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 Lennox, Take That, Adele, Coldplay, 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 time. Annie 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 Lennox, Alison Moyet, Adele, and (internationally) Björk.
Artists they hate
Contemporary artists who haven’t done quite so well based on those lists include Elton John, Queen, and David Bowie, who came 15th, off the chart, and 11th respectively, although much of their heyday would have been in the 1970s, and Oasis, Spice 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 Rice, Noel Edmonds, Simon Bates, and Russell Brand. Ant & 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.