Arctic Monkeys had enough rock swagger for the whole room, opening the show with a blistering set complete with initials aflame and a lightly seared James Corden. I loved Alex Turner’s duck’s arse quiff and gold jacket. He also gives by far the coolest acceptance speeches (although let’s be honest, he doesn’t have much competition in terms of character in modern pop). He was jaundiced-looking and gurning by the second speech but still managed a poetic rumination on rock’s cyclical resurgence “that rock and roll, eh? You can’t keep it down” and signed off with “invoice me for the mic” before dropping it into the crowd. That’s more like the Brits chaotic heyday. You could say the speech got a bit pompous and contrived but he’s enough swagger and tunes to pull it off.
Prince was in a fedora princing about with his usual entourage of beautiful women. Katie Perry performed with a neon Egyptian setting which looked cool, it’s just a shame she can’t sing. There was a tune in there somewhere wanting to get out but she was not the woman to do it. Lily Allen looked wicked- loved the neon green/yellow dip dye, so striking with her jet black hair and the dress of a similar colour. She was a bit awkward to watch though, didn’t know what she was doing and she always speaks in this jaw-jutting way that makes me think she’s really bratty or coked up (or both). Beyonce looked like a shimmery diva mermaid in her sea-green sequins but I thought her voice was a little tired sounding.
Lorde rightly won Best International Female. It’s hard not to warm to her- never have two “e”s put in unexpected places been so effective (save for Bez’s antics back in the day perhaps). She’s only 17 and she’s got these roaring tunes and quietly devastating lyrics. Most acts have neither let alone both.
Aluna Francis of AlunaGeorge put in an appearance in a chic yet sexy sheer white outfit, one of my favourites of the night. I love her girlish voice that doesn’t suit her strong face – her band’s album is my favourite of the moment. Ellie Goulding won Best British Female and performed. I loved her when she first came out, she’s got an incredible voice but her second crop of songs just didn’t resonate with me (too mainstream perhaps?) and I always find her dancing in bra and pants weird- it doesn’t suit her. Young Ella Eyre, however, provided a masterclass in how to be acrobatic in the most precarious of outfits: high kicking about in a latex catsuit slashed to the bellybutton in her performance with Bastille and Rudimental. Impressive. She was like a ripped-voiced Catwoman. The poor guy from Bastille unwisely tried to have a sing off with her and cracked his voice, as you’d expect. Her voice is so chunky that it distracts from the fact that Waiting All Night only has one lyric repeated throughout the song.
One Direction won Best Video and the Global Success award (I think specially created for them last year?). Thing is with them- they try to do this edgy, womanising thing to be rock and roll but you can tell at heart they’re deeply conservative and really care what people think. That’s obviously what’s brought them success but it’s also what prevents them from ever being cool.
David Bowie won Best British Male. “You didn’t think he was actually gonna be here did you?” Noel Gallagher scoffed and introduced his “representative on earth” Kate Moss. She sailed on stage in a vintage rabbit playsuit that Bowie had worn and read his speech about rabbits in a drifty way and struggled to know where to speak until Noel pointed out the mic in her hand to her. A representative with a tenuous link to earth.
Pharrell and Nile Rodgers closed the show. Pharrell’s voice is sweeeeet and love “Happyyyyy” but he was wearing that stupid yogi bear hat again and called London Manchester. Bit of a muted closer.
All in all a good show I thought. Best performance (in every sense) goes to the Arctic Monkeys. Though word to the wise: if you drink and do so much coke that you start to look a little yellow and sweaty, that is not a good sign. Long live rock n roll eh?