And that is all from us
I can’t tell whether that seemed to go incredibly fast or last a million years. It’s hard to resume normal mental function post-liveblog and not contrive comment on everything in sight. “This toothbrush has nothing on Jack Whitehall, etc etc.” (Clearly, tonight has lasted a million years.)
Anyway, thanks for joining me and Elle for a very strange Brits. We have the strange predicament of a largely great class of winners coupled with a pretty boring event. Good performances from Little Simz and Dave for sure, but a distinct lack of excitement otherwise, and a serious downturn in hosting from the Whitehall era. Maybe one day they’ll get it right! Until then, we’re off to simmer down from all the moderate pop excitement with an episode of Cheers. The Brits’ best single has nothing on Gary Portnoy. Goodnight!
In case you want a souvenir, the Brits’ first NFT collection is on sale from tomorrow. Bagsy that triumphant Anne-Marie recovery.
- Artist of the year: Adele
- Group of the year: Wolf Alice
- Song of the year: Adele – Easy on Me
- New artist: Little Simz
- Album of the year: Adele – 30
Genre awards (as voted by fans)
- Alt/rock: Sam Fender
- Hip-hop/grime/rap: Dave
- Dance: Becky Hill
- Pop/R&B: Dua Lipa
- International artist of the year: Billie Eilish
- International group: Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak)
- International song of the year: Olivia Rodrigo – good 4 u
- Rising star: Holly Humberstone
- Producer of the year: Inflo
- Songwriter of the year: Ed Sheeran
For the last set of the night
It’s Dave performing In the Fire with help from Fredo, Ghetts, Meekz, Giggs and a gospel choir. Unlike his 2020 Brits performance in which he attacked prime minister Boris Johnson as “a real racist”, this performance is all about pure feeling, Dave detailing the experience of being at risk of deportation, and how “everythin’ but my mum’s pay’s on the rise”. It may well be its own form of limitation to expect political artists to keep on making political statements, and so this is a well earned moment of full-frontal emotional expression that climaxes with Dave ripping a solo on a guitar that shoots real flames out of the neck.
Phew! It’s very warm in here, but maybe it’s just my laptop going into overdrive from our relentless journalistic service tonight.
Time for a recap of all the performances we’ve enjoyed over the past two hours, in case once was not enough for you of Ed Sheeran X Bring Me The Horizon.
Dave is shredding the guitar! And the guitar is shooting fire!
Dave’s set the stage ablaze for a performance of In the Fire, complete with gospel choir and all-star appearances from Fredo, Meekz, Ghetts and Giggs.
Adele wins album of the year
Adele wins album of the year for 30: her third, having won in 2016 for 25 and in 2012 for 21. She thanks “her label and stuff”, but dedicates this win to her son Angelo.
“I’m very proud of myself for sticking to my guns and putting out an album that was so personal to me, because not many people do stuff like that anymore,” she says.
Angelo, aged nine, had been so patient and “gracious” with her during the process, Adele said.
She also paid tribute to producer of the year (not awarded on the broadcast), Inflo, as “someone who was absolutely integral” to the album.
“He really changed my life, not just with my music – he really helped me in so many ways.”
Idris Elba, of the film Cats, is here to present the big one: album of the year.
- 30 by Adele
- We’re All Alone In This Together by Dave
- = by Ed Sheeran
- Sometimes I Might Be Introvert by Little Simz
- Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender
“Wow, this is going to be difficult,” says Idris Elba, “because I love each of those people so much.”
It’s down to the Brits academy, not him.
Not to sound gazillion years old and deeply uncool, but host Mo Gilligan’s focus on drinking as the peak of rock’n’roll excess – down to checking in with Maya Jama on what cocktails are being served at the bar, and grilling 16-year-old A1 (of A1 & J1) on how many shots he’s done – is wearing a bit thin.
Not least for famously moderate Gen Z...
Becky Hill is definitely having a good time eh. “I AM INCREDIBLY HAPPY!”
Ed Sheeran... again
Here’s The Joker and the Queen, a sugary slab of classic Sheeran sentimentality played largely on acoustic guitar: his lady could have absolutely anyone, “a thousand kings and hearts that could give you a diamond ring”, and yet, she chooses this guy. To his credit, he knows a lot of card playing-related puns and he’s not afraid to use them. My cynicism meters are off the charts, my teeth are aching from the saccharine strings – this makes Bread’s Make It With You sound like Sabbath – and yet... the millennial Neil Sedaka comes back to this MOR slush mode so often that you can only believe he means it, and good for him. Maybe we could all learn from his guileless submission to romance, to minimising unnecessary second-guessing.
