The Brits: Past, Present and Future

Chris Connor reflects on this year's Brits, and offers insight into what to expect from the awards in a constantly-evolving music industry.

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This years Brits seemed to garner more attention than some in previous years, being dominated by Dua Lipa and Stormzy, who both took home 2 awards, and with Rag N Bone winning best British single. It is perhaps an indicator that the awards winners, much like at the Grammys, have become almost exclusively chart darlings. However, categories such as Best British band and International group offered a more varied set of nominees with groups such as London Grammar and the XX getting nominations, where perhaps they should in the main album categories also.

The biggest name in Grime dominated this year’s awards.

Brits in past years have been dominated by certain artists in certain categories, with Annie Lennox in particular winning the Best British female award 6 times. Likewise, Coldplay have won best British group on 4 occasions with several nominations. Do these dominations from one particular artist mean the awards are flawed or is that the awards are justified? Did the 1975 really deserve to win their award over Radiohead in 2017? Will we see such domination from future acts, or a more mixed set of winners? I feel we are unlikely to see artists sweeping the major gongs, like Oasis in 1996.

Past awards have included some controversial performance moments ,with Jarvis Cocker of Pulp infamously interrupting Michael Jackson’s performance of Earth song in the 1990s. Other moments of controversy include Robbie Williams calling out Liam Gallagher in his acceptance speech in 2000. It remains to be seen whether we will see moments akin to these in future, however they are arguably the moments the ceremonies are remembered for – perhaps more so than the music.

one artist’s final release, followed up by another’s debut

The album category is harder to pick holes in with the large bulk being critical darlings. However, perhaps there could have been more variety in this year’s album nominees. It certainly bodes well for Grime that Stormzy was able to win best album and is a marked contrast to the 2017 winner, Bowie’s Blackstar; one artist’s final release, followed up by another’s debut. This also highlights the range of genres competing for awards in the modern day and success for established acts coupled with newer artists does help draw in more of a mixed audience.

The main prediction I have for the future is for the awards to become even more commercialised, with Rock groups only receiving fleeting nominations, akin to this years awards where the main representation was in the Best British group category. This is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it does mean the awards are likely to cater more to fans of commercial pop act. I feel rap and hip hop look set to dominate, with Kendrick Lamar’s award for best international male, coupling up well with Stormzy’s successful evening.  May we perhaps see the awards used more as a political arena, with Stormzy calling out Theresa May over the Grenfell tower tragedy during his performance? Or was this a flash in the pan moment?

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