It goes without saying that the Brits are not the draw they once were. But I was sick of being cynical about them. I sunk into my chair with the reservoir of alcohol I had bought and waited to witness something other than James Corden and mediocre musical performances.
And did I? The fact that Ellie Goulding was named best British female solo artist should tell you everything. Of course I bloody didn’t. Unless you count David Bowie’s unionist shout out, delivered by a Kate Moss-shaped proxy, as inflammatory (it wasn’t), this junket was as boring and self-congratulatory as last year’s. And the year before. And the year before that.
Compère James Corden did some things he thought people would find amusing. Which they didn’t. And took some selfies he believed qualified as ironic. Which they weren’t. In fact, James Corden was a recurring annoyance; I promise not to mention him again.
Otherwise, Prince and his band 3rdEYEGIRL who I saw the other night at one of their secret gigs (where they were quite exciting) made an appearance (where they weren’t). Katy Perry unveiled her new Aztec look. Beyoncé did a turn – while I went to buy bread – and Bruno Mars won an award, as did Bastille.
Now I don’t know about you, but having never knowingly heard any songs chart-topping indie combo Bastille, I didn’t have an opinion before last night. Now I have heard two of their songs – and I still have no opinion. They’re just one of those bands I guess. Can you imagine describing yourself as a ‘Bastille fan’? What would the demonym be? Bastillian? Bastillard? You know where this is going.
Whatever the case, they didn’t win best group or the very rock ‘n’ roll MASTERCARD British album of the year award – both went to the Arctic Monkeys for the third time in seven years, which although utterly predictable was probably fair. I can’t think of a British band or album less boring than them or their one.
I got no air-punching impulse from the win. Nor did I feel particularly proprietorial over the spectacle of Fabregas handing the best international solo artist gong to Nile Rodgers, standing in for Daft Punk. It was beyond personal taste. There was a carefully-selected winner for absolutely everyone sufficiently bored to suffer it.
There were surprises, but they were very much calculated surprises. Rudimental’s best British single win was the obligatory daring moment, while Bowie’s coronation as best British solo artist confirmed nothing the baby boomer audience didn’t already know.
No, it’s the speeches, the transparent drive for manageable controversy to top Jarvis Cocker’s bum-wiggling or John Prescott’s drenching, the parochial nature of it all, regardless of how many American stars they rope in, that make it all such a non-event. I was sick of being cynical about the Brits – what I hadn’t acknowledged was that I’d never sat through the entire thing on telly before.
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.