That said, Bring Me the Horizon were wasted on Bad Habits. This could definitely have been livened up with some throat-grating wails.
Should you find yourself looking at the clock during the Ed Sheeran weepy strings section – there’s just one more award to go, album of the year.
Brian Cox has beaten a hasty retreat, without going full beast.
Ed Sheeran has come on stage to accept songwriter of the year. He thanks his record label, and his wife Cherry for going along with his move to the country and being “so supportive while we just make songs and songs and songs.”
Cherry looks sweetly bashful in the audience.
I know Brian Cox is a fine actor but he simply cannot make me believe that Logan Roy is an Ed Sheeran fan.
Logan “Brian Cox” Roy is here to present songwriter of the year!
“I am delighted to be here tonight, to present the award for the songwriter of the year. Now let’s take a look at some of the work of this year’s winner.”
It’s Ed Sheeran.
Where is the Beast? Unleash the Beast!!!!!!!!!!!
Adele wins artist of the year
Mo Farah presents Adele with artist of the year, her second award of the night. On her way to the stage, she gives Little Simz – one of the nominees in the category, alongside Ed Sheeran, Sam Fender and Dave – a friendly pat on the shoulder.
“I’ve never changed so fast in my life,” she says, breathless and back in black after her glittery gold performance prior. “I actually wasn’t expecting this one at all.”
Then Adele offers some words of encouragement to the new, and less established artists out there:
“I want to say a massive congratulations to Little Simz, I think you’re absolutely... [Audio cuts out, assumedly for a stream of praiseful expletives] I’m so proud to be in your company. I love being an artist, I really do, I genuinely can’t believe it’s my job. Real artistry, there’s so many new artists here in England, the UK – we have so many new young artists coming up. Never lose sight of why you are who you are, the reason people are into you is because of something in you – don’t let go of it.”
She also references the change in the category, from female artist of the year to artist of the year, saying that she understands why it happened – “but I really love being a woman, I really love being a female artist, I really do”. And she’s off – though she’s also nominated for album of the year, yet to come.
Here’s Little Simz and her wonderful mum.
Sam Fender performs
The War on Drugs may have lost out on international group but here’s their spirit (and their mutual Springsteen DNA) in the superb Sam Fender, another British star who deserves every bit of success coming his way. (The War on Greggs? Needs work – ed.)
Curiously, this classicist rock song has blown up on TikTok, where it soundtracks videos about overcoming abuse (as well as sparkly fancams about Fender being a “top tier indie boi”). Although there’s been a fairly conspicuous lack of political commentary to usual at the Brits tonight – and there’s plenty of low-hanging fruit to go at – Fender singing about his mother, who has fibromyalgia, struggling to get help from the Department for Work and Pensions, is a powerful moment not to be underestimated in the middle of a shiny floor entertainment show.
Silk Sonic wins international group of the year
Clara Amfo presents the award for international group of the year to Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, aka Silk Sonic. They can’t attend either, so have sent a video of them seated by side by side in the West Coast sunshine, wearing tawny tones.
“Little bit of a problem,” says Bruno Mars. “You only sent one award, and there’s two of us! We’ll share it.”
Anderson .Paak wrests it off Bruno Mars, muttering out the side of his mouth: “You have one already, you have one!”
I appreciate the obvious attention to styling, lighting, and comedic scripting of their acceptance video. It’s the little things.
They beat four groups to the award, at least one of whom even that commenter who was talking about Fairport Convention will have heard of: BTS, the War on Drugs, Måneskin and ABBA. (The winner does not take it all …)
Dave wins hip-hop/grime/rap act
Dave wins best hip-hop/grime/rap act, one of the genre-specific, fan-voted categories.
“First of all I want to thank God, first and foremost for this. For the last couple of years I want to thank God, I want to dedicate everything to Him.” He also thanks his fans. He passed a college on his way to the O2, he says, and it took him back to an older (simpler?) time:
“I saw some of the kids going to college and doing their thing and it took me back to a different time – it feels like just yesterday, I went to St Mark’s [Academy, in Mitcham].”
Dave’s incendiary performance at the 2020 Brits was hailed as the awards’ most political moment in recent memory, but tonight he seems in a reflective mood.
“I’m a difficult person,” he says, “and I want to say thank you to all of my friends, and anyone that knows me, for putting up with me. And the rappers that have suffered for years and years and years and years and have broken down so many barriers.”
