Slop

Cosmic Slop #101: BRIT Awards 2017 – pop’s sad wank

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Wed 22 February, 2017

Back for his annual plea deal punishment Shaun Ponsonby breaks down the 2017 Brit Awards. 

Originally published on Getintothis

Why do I agree to do this every year?

Since Cosmic Slop began, I have been volunteering to write a piece about the BRITS on the night. I constantly type away for three hours whilst watching the world’s biggest stars prove why I don’t like them. I wouldn’t mind, but I think it is giving me arthritis.

This year was in trouble before it started. Michael Buble was supposed to host, but he pulled out due to his son’s sickness, so I’m going to show a bit of compassion. Replacing is Emma Willis, who is married to Ringo from Busted, and Dermot O’ Leary, the guy ITV turn to when Ant & Dec can’t be arsed.

You could tell they were last minute replacements. Where in past years there has been something resembling an opening, like last year’s weird PG-rated Roman orgy, this year Willis and O’Leary just stood on the roof of the O2 Arena, saying hello and somehow resisting the urge to fling themselves off to avoid going through with the charade.

As with all award shows, there are three main components to the BRIT Awards that remains unchanged no matter how much they try to make it seem like they are doing anything new or remotely interesting. I am sure you will be delighted, and possibly even a little bit aroused, to hear that I have broken this down with some headings in bold. Yes, that’s right; BOLD.

Awards

It was nice to see that they learned from last year’s debacle and decided to nominate living black people over dead white people this time around. The Best British Female Artist award didn’t even include Adele in favour of Nao and Lianne LaHavas. Emeli Sande won the award, and brought her sister on stage, who appears to have far more charisma than her famous sister, who just read off names like one of those interviews Bruce Willis does where he clearly can’t be arsed.

Best British Group was notable by how boring most of the bands were (sorry, Radiohead fans). But, I will admit that it was nice that when The 1975 won, the person doing the voice over named the other band members, who are usually stuck inside some kind of metaphorical cupboard. Matt Healy giving an inspirational speech was surely some kind of Dadaist performance art given that he himself has never said anything of any particular significance.

It was surprising to find out that Zane Lowe was still a thing, and not all that surprising that David Bowie won the Best British Male award he was there to present. Michael C Hall from Dexter accepted the award on behalf of Bowie, who lazily failed to record an in absentia message. Aside from the fact that the speed with which Hall made it to the stage suggested that having the nominations was merely a formality, something tells me that Bowie would prefer the award went to a young artist doing great things now that is relevant to today’s audience, as opposed to a dead Granddad. A genius, brilliant dead Granddad, but a dead Granddad all the same.

Every year since they started doing it, I have been genuinely angry at the Global Success Award, because it is totally moot. Anyone who is likely to win it will already be honoured several times throughout the night. This year  Adele won it for the second consecutive year, because Adele doesn’t have enough awards. It feels like this award, even more than all the others, exists to award the industry, rather than the artists. “Look how well we did, pushing this beige bollocks onto people who don’t like art to challenge them in any way.”

Video Artist of the Year is a great way to get the show trending. You knew One Direction would win because they were the only fan base rabid enough to vote so many times, even though they haven’t been a thing for a while. It was pretty obvious that the BRITS just shoved them in there to ensure a bigger trend, especially given that they were going up against former member Zayn. It was still funny when only one member turned up to collect though – there was literally only one Direction on stage (*insert rimshot*)

I’m surprised there were so many nominations for Best British Single, given that they were basically all gash. I am going to shock you by saying I would have given it to Little Mix too, purely because it wasn’t pretentious bollocks with about 16 collaborators. Although it took them so long to get to the podium that I think they looped the song a few times. I went for a piss, came back and they were still walking. Took the bins out, still walking. For the love of God, there should be a time limit on this shit. If you don’t get there on time, they give the award to a vendor outside the auditorium.

The offensive part, though, was that the BRITS Icon award went to Robbie Williams. Last year was the second time they had this award, and it went posthumously to David Bowie, and I don’t think anyone can question that. That the third award this year it goes to Robbie Williams is basically satire. I am this close to shouting “FAKE NEWS!” at the screen.

I have written a past Slop in which I defend Robbie Williams, and have argued that he is at least vaguely entertaining, especially when compared to the current crop of boring popsters who seem hell bent on proving what magnificent artistes they are.

