This year’s awards season has left a lot to be desired. But to hand it to the hosts of each, it's hard to muster energy and create a sense of celebration when audiences are either absent altogether, or socially distanced and masked to the nines. It came as little surprise that both the Grammys and the Oscars had their lowest ratings in history. And then came the BRITS. There were murmurs of excitement, of course, because 4,000 people, the majority of whom were frontline workers, had been invited to attend. Post lateral flow tests, the promise of no masks and no social distancing was irresistible. Live music! Crowds! Sweaty bodies! More, more, more.
Naturally Harry stole the sartorial show, in a retro statement suit from Gucci's latest, much-hyped collaboration with Balenciaga. Styled with the same bamboo-handled handbag seen on the catwalk, his deliciously deft blurring of gender boundaries continues apace. Oh, and we almost forgot – he also took home his first solo Brit award on the night: Best British Single for "Watermelon Sugar".
Elton John + Years & Years. Yes, you read that right. The Years & Years frontman, and star of Channel’s 4's harrowing hit It’s A Sin, Olly Alexander, teamed up with living legend Elton John to perform a raucous, sexed-up version of the Pet Shop Boys’ "It's A Sin", complete with drag queens dancing under confetti storms. All proceeds from the single will go to the Elton John’s AIDS Foundation.
It was a historic night for women, who took home women took home 85% of the mixed-gender awards. Arlo Parks won Breakthrough Artist, LA-based trio Haim (dressed head to toe, achingly chic, in The Row) won Best International Group (the first all-female group to do so in nearly two decades, following Destiny’s Child’s 2002 win). Griff won Rising Star, Dua Lipa scooped Best Album and Best Female Solo Artist and Billie Eilish, following that VOGUE cover, was duly awarded Best International Female. Impeccably dressed, Taylor Swift became the first woman to win Global Icon. And last but not least, Little Mix took home the award for Best British Group award. The first ever female band to win, the trio delivered a poignant acceptance speech, speaking out about how difficult it is to be a woman in the music industry because of sexism and misogyny, going on to dedicate the award to those that came before them, from the Spice Girls, the Sugababes, All Saints and Girls Aloud.
Watch some of the most powerful acceptance speeches here:
Nominated in three categories, Dua Lipa took home two awards. One for Best Album for Future Nostalgia, the other for Best Female Solo Artist, dedicating it to Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, who died trying to rescue a woman who fell from London Bridge in April. Paying homage to one of her favourite former stars Amy Winehouse, the singer not only sported Winehouse's signature beehive, but a punkish Vivienne Westwood mini dress that was reminiscent of the yellow ensemble she wore to the same awards back in 2007. Her performance, set against an acid-bright reimagining of a tube carriage, was as electric as the disco-inspired album released in March 2020 and brought us out of the doldrums.
Opening the ceremony with an explosion of joyous optimism, from a barge on the River Thames, Coldplay performed their new sci-fi themed single "Higher Power". Set to fireworks and jaw-dropping holograms, the British band bought a bit more time on the scene, before being resigned to the likes of Radio 2.
Appearing via video link, our most beloved FLOTUS Michelle Obama appeared, to honour The Weeknd with the Best International Male award. "He's made his impact not just on stage and in our earbuds, he's also donated millions to causes like COVID relief and Black Lives Matter," Obama said. "He's helped feed those displaced by violence in Ethiopia, he's funded assistance for survivors of the explosion in Lebanon, so let's just say, in a tough year, he's provided a light that's pretty blinding and given us all a reason to dance."
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