Also nominated in the category was AJ Tracey, Central Cee, Ghetts and Little Simz.
Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s mum is “not saying anything tonight” after Wolf Alice beats Little Mix to group of the year. But you’re also saying something, aren’t you, Debbie? (Eyes emoji.)
Adele's first UK performance since 2016!
The I Drink Wine singer starts her set with I Drink Wine, of course. And dressed as the Quality Street toffee penny, too. Perhaps after Anne Marie’s tumble, she’s taking no chances and performs the song perched on a piano. What starts as a low-key, tipsy gals together singalong quickly gives way to some proper Adele virtuosity, backed by a small gospel choir. The hints of self-awareness in her face in the first verse dip away by the second, as she leans into the feeling of the song, grimaces with the full force of her emotions and clutches at her heart. The small-scale performance preserves the humanity and directness of the song: “You can’t fight fire with fire,” she sings with an exasperated look, as if she were trying to drum the advice into a mate at the pub. Her seductive boozy melodrama takes a brief digression into full diva at the end, with a tantalising glimpse of vocal overdrive – but then she dials it back down to earth.
Lovely, though I reckon people were expecting more especially given how rehearsed she must have been for her cancelled Vegas shows. May the I Drink Wine singer now go and enjoy some wine now her professional duties are done (though she’s still nominated in two more categories...).
Adele’s on stage, singing I Drink Wine on a glittery golden set that invokes (to Laura) a Quality Street toffee penny and (to me) the Robbie Williams Millennium video.
My only bit of Adele trivia is that her tipple of choice is a £20 rosé available from Waitrose:
Little Simz wins Best New Artist
Little Simz brings her mum up on stage to accept her first-ever Brit award, presented by Tom Daley. She’s won against Central Cee, Griff, Joy Crookes and Self Esteem. Her mother, clinging onto the award, looks thrilled.
“Thank you so much,” says Simz. “Look at what you’ve done Mum.” Her mum sheds a few tears – a genuinely moving moment.
“I’m from north London, Islington … I’m an independent artist and to be here tonight, receiving this award, is such a blessing – I’m so grateful.” Simz thanks her team, her family and extended family, and God.
“I wanna say to anyone who is watching this at home, I am living proof that if you work hard at something, no matter where you come from, your background, your race – you can be something extraordinary. This is for all the kids, keep dreaming, keep pushing. I am you, you are me. Lessons. Thank you so much.”
Here’s this year’s Rising Star winner – beloved by Olivia Rodrigo, as we just learned – making her TV debut. You wonder whether the 22-year-old Lincoln songwriter shouldn’t have played one of her better known songs – the euphoric Scarlett or dramatic The Walls Are Way Too Thin – instead of the featherlight new single London Is Lonely. But what starts a little wispy, the vocals barely audible, forces closer listening, and Humberstone, walking towards the camera and staring straight down the lens, seems rightly confident in her ability to command attention. Her shadowy dancers flit through the background as the song gains in melodic magnetism, as so many of Humberstone’s singles do, and the drama picks up when the electrics seem to cut out, the dancers walk away and Humberstone finishes the song alone at the piano, surrounded by white lights.
Also: Griff for 2023 presenter, great job!
At 22 years old, Holly Humberstone – already announced as the Brits’ rising star – became a break-out star during the pandemic after taking the runner-up spot in the BBC’s Sound of 2021. Her debut EP, Falling Asleep at the Wheel, had been streamed 65m times by the end of the year.
This rising star award has previously gone to some of the biggest names in British pop, including two of tonight’s winners – Adele and Sam Fender. She’s also been invited to tour with international song of the year winner Olivia Rodrigo.
After two EPs, Humberstone also aims to release her debut album this year, telling the BBC that “there is a lot more” music to come: “The problem is I’m such a perfectionist. There’s something quite terrifying about the thought of an album: I will never feel like it’s finished.”
Asked by the BBC what woman’s name was the hardest to rhyme, Humberstone said “Lauren”. But Holly – “foreign” is right there! (And as the BBC reporter pointed out: so’s “florin”.)
Does this get us cowriting credits?
Billie Eilish wins international artist of the year
Billie Eilish wins international artist of the year for the second year in a row, against Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift. (Last year there were male and female categories: The Weeknd won the male equivalent.)
She cannot attend this evening but says in a video of herself, precariously holding her Brit by what looks like a kitchen cabinet (dark wood): “I feel so lucky to be awarded this AGAIN, I don’t feel like I deserve it.”
