonique – It Feels So Good
  • Spiller – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)
  • Sugababes – Overload
  • Toploader – Dancing in the Moonlight
  • Robbie Williams – Rock DJ

Winner: Robbie Williams

Best British Video

Voted for by viewers of VH-1. Presented by Jane Horrocks and Graham Norton. Nominees:

  • All Saints – Pure Shores
  • Coldplay – Yellow
  • Craig David – 7 Days
  • Jamelia – Money
  • Moloko – The Time is Now
  • Sonique – It Feels So Good
  • Texas – In Demand
  • Toploader – Dancing in the Moonlight
  • Travis – Coming Around
  • Robbie Williams – Rock DJ

Winner: Robbie Williams

Best International Female

Presented by Donny Osmond from The Osmonds and Helena Christensen. Nominees:

  • Madonna
  • Kylie Minogue
  • Pink
  • Jill Scott
  • Britney Spears

Winner: Madonna

Best International Group

Presented by Kylie Minogue and Huey Morgan from Fun Lovin’ Criminals. Nominees:

  • The Corrs
  • Santana
  • Savage Garden
  • U2
  • Westlife

Winner: U2

Best International Male

Presented by Elton John. Nominees:

  • Eminem
  • Wyclef Jean
  • Ronan Keating
  • Ricky Martin
  • Sisqo

Winner: Eminem

Best International Newcomer

Presented by Hear’Say. Nominees:

  • Kelis
  • Lene Marlin
  • Pink
  • Jill Scott
  • Westlife

Winner: Kelis

Best Pop Act

Voted for by readers of The Sun. Presented by Cat Deeley. Nominees:

  • Ronan Keating
  • S Club 7
  • Britney Spears
  • Steps
  • Westlife

Winner: Westlife

Best Soundtrack / Cast Recording

In its infinite wisdom, Wikipedia gives an incorrect listing of nominees:

  • Air – The Virgin Suicides
  • Various Artists – American Beauty
  • Various Artists – The Beach
  • Various Artists – Billy Elliot
  • Various Artists – Little Voice

My records from 2001 don’t have The Beach or Little Voice, whereas the BRITs website archive gives the correct listing as:

  • Air – The Virgin Suicides
  • Björk – Dancer in the Dark
  • Various Artists – American Beauty
  • Various Artists – The Beach
  • Various Artists – Billy Elliot
  • Various Artists – Shaft

Winner: American Beauty

Outstanding Contribution

Presented by Noel Gallagher from Oasis.

Winner: U2

Performances

Further Reading / Viewing

Edit, 6 Aug 2018 – removed U2 performance video which no longer works.

Countdown to Eurovision – Love City Groove

Britain has an odd relationship with the Eurovision Song Contest. We hate the politics of it all, but we vote just as politically as everyone else. Somehow we think we’re better than it all, but we still want to win. We laugh at how cheesy everybody else’s entries are, and then we submit total rubbish ourselves.

1995 was a case in point. Someone decided that Britain needed to update the song contest by putting in rubbish pop/rap tracks, and so they put together a group called Love City Groove to perform a track called, um, Love City Groove. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t great, although it actually did pretty well, coming in seventh place.

The band’s creator Stephen Rudden went on to work on U Krazy Katz for PJ & Duncan (Ant & Dec – remember them?); tried again for Eurovision a couple of years later; and did some other bits and bobs, and hasn’t done a huge amount in the public eye since. To remind ourselves of just how bad it was, here it is in its full glory: