Culture House Daily

We watched the Brits so you didn’t have to…

20 February 2014

9:23 AM

20 February 2014

9:23 AM

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.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Cyril Sneer

    Never liked it, never properly watched it, full of self congratulating brown nosing tossers.

  • Picquet

    This sort of rubbish isn’t merely self-congratulatory; it’s masturbatory. I can not, for the life of me, understand why anyone would want to have anything to do with it, other than the commercial representatives of the singers of ‘popular’ songs.

  • karsten45

    Digby Warde-Aldam you are just to old for this. Give the youth a chance to write about this and do listen to your old songs with some alcohol.

    • Swanky

      You must be joking. He’s 20 if he’s a day!

  • roma1950

    it was dreadful.many presenting awards could’nt string a sentence together.switched off.

  • La Fold

    To be fair in a world of No Direction, The Unwanted, a “superband” made upf Busted and McFly (the musical versions of ryvita) and indie bands being mostly made up of boring made in chelsea types with more monye than talent the latest Arctic Monkeys album is actually pretty good, especially since they disappeared up their own jacksies a few years back hanging about the Joshua Tree with the Queens of the stone age etc

    • roma1950

      no. One Dimension.

      • La Fold

        To be honest either is a lot more polite than the name I usually give them.

        • roma1950

          very funny.and now we can see why our education is failing.

          • Ooh!MePurse!

            It’s easy to work out why you failed in education.

  • Swanky

    1. You mean you don’t have an entire room more or less devoted to your stocks of alcohol? You poor bloke. I tried to go in ours, once. I couldn’t open the door.

    2. The photo says ‘Kate Moss’; you say ‘proxy’. Which is right?

    3. I saw part of an interview not long ago with Alex or whoever the head Arctic Monkey is. He sounded intelligent, which explains a lot right there. Still, the only piece of theirs I actually know is a cover of Diamonds Are Forever. Shirley Bassey. I don’t suppose she’s ever been to the Brit Awards. Also, if I were going to name a band, Arctic Monkeys would not be the name that would have me saying ‘Yeah!’.

    4. Publiciity is one thing. But why do people feel the need to give out awards for what is not so much a universal value as idiosyncratic taste? Surely the only acts that get to these awards are the heavily promoted, lavishly funded ones, anyway. So then it becomes self-congratulation. But when the Parthenon was built (note to George Clooney: not the ‘Pantheon’, dear), did the Greeks award it with ‘Most Promising New Building’? I don’t think so.

    5. David Bowie. I love maybe two of his songs — three if I’m in a strange mood. The rest of the time I wonder how such a niche corner of music could have won such general reverence, or at least approbation.

    • La Fold

      My former band was originally called the Angry Young Teddybears. Sure we nicked it from soneone else though.

      • Swanky

        I like it. Bit of irony there, or aluminium anyway. But what the heck is A. M. supposed to evoke?

        • La Fold

          I have actually been drinking with the Arctic Monkeys, about a decade ago now when they first started gigging, and my mates were into them so we drove down to Wakefield overnight to see them. We even got a name check on Radio 1s Zane Lowe show (he said we drank a bit too much though which back then was very true).
          Arctic Monekys comes from when a scally up north said they sounded like Articulated Monkeys, they liked it but when they shortened it to Artic Monkeys it obviously didnt look right so they changed it to Arctic Monkeys.

          • Swanky

            Aha! Thank you for the anecdote and for solving that mystery.

        • La Fold

          Bloody disqus messing with me!

      • La Fold

        why would anyone vote this comment down?

  • Mynydd

    What’s a Brit?

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Must repeat the line concocted by CognitiveResistence elsewhere (it’s that good):

    “STAY WITH US SCOTLAND exclaims Bowie from the united states via someone else.”

  • laurence

    Is The Speccy running some form of competition at the moment for the most ludicrously named scribbler? ‘Digby Warde-Aldam’ and ‘Igor Toronyi-Lalic’. Come on. Did you ask Thomas Pynchon to come up with these or did someone return from a three bottle lunch and fall headlong into his keyboard?

    • Swanky

      These are the fat-cat elites of tomorrow, Laurence. Or rather, they’re here today…. I pity the poor chap called Bob Jones. Or Bill Smith. Or John Potts. They’re obviously going nowhere in life, and I know the feeling….

      • laurence

        Hello, Swanky. I suspect that they are unpaid interns. Mere et pere will be picking up the tabs whilst their oddly named progeny churn out Moran-lite piffle on their MacBook Pros for other London-locked tosspots.

    • gerontius

      I sort of assumed that Igor Toronyi-Lalic was an anagram of something or other. Dunno what – couldn’t be bothered – probably very witty.

  • Bert3000

    I saw about ten minutes because somone insisted on putting the television on. It was incredibly bad.