She says she loves her UK fans and can’t wait to perform at Glastonbury. See you there Beyelash!
In the meantime, perhaps revisit this great profile of the newly-blonde Billie by Laura Snapes, currently furiously reviewing Holly Humberstone’s performance next to me on the sofa.
Earlier, winning song of the year with Easy on Me, Adele expressed surprise that a) there were so many nominees and b) a piano ballad could win against them. Well, it turns out that she bucked the trend in a couple of areas.
Research commissioned by Mastercard, sponsor of the Brit awards, into songs nominated in the song of the year category across 40 years of the Brits, found some key changes (‘scuse the pun):
- In the 80s, the average song length was 4m30s; today it’s 3m07s
- More than half of the song of the year nominees had one-word titles in 2021: almost double when compared with the 80s and 90s (27%)
- The earliest winners of SOTY started with verses; winners now typically start with choruses (that’s the impact of streaming services for you – always out to hook us in the first 30 seconds)
- Modern tracks average five songwriters versus the single-writer songs common of the 80s
- And of the 329 songs analysed … 60% of the lyrics were about romantic love <333
As they say on the quiz show … Quite Interesting!
Wolf Alice win group of the year
Måneskin, in their fetching matching blue-and-pink, present Wolf Alice with group of the year.
Theo Ellis says the win is “absolutely unbelievable: I think we’re quite shocked. We’d really like to thank our record label, who completely took us to this position that we’re in right now. Without them, we would never have got here. We’d so proud to be a band in this day and age … I’m going to get battered.”
Joff Oddie chips in to suggest forming a supergroup with Måneskin. Ellie Rowsell looks too thrilled to speak.
Nominees for the award were Coldplay, D-Block Europe, Little Mix and London Grammar.
It's Liam Gallagher
He’s flown in by helicopter to ‘av it in a trapper hat and sing a brand new song that precisely nobody wants to hear. If your new music sounds like plodding, fist-through-a-wet-paper-bag Oasis cast-offs – and you’re going to bring Bonehead with you on guitar! – just play the hits, man! Having Liam here is a strange tactic from the Brits, too, if they’re looking to lure in a younger audience, although I was recently disturbed to learn of the massive cohort of teenage Britpop lovers using TikTok to debate whether Liam or Noel was the biggest dilf. (Liam tbf.) Apparently this song was inspired by Gimme Shelter, which is quite the understatement given that telling bit of piano boogie at the end, literally the only trace of colour in a ferociously drab, pile-driving four minutes.
“Oh my gosh, how epic was that!” says Mo Gilligan. Not epic at all, Mo. The days when Liam could coast on fronting at the Brits are long, long gone.
It didn’t take long for Twitter to capture Anne-Marie’s fall for posterity …
… Nor Anne-Marie to comment.
Mo Gilligan in a bucket hat and sunglasses, going “Maaaaaaybeeeeeeee” before the ad break, reminds us that Liam Gallagher is imminently due to perform.
Earlier today on Absolute Radio, Gallagher was invited to reminisce about his “incredible” walk to the stage to collect an award at the Brits in 1995. Host Dave Berry likened the one-track shot of a wiggling Liam, in dark glasses and longline track jacket, to being “like Goodfellas”. Liam seems to just about remember:
“Oh yeah … Oh yeah. Is it the one where I’ve got a dark jacket on, a black jacket on? And I’m smoking as well, weren’t I? Ah, I’m just thinking … give it here! Give it here! It’s mine. [Standing up] It’s not his! It’s mine. I’m just making sure our kid [Noel Gallagher] doesn’t come up and overtake me – a bit of road rage on the way to the stage. But nah, nah – I was just mad for getting on that stage, and collecting what was ours.”
In fact Blur won four awards, the most any artist has gained in a single ceremony, to Oasis’s one for British Breakthrough Act – hence why it might not be high among Liam’s most cherished memories.
On one hand it’s good that the Brits is trying out a new host after four years. On the other hand, I miss Jack Whitehall’s delicious rudeness and perilously sharp wit. Gilligan’s largely unfunny, pre-prepared set pieces don’t compare …
Becky Hill wins dance artist
We’re getting through them at great pace now.
An emotional, even euphoric Becky Hill, in emerald green sequins, notes the importance of winning a fan-voted award: “I have never been so heartwarm’d – I don’t even know if that’s a word …
“I have been a little drum’n’bass raver since I was 12 years old: I love dance music, and to be up against people like Raye, Joel [Corry], Fred [Again], Calvin [Harris] is an honour.”
