Monday 23rd February 2015
This year sees the 35th British Music Awards ceremony since it first began back in 1977. Becoming an annual event since 1982, there are many different approaches to the way the programme has been delivered to us over the years. With the announcement of a new Chairman for 2015, I look back over the history of the ceremony and wonder how this might help the future of the Brit Awards.
If you’re a long-time fan then you might remember when the awards were no longer broadcast live, but instead pre-recorded the night before. This had to be a sticking point for the show as fans have always enjoyed living in the moment with their idols. Whether that’s being at a gig, watching a live performance, listening to an interview, a radio show, or a queuing for a record signing; fans always have and always will enjoy being part of it all. So what good was it watching an awards ceremony when the acts were already at home polishing their shiny new gong whilst we were still waiting to find out who were the winners? When the nominations are announced you want to be on the edge of your sofa hoping and praying, just as much as those acts are sitting tight to their seats with relaxed faces but clenched cheeks until that name is announced. Fortunately in 2007 the awards ceremony came back to our screens live, and has been broadcast live ever since.
The ceremony has always been held in London at venues such as The Royal Albert Hall, Alexandra Palace, and Earls Court to name a few; with the previous 4 years being held at the O2 Arena. With the venue changes comes a layout change, and what has always stood out for me is how the corporate bodies have got closer to the stage and the fans further away. Looking back to the 1980’s, watching the Brit Awards was like watching a sit down episode of Top of the Pops. I mean, you could practically reach out and touch Whitney Houston when she sang ‘How Will I Know’ back in 1986. During the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the party just got bigger and louder. We were in the mist of award ceremonies, with the likes of the Smash Hits Awards, Mercury Music Prize, and the MOBO Awards, all broadcast on our TV screen each year. Notably at the Brit Awards during this era, fans were allowed right up to the barrier right in front of the stage. They would scream and shout, sing and dance along with the performances and even take banners.
There is no doubting that the O2 Arena is a great music venue. It’s a huge building, which can hold up to 20,000 people. Which is great if you can get hold of floor or lower tier tickets, otherwise it’s up in the rafters, which can be pretty daunting if you’re not a fan of heights. Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is that if you watch videos from the Brit Awards over the past 4 years, that’s exactly where you will find the audience. Whilst on the ground floor you’ll find lots of tables for artists and their management team with a small standing area, but hardly ever anyone is up and dancing. In fact, you only ever see them get out their seats to clap for the winner or receive an award. This really stood out for me back in 2013 when the Arctic Monkeys opened up the show with a cracking performance of ‘R U Mine’. Did these people realise that it’s hard enough to even get a ticket for one of their gigs let alone even see them open up an awards ceremony? Justin Timberlake later performed his hit ‘Mirrors’ which saw him come down a long walk way through the crowd, singing in to the camera as he passed through. In the background were tables filled with people just turning their heads as he came by; there was no audience interaction at all.
In 2011 there was no award given for the Outstanding Contribution to Music for the first time in the history of the Brit Awards. This was a shock, as in my opinion it’s one of the key moments of the evening and elements to the show. The award made a comeback in 2012 and was awarded to Blur, but later in 2013 and 2014 it was a no show again. I’m pleased to see that the award will be given out again this year, and I’m hopeful that it’s here to stay as there are so many musicians worthy of this award year after year.
There’s nothing I love more than live music and a good music awards ceremony, and with them now becoming few and far between in the UK, I’m desperate for the Brit Awards to soldier on. Over the years they have given us many memorable moments, such as Rick Astley not getting to his award in time before The Who started their performance, Freddie Mercury’s final public appearance, Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress and Mel C telling Liam Gallagher to “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”. This wasn’t the first time Liam Gallagher had to eat his words either as a few years later Robbie Williams challenged him to a televised fight in a ring. Also, it’s not only the artists causing a stir between each other, as in 2013 Adele flipped the bird to The Brits themselves when she got cut off from her acceptance speech so Blur could start their set.
So what exactly could 2015 have in store? Well we already know that the event will be presented by Ant and Dec, and that the Outstanding Achievement to Music award will be going to James Bay. We even know what’s going to be inside the goodie bags of the presenters and the winners (yes that’s actually a thing).
What we also know is that we welcomed new Chairman of The Brits, Max Lousada, the Warner Music UK CEO. He will be overseeing the strategy and committee who are responsible for the creative direction, award categories, line up and voting. He was quoted saying “The BRITs is the UK’s biggest showcase for music talent and one of the most anticipated events in the global entertainment calendar, so to lead the team behind it is both a great honour and an exciting challenge”.
My hopes for this year are that we really are going to see flair in creativity, especially as Max Lousada also has new stage designers joining him. With the technological advancements over the years, we really have seen some fantastic stage set-ups which is one thing that I know will continue. However, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this year will come back with a bang and really showcase one of the biggest nights on the UK’s music awards calendar and not loose anymore of its momentum.