But, loyal readers (hi, Steve) by giving the third ever BRITS Icon award to Robbie Williams, you are telling us that Robbie Williams is the third most important and/or iconic artist in British music history. That you gave it to Bowie last year proves that you are willing to give it to deceased artists too, so that is literally every other artist in British history that has been passed over for the guy who ripped his skin off in the Rock DJ video.

So, move over The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Led Zeppelin, Joe Strummer, Freddie Mercury, Black Sabbath, The Smiths, Elvis Costello, The Cure, Van Morrison, George Michael, Iron Maiden, Dusty Springfield, Pet Shop Boys, Human League and Lemmy. You just can’t match the iconic majesty of Robbie fucking Williams. Possibly just to guarantee his performance to play into ITV‘s Loose Women demographic.

Next year: Atomic Kitten.

The one positive consequence here is that not-Sir Gary Barlow must be fuming.

Awkward Segues

Oh, how I love the awkward segues. Be still, my beating heart. Stifled award show banter is one of the most satisfying things in the world. Sadly, this year, even this was off the mark, give or take a house or two walking past modern day Odd Couple Jonathan Ross and Naomi Campbell.

There is none more awkward than a presenting team that has just been shoved together in haste, and Dermot and Emma were definitely that. Throughout the show, it seemed like they really, really couldn’t be arsed. Like they were just killing time until their inevitable demise – and I should know the signs, that is basically how I live my life.

Epitomising the forced charisma between presenters was Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw. That should work as a partnership, but everyone is such a dull, professional bore these days that the only way they can bring any life to it is by trying too bloody hard, which Grimshaw at least absolutely did. He said that his Radio 1 listeners voted for whatever fucking award he was there to present, so judging by the latest RAJAR figures, about six people must have voted.

They didn’t do as many weird interviews in the crowd as usual, which would have been a relief if it wasn’t for the fact that the only one they did was a horribly forced interview with Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, a dull chair of a man who told a non-anecdote about his cat that no-one cared about.

There is always a chunk of Simon Cowell at the BRITS, which obviously has nothing to do with his massive ITV contract. This time they actually got him up on stage, and he obviously had no idea what was going on – and said as much. He was the quintessential doddery old man, and it made me hopeful that he might have dementia and finally fuck off for good. In fact, I am willing to sort a fund, a new charitable cause, in which we campaign to actively give Simon Cowell dementia. Surely the science is available?

Finally, something I found vaguely funny for a bit, but became increasingly annoying was whoever was reading the information whilst the winners walked up to the podium. She sounded like she was learning to read for the first time. If that was the case, though, she did a great job under the circumstances.

Performances

The performances didn’t actually start off too bad. Little Mix carried on like the Queens no-one has ever said they are, before performing Shout Out To My Ex, which might well be the ultimate lazy millennial anthem for the Twitter generation. In terms of out-and-out kiddie pop, it wasn’t a bad opening, I guess.

I feel like at some point in the future, Bruno Mars‘ performance tonight will go down as the precise moment his schtick got old. I always find myself feeling the same way whenever Mars shakes his hips. I’m sure he intends it to be sexy, but it comes across more like a kid being cute and copying their favourite pop star’s moves. Gotta love all that heavily choreographed spontaneity, though.

Surely I’m not the only one who feels like The 1975 are being forced down my throat, and I’m being forced to take it like the bitch I am right now? They performed The Sound, like they always do, and had the criticisms of them that appeared in the song’s video flash on the screen, some of which may have ripped from the pages of Cosmic Slop. It must have been extremely confusing for the vast majority of the population, who neither know nor care about their video.

I actually do like the song to be fair, in a “they will use this to advertise BBC Radio 1 events” kind of way. Healy is awful, of course, just mumbling into the mike like he had Jaffa Cakes in his mouth. I don’t know if he actually likes Jaffa Cakes (why would I?), but I want to encourage everyone reading this to send him boxes and boxes of them – if you are at a festival they are playing, throw Jaffa Cakes on stage. Tell his fans to sculpt statues of him out of Jaffa Cakes. I am determined to make this a thing.

When they performed at the BBC Music Awards back in December, he demanded the crowd jump up and down, and they didn’t. So this time, the director played it safe and had a close up of the faux gospel choir backing them. Smart move.

Before the George Michael tribute, they had a little In Memoriam section, in which some of the world’s great music stars’ names came up on the screen – including Denise Matthews, AKA Prince protege Vanity, which was unexpected, as was the fact that she was listed as a “songwriter“, which she wasn’t. Though it probably looked better than “One of the chicks Prince was banging that he tried to turn into a pop star“.