“She is one of our hottest new artists,” says Mo Gilligan, of a rapper who released her debut mixtape in 2010. Come on, Mo! It sometimes feels like Simz is kept in a perpetual state of arrival, hailed as a “breakout star” when she’s been releasing brilliant albums for the last six years. But if anything is finally going to rocket launch her into public consciousness, it is this unbelievable, grin-inducing performance.
It starts with Simz concealed by dancers clad in burgundy, a vision of communality that recalls Solange’s gorgeous live shows. She emerges from their midst in a fabulous black leather trench coat to sing the title track from her 2021 album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, picking her up and twirling her overhead. Then Emma Corrin – yes, The Crown’s Princess Diana! – appears to perform their interstitial parts from the album, encouraging Simz to embrace the journey of becoming a woman.
And then, like magic, the stage turns red, Simz’s leather coat has become a soft furry number, and she’s flanked by dancers in silky pantsuits for the wonderful Woman, with its chorus vocals by Cleo Sol. Simz may be shy in person, but she’s in her element on stage: effortlessly cool, putting the night’s previous try-hard performances to shame, rapping with spirit and admiration and well earned confidence as she sings of “innovating just like Donna Summer in the 80s”.
“Woman to woman, I just wanna see you glow, tell ‘em!” she sings, popping a little shoulder flex. I can report a sensation of rosy warmth from the sofa, so I hope Simz is absolutely basking in it.
Sam Fender wins alternative/rock award
Ronnie Wood’s “favourite”, our very own angel of the north – Sam Fender wins the alternative/rock award. “I had a plan, and now I’ve forgotten it, so I’m just going to say thanks to the fans,” he says.
He also thanks his manager – “for walking into that pub years ago, and believing in it” – and his hometown North Shields.
In August, he told the Guardian’s music editor Ben Beaumont-Thomas about his journey to embracing himself as an “empathic little softie”.
He’s nominated for three awards tonight (including album of the year), and is performing for the first-time tonight.
Ronnie Wood is presenting the alternative/rock award, as voted on by the public. Nominees are Coldplay, Glass Animals, Sam Fender, Tom Grennan and Wolf Alice. And the winner is...
Dua Lipa wins Pop/R&B artist of the year
This is one of the four new genre-specific categories of the new-look Brits, voted on by the public. Dula Peep (as she’s known to friends) was up against Adele, Ed Sheeran, Griff and Joy Crookes.
She’s not attending the ceremony tonight, due to a rehearsal schedule in the US, but sent a video of herself surrounded by loved ones/professional collaborators to say thanks.
Our pleasure, Dula Peep!
“Boris, I know you’re watching,” says host Mo Gilligan. “I know you love a party. Come down, man.”
It might not be the last political comment of the night. In 2020, rapper Dave called the PM a racist on stage and rebuked the media over their treatment of Meghan Markle in what was described as “the most important performance in the history of the Brits”.
The home secretary, Priti Patel, was critical of Dave’s performance, suggesting that he must not know Johnson very well (“no way is he a racist”); but media watchdog Ofcom rejected more than 300 complaints of the performance, saying that it was “likely to be within viewers’ expectations of this well-established awards ceremony”.
Anne Marie and KSI
“Another iconic collaboration,” says Mo Gilligan, introducing Anne Marie and KSI. We get a bit of an Anne Marie medley at the start – then she takes a very painful looking tumble down the red steps at the top of the stage! To her credit, she pulls it back with barely a wince and rejoins the choreo. Within seconds, she’s slapping a button, triggering some pyro, and kicking a man off a podium (must have been cathartic after that fall). Sadly, she does not do a Patti Smith at Glastonbury and shout: “Yeah, I fell on my fucking ass at Glastonbury. But you know why? Because I’m a fucking animal, that’s why!” Instead, there’s a man wearing a pink egg for a head on the decks, then here’s KSI and off they go into Don’t Play Games With My Heart for half a minute before we get KSI’s Holiday, a phenomenally drippy lighters-up moment. Iconic? Errr …
A gasp over here as Anne Marie falls down the stairs, seconds into her live performance of Kiss My (Uh Oh) – her Madonna moment! A fantastic recovery, though, befitting of a pro.
Olivia Rodrigo wins international song of the year
As we recover from that Courteney Cox/Snow Patrol bomb …
Olivia Rodrigo wins international song of the year with Good 4 U.
As Laura says, she does not seem especially surprised: “She did a very bad job at surprise face.”
