Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Complete Waste of Everybody's Time 

Despite last year's awards teetering on the brink of relevancy - mainly by virtue of giving Scissor Sisters a couple of prizes, it has to be said - the Brits have always seemed somewhat shy of rewarding artists who people might actually care or get excited about. It's always been a ceremony which almost seems to pride itself on being middle of the road with a finger so far from the pulse it's attempting to get a reading from your armpit, but this year it really managed to excel itself in sheer pointlessness. All the danger signs where there, from the shortlist to the fact that Chris Evans, a man who's last brush with the zeitgeist came in the days when Ocean Colour Scene could sell records, was hosting the event, but even then we didn't expect the event to be as utterly soul destroying and depressing as it turned out to be. How bad was it? Let's take a look shall we...
After an introductory sequence following Chris as he arrives for the show, with a couple of security guards carrying cases containing some Brit Awards - who'd have thought that some cheap plastic covered in silver foil would have required such protection - the show begins and, after Chris bigs up the awards in a desperate attempt to convince an audience wondering what's on the other side that it's going to be worth staying tuned, the whole event kicks off, in the loosest possible interpretation of the phrase with Kaiser Chiefs doing I Predict a Riot, despite the fact that I Predict an Evening Filled with Canapes and Polite, yet Awkward Dancing From Various Middle Management Types would have been a bit more appropriate. The more we see of Ricky Kaiser Chief the more convinced we are that someone should take him in hand and introduce him to the concept of vitamin supplements. These day's he's looking less human, more zombie and it's becoming really off putting. We're beginning to think that he's sold his soul to the devil in exchange for the gift of Catchy Though Mildly Irritating Indie Pop mastery.
Pop Act
  • James Blunt
  • Katie Melua
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Madonna
  • Westlife
First award of the night and it's for the Best Pop Act. It's presented by Harry Hill and, in a hilarious jape, when he reads out the name of the winner, instead of reading out the name of someone who could in any way be construed as a deserving winner, he tells the hushed and expectant audience that James Blunt is the best pop act in the world right now. Unfortunately the joke fell a bit flat as, rather than gales of laughter echoing around the arena, applause rang out and James went up to claim the bloody prize without even the grace to look embarrassed and ashamed. Regardless of what you think about James' music - although the fact that it's a painful abomination and anyone who likes it has all the musical taste of a mushroom isn't open for debate - there is no way on earth James could be categorised as a pop act. Even his biggest fan, in the unlikely event of them having developed beyond grunting into the rudiments of speech along with the ability to form a cogent argument, would not claim him as a pop artist. Even if you take the genre in its most literal sense, that of being popular, he still doesn't deserve to be included as while, yes, he has sold a lot of records, he's sold them to people who buy their music at supermarkets along with their bread and milk, which doesn't indicate popularity, more just cunning positioning near the checkout. We can only hope that he gets recalled to the army and is sent off to a war zone as soon as possible. Certainly any insurgents would have a good reason for wanting to kill him now.
British Urban Act
  • Craig David
  • Dizzee Rascal
  • Kano
  • Lemar
  • Ms Dynamite
Presenting the prize for British Urban Act was Jamelia, who some of you may remember for... well, some of you may remember her, that's all. Taking this particular gong was the incredibly edgy and street, umm, Lemar. This prize was voted for by the viewers of MTV Base, so it's probably safe to assume that the channel isn't quite getting the viewing cross section it's aiming towards, unless they really are targeting middle aged women who find that Lemar's 'soulful' voice is just perfect for getting through the school run.
For no apparent reason whatsoever, Prince, then turned up to perform a medley of 4 songs in a somewhat lackluster style, but given the lack of effort put into any other part of the show, he was clearly just giving the organisers what he thought they wanted. We were briefly drawn towards the percussionist girl as she was quite pretty and was wearing a nice dress, but our interest soon waned when she decided to end the set performing a drum solo, something which pours cold water on the ardour of even the most passionate suitor. Prince himself still looks identical to how he did 20 years ago which, coupled with the lack of invention, freshness and excitement in the rest of the show has begun to lead us to believe that we're watching a show from the past and not, as we've been led to believe, 2006.
