There was never a golden age of the Brits

"The Brits were never a night of rock n’ roll chaos any more than a birthday party at the Hard Rock Café makes you Pete Doherty", says Jonathan Holmes

If there is anything more tiresome than having to sit through the entire Brit Awards, it’s people moaning that they have lost their bite. Where is Jarvis Cocker invading the stage to annoy Michael Jackson? Where’s Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress? Where’s Chumbawamba?


But the truth is, the Brits were never a night of rock n’ roll chaos any more than a birthday party at the Hard Rock Café makes you Pete Doherty. You’re not remembering a golden age of music: you’re remembering your life back when you were young and happy. You’re remembering five guys in jackets with guitars. Talk of its chaotic heyday sound like a dad dropping his son off at university.

“God we had fun back then… staying up late, drinking too much and you should have seen the hair! Anything could happen, literally anything. Someone could pour water over a politician, or the autocue could fail.

“We listened to a lot of Oasis. Or Blur. Or was it Massive Attack?”

Surely if you want cultural insurrection, a televised chicken-dinner-and-free-bar awards show –sponsored by a credit card– isn’t the right place to look. The Brits are forever associated with ‘Cool Britannia’, an idiotic swagger that leads inevitably to the Millennium Dome.

The idea that music has got more boring forgets that Simply Red triumphed two years in a row. Let’s look at the most successful Brits acts, helpfully provided by Wikipedia.

Robbie ‘Rudebox’ Williams is the king of the Brits. And hey kids! Look! It’s Dido! Matching the Beatles!

And this is how it should be. There is nothing inherently wrong with reflecting the music people actually buy. We no longer have Top of the Pops and, with the rise of the Internet and recommendation software, we’re all trapped in our own personal echo chambers, only listening to what an algorithm has told us we will enjoy.

We’ve lost those weird neutral zones, where offbeat and mainstream music eye each other warily across the room. Without a reminder of what real, actual people (see: your father) enjoy, we’re all going to disappear up our own Spotify playlists.


The Brits were never really about chaos caused by drunk pop stars or “sticking it to the man”. They were a circus in the best possible sense: fun for the whole family.