“This is so cool ohmigosh thank you,” says Olivia Rodrigo on stage. “Last year at the Brits was my first performance ever so to get this performance tonight is so surreal. I love the UK and I so appreciate the love you’ve shown to Good 4 U and my album this year.”
She thanks Dan Nigro, her friend and collaborator, with her in the audience.
Here’s the full shortlist:
- Your Love (9PM) by BTS/Topic/A7S
- Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish
- Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah) by Ckay
- Kiss Me More by Doja Cat ft Sza
- Girls Want Girls by Drake ft Lil Baby
- Heartbreak Anthem by Galantis/Guetta/Little Mix
- Black Magic by Jonasu
- Stay by Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber
- Montero (Call Me By Your Name) by Lil Nas X
- Calling My Phone by Lil Tjay & 6lack
- I Wanna Be Your Slave by Maneskin
- Rapstar by Polo
- The Business by Tiesto
- Save Your Tears by The Weeknd
I’m sorry did anyone know that Courteney Cox goes out with one of Snow Patrol?! Good for him.
Adele wins song of the year for Easy on Me
Adele’s won. Will we get used to saying that?
“Thank you so much,” she says. “First of all, I didn’t realise there were that many songs nominated for song of the year – I can’t believe a piano ballad won against that many bangers.”
She says she loves coming home, and that the Brits has been a part of her career since way back when … “well, when I was a foetus.”
And with that Adele keeps it short and sweet – perhaps anticipating other trips to the stage to come. She’s nominated for artist of the year, album of the year with 30, and pop/R&B artist (one of the four new genre-specific categories, voted on by the public).
The Brits seemed to be the only pop culture-adjacent property that Years and Years’ Olly Alexander isn’t appearing on (love him but who can forget that tedious New Year’s Eve BBC1 special), but lo, here he is in an ad for Capital FM. God loves a trier.
Ted Lasso stars Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein are presenting the song of the year – brace yourself, there are a few of them …
- Latest Trends by A1 & J1
- Easy On Me by Adele
- Don’t Play by Anne-Marie/KSI/Digital Farm Animals
- Remember by Becky Hill and David Guetta
- Obsessed With You by Central Cee
- Clash by Dave ft Stormzy
- Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran
- Cold Heart (Pnau Mis) by Elton John and Dua Lipa
- Heat Waves by Glass Animals
- Bed by Joel Corry/Raye/David Guetta
- Holiday by KSI
- Wellerman by Nathan Evans/220 Kid/Billen Ted (that’s the TikTok sea shanty one, remember?!!)
- Friday by Riton/Nightcrawlers/Mufasa
- Body by Tion Wayne and Russ Millions
- Little Bit of Love by Tom Grennan
Ed Sheeran and … Bring Me the Horizon?!
Is there no genre that Sheeran cannot subsume into his oeuvre? Apparently not, because here he is performing his hit Bad Habits with British metallers Bring Me the Horizon and a cohort of goth circus performers and/or rejects from the musical Cats. He starts the song alone, but the double billing means we’re holding our breath for the inevitable metal RAWRRRRR – and here it comes courtesy of Oli Sykes! RAWWRRR! RAWWRRRRRR! It’s basically the KLF and Extreme Noise Terror at the 1992 Brit awards. Maybe a 30th anniversary celebration, in fact. Yes, that must be it. Anyway, the Brits love a mashup and here’s a characteristically naff one – complete with those shopping trolleys from the red carpet – albeit one that nods to the versatility (some might say blandness, who could say, couldn’t be me) of Sheeran’s songwriting.
Text from Guardian music editor Ben Beaumont-Thomas, otherwise engaged tonight: “Obvs I loved it.”
While Laura gathers her thoughts on that rousing opening performance from Ed Sheeran and Bring Me The Horizon …
Another first tonight: Mo Gilligan becomes the first non-white host of the Brits since 1994, when RuPaul co-presented alongside Elton John.
By way of comparison, the past four ceremonies have been presented by Jack Whitehall.
Self Esteem – who made the best album of 2021, per Snapes and the rest of the Guardian music team – says she’s too superstitious to write an acceptance speech, but she’s nonetheless been manifesting a win. She’s nominated for the first time this year for Best New Artist.
“I just can’t stop laughing and screaming,” she tells Maya Jama, “but yes, I’m very chill, clearly. Whatever happens, I’m not bothered. But I really want to win it.” A ton of contradictions, befitting of her fantastic album.
On to the awards now …
Here we gooooooo
Have we all got a drink and some snacks? Welcome to the main event!
IS ADELE ENGAGED?