International Breakthrough Act
  • Arcade Fire
  • Daniel Powter
  • Jack Johnson
  • John Legend
  • Pussycat Dolls
Presented by Beth Orton, who didn't exactly make the most of her moment in the spotlight, choosing to offer the audience nothing more than "The nominations are/And the winner is" observations from her prime spot on the podium, the International Breakthrough prize went to Jack Johnson, the sort of man who even a tunneling machine would find boring.
International Male Solo Artist
  • Beck
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Jack Johnson
  • John Legend
  • Kanye West
Taking time out from trying to convince the American courts that he definitely knew nothing about all those bags of cocaine found at his house, even if his defence of "Why would I have phoned the police if I'd known about them" somewhat falls down when the prosecution responds, "Why, yes, phoning the police when they have a large haul of illegal narcotics in their position is rather stupid, isn't it. You'd have to be on drugs to do such a thing.", Boy George appeared to hand out the International Male prize. Kanye West won this one, the Brits briefly flirting with fashion, even if Kanye himself wasn't, taking to the stage wearing a jacket last seen adorning a majorette and a pair of shades apparently bought from a service station on the trip down to London.
Next up to try and entertain a crowd who, if the enthusiasm they've shown so far is any judge, would be entertained by a dog sleeping are Coldplay, appearing in silhouette while a digital counter counts down the moment until the song, Square One, kicks off. Of course, this being a Coldplay song, 'kicking off' is a relative term and here refers to the moment the drums kick in. Unfortunately the countdown doesn't continue for the whole song - though it does return at the end - as it's always nice to know exactly how long you have to endure a Coldplay song for.
British Rock Act
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Hard-Fi
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • Kasabian
  • Oasis
Tamsin Grieg appeared to present the Best British Rock Act. She was chosen, she reckons, because she people think she looks like Sharleen Spiteri. "I don't mind!", she called, despite the fact that she's just said she doesn't mind being likened to a hatchet faced harridian. This went to the Kaiser Chiefs, despite the fact that they are to rock what chalk is to cheese. They were joined for this by some random bloke brandishing a water bottle with some sort of orange springy thing attatched to the top, declaring "I've got my own award! It's better than yours!". This, we believe, is what the Brits consider to be controversy and appointment television.
British Breakthrough Act
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • James Blunt
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • KT Tunstall
  • Magic Numbers
The IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd, doing his best impression of Dylan Moran was the lucky person who got to announce the Arctic Monkeys as the winners of the Best British Breakthrough prize. Because the Arctic Monkeys are so anti-establishment and in it for the music, they didn't turn up to collect the prize themselves, preferring to, err, make some money for themselves by playing a gig in Portsmouth instead. Someone from We Are Scientists gave their acceptance speech for them. What wags!
Having already won one prize tonight, James Blunt takes to the stage to demonstrate to everyone watching, as if they weren't already aware of it, exactly why him winning an award of any sort of description is a travesty of untold proportions. The backdrop for his performance featured a number of women who, rather than listen to James caterwaul his way through You're Beautiful for the umpteenth time, had thrown themselves into a deep lake and were actively trying to drown themselves.
British Live Act
  • Coldplay
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • KT Tunstall
  • Oasis
Thandie Newton, who is apparently an international movie star but who we've never heard of - which admittedly doesn't say much as if a film doesn't feature Lindsay Lohan we tend not to consider it worth watching - was the 'celebrity' handing out the Best Live Act prize. This went to the Kaiser Chiefs who bounded up the stage with all the enthusiasm of a puppy dog, or Chris Moyles on being told there's a free buffet.
Dressed in an unflattering 'rock chick' outfit which even Avril Lavigne would have turned down and starting off in the midst of a crowd of fans, all of whom seemed more keen on trying to undo her top than enjoying the performance, Kelly Clarkson was next on stage to half heartedly strut her stuff through Since You've Been Gone. She didn't exactly set the stage on fire, more vaguely warmed the toilet seat of disappointment.
