I know it’s no groundbreaking opinion but I really did find last night’s Brit Awards a ghastly watch. Maybe it was the guests sozzled off free champagne. Maybe it was that every gag felt a bit too obvious. Or maybe it’s because one of the Monkeys should have stayed in the Arctic. Either way, it all felt pretty laboured.
In his final year as presenter, James Corden put on a brave face but if I’m honest it felt like he was lurching from one awkward moment to the next. From his toe-curling selfie with Prince to the now-annual snog he shares with Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Nick Grimshaw, the Gavin & Stacey funnyman did a good job, but it wasn’t great – and great is what’s needed to lift this sorry state of affairs.
That’s not to say the calibre of stars attending was anything to sniff at. In addition to the parade of British chart toppers – Ellie Goulding, Jessie J, Bastille, to name a few – there was a stellar showing from across the pond. Global superstars Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Pharrell Williams all took to the stage while Lorde and Kylie Minogue represented Down Under. So why did it all feel so flat? Is it that the UK can’t handle major awards ceremonies?
Well, no. That was easily disproved last weekend when Hollywood’s finest descended on London for the Bafta Awards. Held at the Royal Opera House and hosted by Stephen Fry, the ceremony felt worthy of its star-studded audience. Just four days later, the ingredients were largely the same, so why did the Brits feel like Bafta’s poorer cousin?
To start with, the venue. Remember the days when the Brits were a smaller, more atmospheric affair? Those ’90s years when Jarvis Cocker bared his bottom and Geri cavorted around in the Union Jack. Ever since it upgraded to the O2 fishbowl back in 2011, the ceremony’s lost all sense of intimacy. Nowadays you have to squint just to make out the cheap seats at the top.
But besides a woeful lack of character, what really struck me last night was the guests themselves. The acceptance speeches were largely crass. Try comparing best British single winners Rudimental’s “make some noise” to Cate Blanchett’s moving tribute to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman after scooping the best actress Bafta last Sunday – or rather don’t because there’s no comparison.
Then there were the shameful plugs: presenter Katy Perry just couldn’t resist a shout out for her upcoming tour while Lorde’s best international female win was a “priceless surprise” (more like a thinly-veiled MasterCard reference). As Corden floated across the celeb-packed tables, his luck didn’t improve with One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson telling Justin Bieber to “keep doing what you’re doing”. Yawn.
But all of the above paled into insignificance compared to the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. The frontman’s hideously indulgent riff on rock ‘n’ roll during his album of the year acceptance speech had his bandmates physically cringing in the background as he ruminated on the “cyclical nature of the universe in which it exists”. Just a taster of the self-important drivel he came out with before dropping the mic with a very un-rock ‘n’ roll promise bosses could “invoice me if you need to”.
Luckily that was the very worst of it, but the whole night felt to me like a chore to watch. I simply wasn’t entertained. There were no rip-roaringly funny moments – everything felt painfully contrived, albeit a bit hit-and-miss thanks to the bottomless glasses of booze on tap. There was simply no class to the event and although I’m fairly confident that’s not what Brits bosses were aiming at, for me an awards ceremony of its supposed calibre should feel worthy of the music it’s celebrating. Last night certainly didn’t.
What did you think? Were you hooked from the moment the Arctic Monkeys took to their flame-filled stage? Or did you find your fingers hovering over the remote control? We want to know what you made of last night’s ceremony so leave your thoughts in the comments box below…