Whacking great ring on her ring finger!!! A soft-launch announcement? You heard it here first! (Probably.)
Anyway, the I Drink Wine singer is cold. But she feels great. As she says, she was “never supposed to be coming ‘cos I was supposed to have my shows” – the aforementioned Vegas cancellation – but every cloud has a silver lining and “so I’m pleased I can be here”.
Even with all those nominations behind her, Adele still feels “a bit silly coming to these things” and has to “block out a little bit with awards ceremonies otherwise my nerves would get the better of me”.
Despite the fact that her success tonight is very much bolted on, she’s not “cocky” about winning them all, though one would be nice, eh?
As for an after-party? It’s straight back to the flat for a McDonald’s and some white wine. Because Adele drinks wine!!!!!
“It’s custom,” says Joy Crookes of her get-up.
This year marks a significant shake-up for the Brits: it’s the first, since the first-ever in 1977, to be held without gendered categories.
The decision to do away with awards for male and female talent was made last November, following criticism by the non-binary signer Sam Smith, excluded from entering the gendered categories for solo artist.
Now, a new award for artist of the year will replace the categories for “British male solo artist of the year” and the “British female solo artist of the year”. Likewise, “international male artist of the year” and the “female international artist of the year” are replaced by a new award for international artist of the year.
Fairly intuitive swaps, you’ll agree! (And the MTV VMA awards have been gender neutral since 2017.) But, of course, questions of diversity, equality and inclusion at the Brits go more than category-deep.
The 2020 ceremony, for example, featured only one British woman across the mixed categories of British album, group, song and new artist – prompting concerns that removing the women-only categories could reduce the number of women recognised overall.
But, as Alexis Petridis wrote of last year’s winners, there have been signs to suggest that the Brits – and the broader industry – might finally be taking the issue of gender disparity seriously.
A bit of trivia for you: before the male and female solo artist categories ended, Annie Lennox and Robbie Williams received the most (six and four, respectively).
And through the run of international artist categories from 1989, Björk won four and Beck, Eminem and Kanye West each won three.
OK, time for some good fashion, as exactingly assessed by someone wearing thermal leggings and an old yellow T-shirt. Dave!
Olivia Rodrigo! Who always looks a lot more shy on the red carpet than you’d imagine given the bite of her songs.
Strong Cher styling from BBC Radio 1’s Vick Hope.
A resplendent Joy Crookes.
Rising Star award
Holly Humberstone is the winner of this year’s Brits Rising Star award (formerly known as Critics’ Choice), and she’s performing later too. If you’re not familiar with her yet, she’s one of the breakout stars of the pandemic, her sensitive pop – halfway between Lorde and the 1975 – and lyrics about loneliness striking a chord with listeners stuck inside during lockdown. I met her last autumn (after initially mistaking her for an off-duty waitress) and was struck by how cautiously she was navigating her newfound fame.
Anne-Marie, looking very formidable with contouring as sharp as the shoulders on her leather blazer, tells Maya Jama she would liked to have had “more” nominations, and that she pregames with a puzzle.
She, like many of the red-carpet interviewees tonight, alludes to the ongoing p-word (pandemic, not puzzle). Not many people are wearing masks, but the interviews are conducted at a conspicuous safe distance.
“It’s still a little bit Covid-y,” says Jama, “but we’re moving forward, aren’t we?”
It’s certainly an advance on last year’s ceremony, when the unmasked crowd of 4,000 was studied by government scientists for insight into how to safely hold events.
Going by this year’s red carpet, the findings seem to suggest keeping Celebrity Juice’s Leigh Frances at arm’s length.
“I’ve had a Covid test, I’m clean, I feel fantastic!” Frances tells Clara Amfo, from underneath his big hat.
“And that is all that counts, isn’t it!” says Amfo.
I can only assume that the red carpet photographers had tickets for Adele’s Vegas shows, cancelled at the last minute, and are now wreaking revenge. Or she’s teasing a very surprising performance later with a tribute to King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King.
Sam Fender says Greggs have supplied him with a stash of pasties for his after-party later. Here’s hoping for a follow-up to his A+, terminally hungover BBC Breakfast interview last October after celebrating Mike Ashley’s departure from Newcastle United.
‘So is it fair to say we’ll be seeing Simz as extrovert tonight?’ Clara Amfo, looking lovely in canary yellow from an appropriate social-distance, asks Little Simz – nominated for album of the year with Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. Very good!