British Male Solo Artist
  • Antony and the Johnsons
  • Ian Brown
  • James Blunt
  • Robbie Williams
  • Will Young
Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips was given the depressing job of presenting James Blunt with his second prize of the night, though rather than stabbing him to death with the pointy bit, Wayne kept his council on this matter and instead asked us to "Remember that George Bush is an idiot". Equally idiotic and supported by a large number of people for no apparent reason is James, who was collecting the prize for Best British Male, despite the fact that we know American girls more deserving of the title than he. "I've been accused so many times of singing like a girl", he said, in a voice which made you want to insert shards of glass under his fingernails, "that it's nice to be given best male. I'll try singing more like a male in the future". And we hope he does. The specific male we have in mind is Marcell Marceau.
British Single
  • Coldplay - Speed Of Sound
  • James Blunt - You're Beautiful
  • Shayne Ward - That's My Goal
  • Sugababes - Push The Button
  • Tony Christie ft Peter Kay - (Is This The Way To) Amarillo
Appropriately enough it was A-Ha's Morton Harkett, who seems intent on turning a once great pop band into a piss poor Coldplay, who was on hand to present this prize to Coldplay for Speed of Sound. Chris Martin, who's normally all humble and "Oh, we really don't deserve this" - and he's quite right to hold that view as well - when his band receives prizes, decided to display a more arrogant streak this time, declaring "We'd like to agree with you for giving us this award". Whether he was so keen to agree with public opinion when this single was originally released and the public overwhelmingly decided that the Crazy Frog, the world's most irritating concept - aside from Lee Ryan, was a more palatable option is unclear.
Next up to keep the corporate sponsors entertained until the next tray of cocktail sausages comes round was KT Tunstall, wearing the most horrible pair of black and white striped trousers we've ever seen, which served mainly to give her the look of an injured Zebra, which we doubt was what she was aiming towards. As she steadfastly avoided injecting any sort of passion or energy into her performance of Suddenly I See, some majorettes dressed in equally unflattering half white, half black tights came on to the stage. The mismatched hosiery look was previously tried by The 411 and it didn't work then, either. To finish things off, KT went to the back of the stage and indulged in a drum solo, bringing the drum solo total for the evening to two. Or two too many, as it's otherwise known.
International Group
  • Arcade Fire
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Green Day
  • U2
  • White Stripes
Kelly Osbourne, who still seems to be carving out a remarkable career despite having no discernible talent other than being the daughter of a famous person, was giving the complicated task of announcing the Best International Group, though clearly there was some sort of mistake as she read out the winner of the Most Irritating Group of Faux Punks Who Are Clearly Far Too Old to Be Acting Like Snotty Teenagers instead, giving the prize to Green Day.
British Group
  • Coldplay
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Gorillaz
  • Hard-Fi
  • Kaiser Chiefs
Claiming their third award of the night from Debbie Harry, the Kaiser Chiefs took to the stage to collect the prize for Best British Group and were joined by Vic Reeves, who used to be funny, for the occasion. "I'm the ambassador for Leeds", he claimed, "This is the only band in the world". A statement which even a cursory glance through the music magazine of your choice would quickly prove to be bollocks.
Kanye West, backed by an orchestra made up entirely of girls in nice dresses, was next to try and inject some life into the proceedings and, thankfully, he succeeded, although being more entertaining than what had previously been on the stage was a task as tricky as being drier than the Atlantic Ocean. Running through a medley of Diamonds are From Sierra Leone and Golddigga, Kanye was also joined by 76 trombones girls dressed in bikinis and painted gold, which is an interesting look if you can get away with it, but one perhaps not best suited for the somewhat chillier climes of Britain. Kanye ended his set being raised up on a hydraulic platform, an act which would have been more impressive had the platform raised him slightly higher than shin height.
