Friday, February 22, 2008

The Brits: never again

The Brits. Honestly, why do I still watch this, when I could be doing something more spiritually nourishing, like punching myself in the face? It must be some notion that I still have, somewhere deep inside, that pop can still thrill, move, delight and transport. On the evidence of this parade of mediocrities, I must be wrong.

It’s been easy the last five years, since Australia doesn’t show the Brits. They have the ARIAs which, despite being on a much smaller scale and having a worrying tendency to give multiple awards to Missy Higgins, at least has no global aspirations. Every second of this year’s ceremony scream the organizers desperation to be cool and edgy. And then they tell us that the award for Best British Live Band has been voted for by listeners to Radio 2. Fine and rounded citizens though I’m sure they are, Radio 2 listeners perhaps aren’t representative of those gig-goers who’ll happily be doused in the guitarist’s coke-adulterated sweat just to catch a possibly seminal event, or at least a rousing one. Sure enough, Take That get the award. Fine. They’re not the problem.

Sharon Osbourne. Britain, why?

The Brits School. Half the winners gave shout-outs to the kids in the front rows, which were deservingly stuffed with current students. What is the Brits School? Is this the future of British music we have to look forward to? Seems the only achievement of note is its ability to teach its students the perfect glottal stop. And what’s with Adele? Her song is OK, pretty good even. But are we that desperate for more Amy that we’re going to canonize a singer who, on the evidence of her segment of the Mark Ronson medley, seemed to have wandered in off the street?

Talking of Winehouse, she was literally the only good bit. Happily, she got two bites at the cherry. She couldn’t stand still and looked hugely nervous, like it was her first time on stage: skirt hitching, hair-twiddling, hopping around like a kid. But the voice: like she’d been singing for a hundred years. There was something thrilling about “Valerie”, as she seemed to be stunt-singing her way around the melody, without ever looking like she was about to crash. Adele, Kate, Leona et al can only dream.

But it says something that the best bit of the evening was a medley of old songs. The only other good thing, apart from Amy and the end, was that I missed Mika opening the show with his “Grace Kelly”.


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