Simz is also nominated for Best New Artist and one of the four new genre-specific categories, voted on by fans. Catch up with this great profile from last year by Simran Hans …
The question on absolutely nobody’s lips, apparently: no, it’s not a teacher training pub quiz team who won a trolley dash through Gucci, but biggest British band in the world Glass Animals.
Read about them becoming the first UK band to top Spotify’s global song chart right here.
Time to switch from the YouTube red-carpet live stream to the ITV2 broadcast (via a quick check-in with the GBBO technical bake – something meringue-y, looked hard).
Maya Jama (spotted earlier in a cut-out dress that looked equally technical) and Clara Amfo are taking over presenting duties from the O2 Arena from now until the awards start at 8pm.
“Obviously we’re all on TikTok,” Munya Chawawa tells his latest interviewees, in approximately the 37,969,647th mention of the social media platform so far tonight. The Brits has gone all out on TikTok and whatnot this year – the new genre categories are voted for by fans on TikTok, and PinkPantheress is also giving an “afterparty” on Roblox – presumably in a desperate attempt to seduce a vanishing youth audience who don’t care about awards shows. From the Golden Globes to the Grammys, such ceremonies are struggling to stay relevant in 2022, as Rhian Jones reported for us earlier this week.
For my money, the Brits should look to its own history for inspiration – namely Geri Halliwell’s 2000 performance in which she emerged from a gigantic pair of inflatable legs.
Griff, nominated for Best New Artist and Pop and R&B Artist (as voted for by the public), seems to be taking inspiration from … chess for her look tonight. A commentary on winners and losers, the psychological mind games of the Brits? We say: almost certainly.
The picture below doesn’t capture that Griff’s hair also has chess-board squares of white – a bit like when I don’t brush the dry shampoo properly.
The “burning red-carpet question” she’s posed by Munya Chawawa and Nella Rose is, are Crocs – the orthopaedic rubber shoe beloved by, at least, Justin Bieber – red-carpet appropriate? Griff gives an unhesitating, unequivocal yes – and says she came this close to wearing them tonight.
Looking at the below, would we even know if she did?
Elle, far be it from me to suggest that the trolleys and baskets decorating the red carpet are indicative of a slightly bargain basement affair.
A quick in and out by the looks of the ITV2 feed. Sadly no backstage chat about “how it feels to be nominated” for us, and given how many times she’s been up for the Brits (19), we’re being deprived of some expert knowledge here.
Munya Chawawa and Nella Rose are valiantly persevering with some red-carpet stop-and-chat, on a set inexplicably inspired by shopping trolleys.
Glass Animals, the best-dressed guys in your IT department, did some word games.
Jodie Whittaker said she’d be most starstruck to see Adele (the biggest scream of the night, marking the I Drink Wine singer’s arrival on the red carpet, suggests she’s not alone) – and Pete Tong.
And Mo Farah explains to Nella Rose how he can manage to run for more than a minute. It took him years to achieve his long-distance records, he says.
“You don’t understand,” says Nella Rose. “I can’t run for more than a minute.”
ADELE IS HERE
The only glimpse from the red carpet so far was the back of her expertly sculpted Hollywood bouffant.
To be fair to H-from-Steps lover E Hunt, Munya Chawawa just teased us with the prospect of A1 – the be-curtained 90s boyband – only to reveal, in fact, that he was about to chat to rap duo A1 and J1.
As a woman from Cornwall, I can only see Dr Who’s dress as a partisan comment on the Devonian belief that one should apply cream to their scone before jam. For shame.
Not to expose my Brits collaborator E Hunt too early in the night, and risk betrayal later, but when Manchester rapper Aitch was announced on the red carpet – and she was busy with her takeaway – she excitedly explained, “H from Steps?!” If only. If only.
The lovely Eurovision singers Måneskin have come in wipe-clean outfits, so no fretting about spillages for them tonight.
David Guetta has arrived. Please say we’ve all seen his quite incredible set in tribute to BLM and Martin Luther King.
OK, guess who, no cheating.
HELLO AND WELCOME
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the Guardian’s Brit awards live blog. I’d like to welcome you to my sofa, where I’ll be sharing live-blogging duties with Guardian writer Elle Hunt. I’d like to think we’re slightly more prepared from the woman manning the ITV red carpet coverage who is making no attempt to hide her flashcards with the stars’ faces on them. (Emphasis on slightly.) Anyway, the ceremony kicks off at 8pm so until then, please enjoy some sporadic and potentially uncharitable commentary on everyone’s outfits. I’ll leave you with the first emerging trend, “black dresses that appear to have lost a fight with the shredder”.