It was actually kind of nice to see Andrew Ridgley, to be honest. He started by reading an extremely heartfelt, personal speech, but when Pepsi and Shirley joined in, it started to resemble The Frost Report‘s classic Class Sketch with John Cleese and The Two Ronnies, albeit more mournful in tone. I wrote that line just as everyone started crying, and felt bad. Luckily, I’m a heartless bastard with no friends to lose, so I opted to keep it in.

Chris Martin performed the official BRITS tribute, playing A Different Corner. It was a slight improvement from Adele‘s insomuch as it was actually a ballad performed in ballad form, as opposed to Adele‘s slowed down dance song. One nearly expected Martin to do a slowed down version of Outside. He still wasn’t good though, and at one point there was a morbid moment where George appeared on the screen singing the song, which renders the question; why not just show a fucking George Michael performance? Especially given how badly the video on the screens were edited, with a random as jizz inclusion of Prince saying “Peace to George Michael“, at a time when both men were fighting the industry people sitting in the expensive seats at the O2.

He was back a bit later for a secret performance they bigged up all night between Coldplay and The Chainsmokers – the awful selfie people. It ended up being not much of a collaboration, rather just Coldplay with a couple of better looking people at the side. At one point, Martin jumped into the crowd, where he surely must have felt his age amongst all the kids in the crowd who were clearly about nine. Have we learned nothing from Operation Yewtree, people?

At the Grammys last week, Katy Perry performed in a set that started as Pixar‘s Up, transitioned into the mirror scene from Enter The Dragon and finished in the tornado from The Wizard of Oz. 

Here, it was like she went for the Aldi equivalent, until two big skeleton puppets came on stage, which was either a reference to The Nightmare Before Christmas, or it was supposed to represent Donald Trump and Theresa May. If the latter, it was probably the vaguest political commentary since that time Dale Winton shat himself on the National Lottery in protest to NHS cuts.

Skepta was a relief. It was nice to get some actual personality on stage, despite the constant muted audio, which is probably another lame attempt to get the show trending. Personally, I was more disappointed that he didn’t re-enact his video for All Over The House, an actual porn film featuring Skepta performing in front of two noted porn stars, complete with penetration. That would get the show trending. Halfway through, there was an audio recording of a pretty racist and classist complaint about the time Kanye grouped a bunch of British grime artists together during his performance in 2015. That Skepta was the only performance tonight with fire is a massive CHECK MATE.

It all came to a crushing defeat of a finale when Robbie Williams ended with a bad vocal performance even for him, but I tend to cut him some slack for having a sense of his own ridiculousness. Sadly, though, he elected to play a bunch of songs from his new album that nobody wants to hear, so it was quite the anti-climax, but the anti-climax the show deserved.

The Sloppy Conclusion

This is the third time I have done a post-BRITS Slop, and it was absolutely the worst one. By comparison, last year’s show was a rollercoaster of excitement, both sexual and non-sexual. I say it every year, but there is a reason we still talk about Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood. It’s not just that it was a bad TV moment – it was in some way remotely interesting.

It is in no way entertaining to see pampered pop stars slapping each other on the back for a job well done without a hitch, especially when said pop stars have the charisma of the most boring of salads. Was the show longer than usual? It seemed like it was interminable. Like they thought they had such an exciting programme in store that they needed to add 30 minutes of so we could see the glory of Ed Sheeran attempting to meld bro country with grime – two genres which belong together about as much as I do hanging around with my fellow man.

The worst part, though, was how out of touch it still is, not truly learning the lessons from last years debacle. After all the debate surrounding the lack of inclusion for black artists, and grime specifically, it seems like they feel they can get away with it just by nominating a couple of them. Almost like token inclusions. Other than Emeli Sande, the other black winners were Drake, Beyonce and A Tribe Called Quest, all of whom were literally read out as a list by three fuckers I’ve never heard of who were there to promote the celebrity circle jerk of an after party show they were presenting on ITV2.   

Once again, the cardinal sin? Its boring. It’s like a sad wank, when you just go through with it because you have got nothing better to do, so you might as well. Next year, I demand that you do something radical. People being famous doesn’t make them interesting or entertaining by default. Look at Adrian Chiles. He’s as interesting as Father Stone, the boring priest from Father Ted.

And that is the level of intrigue that most of these fuckers are giving us. We have officially entered the Adrian Chiles era of pop. I hope you’re satisfied, the industry.

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