British Female Solo Artist
  • Charlotte Church
  • Kate Bush
  • Katie Melua
  • KT Tunstall
  • Natasha Bedingfield
KT Tunstall received her Best British Female prize from Jo Whiley, who had been dragged through a hedge backwards prior to presenting this award. "They've got this one so right", said Jo, seemingly oblivious to the fact that not only was Charlotte Church on the shortlist, but Rachel Stevens didn't even get a nomination. KT herself gave a speech which centred heavily on a "Sisters are doing it for themselves" theme. "Ladies, disregard your limits!", she called as she left the stage, advice which should probably be ignored if you've just had a couple of pints and are considering whether to drive home or not.
Next up was Jack Johnson doing Better When We're Together. Frankly we got bored at this point and started doing the Sudoku on Teletext. By the time he'd finished the first verse we'd got two grids and 4 lines completed and were well on the way to solving the thing by the time he sauntered pointlessly towards the song's conclusion.
International Female Solo Artist
  • Bjork
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Madonna
  • Mariah Carey
  • Missy Elliot
Well they had to give Madonna something to make sure she turned up, didn't they. (We imagine that had Kelly Clarkson's tried something similar she would have been greeted with a shrug of the shoulders and an "Oh well, then") Neil Tennant was on hand to present her with the Best International Female prize, quipping "Well, I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing". Arf! Madge herself gave a speech saying that it was ironic to be given this prize as she's been influenced by so many British bands - although we can't quite work out exactly why she thinks that's ironic - before going on to reel off various bands which have clearly been no influence on her whatsoever and were compiled by some flunky who spent ten minutes in HMV looking at the tracklisting for a "Best of British" compilation CD.
International Album
  • Arcade Fire - Funeral
  • Green Day - American Idiot
  • Kanye West - Late Registration
  • Madonna - Confessions On A Dancefloor
  • U2 - How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Because the real thing was presumably too expensive and busy spending her time at a party which was actually worth going along to, Chantelle Houghton look-a-like Paris Hilton was drafted in to present the prize for Best International Album, which went to Green Day for American Idiot, an album released over a year ago and, indeed, one which they were promoting at last year's Brit Awards. Do you ever get the feeling they're not even trying any more?
Equally lacking in a try hard attitude were Gorillaz, whose performance of Dirty Harry, who eschewed the exciting 3D projections they used at the Grammys, instead opting for the band to appear on distinctly flat and boring screens for the performance. A children's choir was included, but children's choirs are equally flat and boring - unless you're a parent of one of the kids - so there wasn't much to hold anyone's attention here. Even Damon's own mother would have found her mind turning towards the kettle and a nice cup of tea
MasterCard British Album
  • Coldplay - X & Y
  • Gorillaz - Demon Days
  • James Blunt - Back To Bedlam
  • Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
  • Kate Bush - Aerial
Madonna, after taking time out for a brief argument with Guy, came back on stage to announce the winner of the Best British Album prize. Much like the winner itself, there were no surprises here as Coldplay's X & Y took the honours. "You won't see us for a long time", said Chris Martin as he accepted the prize, leading to cheers from everyone with even a mild interest in good music and a dramatic increase in the suicide rates amongst EMI shareholders.
And so, finally, the whole sorry affair came to a dispiriting, yet entirely appropriate, end with Ray Winstone turning up to present Paul Weller with his Lifetime Achievement Award for services above and beyond the call of duty to dull, boring, chugga-chugga guitar music. Deciding that the audience hadn't quite been punished enough, not only did he give a monosyllabic speech, he was then called upon to give an equally monotone run through of some of his greatest hits, including Town Called Malice, From the Floorboards Up and Changing Man. As he performed - although performing is a bit strong given that Paul doesn't really do showmanship - the backdrop showed various images of Paul throughout his career, allowing you to see how the grumpy old man we see today had changed from being the grumpy young man of his youth. While the TV audience was fortunate that they could simply switch over their TV's at this point and not endure the spectacle of the Weller at full gurning throttle, the audience in the arena were forced to dance awkwardly as they waited for him to finish, at which point the doors would be unlocked and they would all finally be free to run off and pretend that this whole sorry even had never happened. Much like we're going to do now.