Tonight it’s the annual Brit Awards, which will doubtless prove to be a gala evening of music, laughter and hearty back-slapping. With Ant and Dec back as hosts and performances from megastars like Madonna and Paloma Faith, there’s plenty for music fans to get excited about. And, if we’re lucky, maybe something unexpected will happen this evening to get headline-writers in a lather tomorrow…
You see, the Brits are notorious for throwing up all manner of surprises. From Chumbawamba hurling a bucket of water over John Prescott to Robbie Williams requesting a fist-fight with Liam Gallagher, there’s scarcely been a Brits ceremony devoid of incident.
Though perhaps that’s just to be expected; after all, being a (free) booze-filled night out for a pack of musicians, you’d be mad to assume that everything at the Brits would go off according to plan. And thank goodness for that, because those unscripted elements are what make the Brits special.
So, in no particular order, here are some of our favourite controversial Brits moments, preserved for ever, as it were, in YouTube-tinted amber.
Jarvis v Jacko
Michael Jackson’s ten-minute performance of Earth Song promised to be the highlight of the 1996 Brit Awards, though evidently not in the eyes of wiry Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, who took exception to Jacko’s cod-messiah persona and coachload of singing children. He invaded the stage, waggling his backside around and nippily evading the King of Pop’s burly henchmen, in the process becoming the toast of the ceremony. Melody Maker were so impressed, they called for Jarvis to be knighted…
KLF, ENT, GUN
Nothing could stop art-pop juggernaut the KLF in the early 1990s. They sold absolutely truckloads of singles during their brief existence. Nominated for best British group at the 1992 Brits, the band opted to defy expectations and perform a heavy metal version of one of their hits with the band Extreme Noise Terror. If ENT’s wailing guitars and grunted vocals hadn’t shocked the audience enough, frontman Bill Drummond produced a machine gun towards the end of the performance and fired a volley of blanks into the audience.
The odd couple
If it isn’t the nominees and performers playing merry hell on the night, you can bet your bottom dollar that something else will go awry. In 1988 the Brits producers inexplicably decided to pair Sam Fox with Mick Fleetwood as the ceremony’s hosts. Never mind the fact that pink-haired, minuscule Fox and lanky, lugubrious Fleetwood looked every bit the odd couple, the show’s running order and autocue appeared to go completely to pot throughout the evening. Acts were announced at random, VT segments forgotten and a panicked Sam Fox resorted to bellowing ‘whoop’ again and again, presumably in the hope that blind enthusiasm might disguise the fact that neither she nor Fleetwood had a clue what was going on. An utter mess, you can watch the whole thing on YouTube…
Hospitality at the Brits is notoriously lavish, so the occasional faux pas wrought by the demon drink is pretty much par for the course. However, in 2000 DJ Brandon Block had put a pretty sizable dent in the event’s stash of booze, causing him to invade the stage unannounced, scuffle with Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood and be hauled off, soaked in lager, by thick-necked security men. Still, as he remarked after the event, that’s rock ‘n’ roll for you.
Flying the flag
In 1997 the Spice Girls were at the top of their game, having taken up residence on a million teenage bedroom walls since bursting onto the scene the previous year. Their performance at the ’97 Brits would have been a talking point whether or not Geri had worn that dress. Yes, bedecked in little more than a Union Jack and a pair of black knickers, Geri’s on-stage attire, or lack thereof, dropped more than a few jaws and set the nation’s pulse racing. Some thought it indecent, others daring, but no one’s ever forgotten that particular frock…
Acceptance speech at the read.. oh
Had your Brit Award winner’s speech ready since you were old enough to hold a shampoo bottle? Well remember, there may not be time for all of it – although if you swear, they’ll definitely catch that bit. As proven by Adele in 2012…