Five More Fascinating BRIT Awards Facts

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 CherryPrince, 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 BjörkKylie MinogueMadonna, and RihannaAlicia 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 GunPhantom of the OperaBatman (in 1990 and 1996), Twin PeaksTrainspotting, 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 EurythmicsTrevor HornPeter GabrielBrian 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 MuseKaiser ChiefsMuse 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.

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The BRIT Awards 1989

Oh yes, 1989. The single most important year in the history of the BRITs. Broadcast live from London’s Royal Albert Hall, it’s the pop music event of the year. Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood famously presented for the first year that it was even called the BRIT Awards.

If you think that pairing a miniature Page Three model with an enormous Fleetwood Mac baldy might be a bad idea, you have little idea of the shambles which would follow. So disastrous was it, that the event wouldn’t be broadcast live for another decade. But on the plus side, we can watch the whole thing thanks to YouTube. So let’s sit back and enjoy the event of a lifetime in full. Part 1:

The show opens relatively poorly with Gloria Estefan, before the bizarrely paired hosts stumble on stage, eventually find their way to the microphones, and stumble their way through the show introduction.

Best British Single

Phil Collins arrives to put the hosts out of their misery, but disappointingly fails to kill either of them. Julian Lennon, although announced by the hosts, does not. Nominees:

  • Deacon Blue – Real Gone Kid
  • Fairground Attraction – Perfect
  • Robert Palmer – She Makes My Day
  • Tanita Tikaram – Twist In My Sobriety
  • Tom Jones & Art of Noise – Kiss

Cue some embarrassed filling by the hosts while the winners try to find the stage.

Winner: Fairground Attraction.

Best British Group

Presented by the fabulous The Fo… the wonderful The Four… the brilliant The Four Tops. Oh, it’s Boy George. Nominees:

  • Christians
  • Def Leppard
  • Erasure
  • Pet Shop Boys
  • Wet Wet Wet

Winner: Erasure.

Best International Male Solo Artist

This time, with a bit of culture (you know, because he was in Culture Club) it’s Boy Geo… oh, OK, The Four Tops. Nominees:

  • Alexander O’Neal
  • Luther Vandross
  • Michael Jackson
  • Prince
  • Terence Trent D’Arby

A clean sweep for… why on earth did he feel it necessary to bring race into it? The Four Tops steal the award, claiming they’ll pass it onto the winner “at some point”.

Winner: Michael Jackson.

At which point Fairground Attraction start doing bird impressions.

Best International Female

In possibly the worst introduction yet, we learn that Madonna has been busy glorying in her bask. Presented by Michael Hutchence and John Farris out of INXS. Nominees:

  • Anita Baker
  • Enya
  • Kylie Minogue
  • Tracy Chapman
  • Whitney Houston

Winner: Tracy Chapman.

Best British Album

Presented by Carol Decker and Mike Rutherford. Nominees:

  • Aztec Camera – Love
  • Fairground Attraction – First of a Million Kisses
  • Pet Shop Boys – Introspective
  • Steve Winwood – Roll With It
  • The Pasadenas – To Whom It May Concern

Winner: Fairground Attraction.

Best International Group

Whose turn is it? Um… no idea, let’s just fade the hosts out. Presented by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme out of 10cc. Nominees:

  • Bon Jovi
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • INXS
  • U2
  • Womack & Womack

Winner: U2.

Next up, Yazz, who sat on top of the chart for five weeks. Which must have been uncomfortable. Then Mark Knopfler and Alan Price bang on about the BRITs School for a bit.

Best British Newcomer

In an interesting move designed to completely outfox (ha!) the presenters, Ronnie Wood and Bill Wyman turn up with a mystery third person, without having shown us a list of “possibilities”. So the only nominee we know about is:

  • Bros

What a dreadful acceptance speech. Thanks Mum.

Winner: Bros.

Best International Newcomer

Presented by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox out of Eurythmics, who seem to have locked the winner in a studio. Nominees:

  • Belinda Carlisle
  • Enya
  • Michelle Shocked
  • Salt ‘n’ Pepa
  • Tracy Chapman

Winner: Tracy Chapman.

Def Leppard turn up for some heavy, heavy metal. And massive perms.

Best Classical Recording

Presented by Courtney Pine and Mica Paris. Nominees:

  • Andre Previn – Violin & Viola Concertos: Walton
  • Jeffrey Tate – Opera Arias – Mozart – Kiri te Kanawa
  • Phillip Brunelle – Paul Bunyan – Britten
  • Simon Rattle – Symphony No 2 – Mahler
  • Trevor Pinnock – Messiah – Handel

Handel has been totally up there for loads of years.

Winner: Trevor Pinnock.

Best Soundtrack/Cast Recording

If we’re not careful then the whole show might grind to an abysmal and moody halt. Which would leave everyone feeling very pleased, probably. Presented by Justin Hayward, someone else out of The Moody Blues, and Belinda Carlisle.

  • Buster (various artists)
  • Good Morning Vietnam (various artists)
  • Hairspray (various artists)
  • Rattle and Hum (U2)
  • The Princess Bride (Mark Knopfler)

Winner: Buster, accepted by Phil Collins and The Four Tops.

Tanita Tikaram then performs in a suit.

Best Music Video

Voted for by viewers of Going Live on BBC1, and presented by Jools Holland, outshouted by Ken Russell. Nominees:

  • Bananarama – Nathan Jones
  • George Harrison – When We Was Fab
  • Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal
  • The Christians – Harvest for the World
  • Wet Wet Wet – Temptation

Winner: Michael Jackson.

Best British Male Solo Artist

By this stage we’ve pretty much settled into a pretty dreadful style. Presented by Joan Armatrading and Joe Elliott. Nominees:

  • Chris Rea
  • George Michael
  • Phil Collins
  • Robert Palmer
  • Steve Winwood

Winner: Phil Collins.

Best British Female Solo Artist

Presented by Tina Turner, complete with the kind of sexist introduction that you’ve never seen in any tabloid newspaper. Nominees:

  • Annie Lennox
  • Mica Paris
  • Sade
  • Tanita Tikaram
  • Yazz

Winner: Annie Lennox.

Bros follow with a lot of jumping around.

Outstanding Contribution

Presented by the chairman of the BPI Peter Jamieson, who should really have been hanging his head in shame by this stage.

Winner: Cliff Richard. After an appallingly pseudo-religious speech, Cliff deservedly leaves the stage to almost total silence.

Which artist could be singled out to close a show like this? I think we’d agree, no one. Mark Knopfler, Randy Newman and the BRITs Supergroup close the show with a song which even the performers don’t even seem to be enjoying, and finally the thing comes to an end.

Performances

  • Bros – I Owe You Nothing
  • Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar On Me
  • Fairground Attraction – Perfect
  • Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine – Rhythm Is Gonna Get You
  • Mark Knopfler, Randy Newman and the BRITs Supergroup – Falling in Love
  • Tanita Tikaram – Good Tradition
  • Yazz – Got to Share

Further Reading / Viewing