pink-performance-brit-award
pink-performance-brit-award

Cosmic Slop #129: BRITS 2019 – a bored wank at a funeral

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By Shaun Ponsonby
Wed 20 February, 2019

Shaun Ponsonby continues his community service for that time he swiped a shoehorn from a cobbler by watching this year’s BRIT Awards so you don’t have to. He wasn’t happy about it. 

Urrrgh.

URRRRRRRGGGGGGHHH!

I can’t be arsed. Five years. FIVE FUCKING YEARS I’ve been breaking down this beige, Ready Salted flavoured snoozefest for you, and every single one of those years have been my most dreaded night of the year. I was skinny the first time I did this, but every time this date comes around I overeat and make myself ill .

I’m not even sure why I still do it. I mean, it is true that I really don’t have anything better to do. I didn’t even get dressed today. I should probably at least get a shower as I have a nasty rash on my inner thigh that is starting to look a bit nasty, and I have a feeling that it’s just a slice of pepperoni that fell of a pizza and has just got stuck.

The show seems to be trying to actively add more self-effacing comedy to the proceedings, which makes my job increasingly difficult. At several points, host Jack Whitehall said exactly what I was going to, or even bettered what I was capable of. When trying to find a way to sum up how bland George Ezra is, Whitehall referred to him as “the Milky Bar kid has all grown up”.  I guess that’s why he actually gets paid for his work.

Thankfully not all of the comedy worked. The opening was an extended sketch that did what everyone else has been doing for the last few weeks; taking the piss out of Fyre Festival. Yeah, because that didn’t get boring after a week, did it? It’s still hilarious to  make jokes about that thing that I would like to point out that Cosmic Slop was making fun of 18 months before all of you, when we declared festivals as the dead celebrities of 2017.

But, alas, as always the proceedings at the BRITS can be separated into three categories. Let’s look at them individually…

Awards

The 1975 came away with two awards – Best British Album and Best British Group – that definitely weren’t a condition of their performance. Or maybe it was, given that there was a TV advert congratulating them that aired hours before the broadcast.

I actually really used to hate them, but they have grown on me more as time has gone on.  Not that I’d ever buy a ticket to see them or anything. They’re still kinda annoyingly pretentious without being all that interesting. In fact, the voice over ran out of interesting trivia about them as they walked up to the podium and basically just started listing their tour dates.

The nominations for British Group was interesting as they included Arctic Monkeys, who last year released an album that literally everybody except for magazines who had already lined up interviews with them thought was pure gash. The 1975’s Matt Healy thanked them for still being a great band in 2019 during one of the speeches where he didn’t let the rest of the band speak and made them stand at the back like spare stationary on an office desk. It sounded sarcastic.

There were interesting nominations all-round. Male Solo Artist (won by George Ezra) included Aphex Twin, who I genuinely thought perished in the great jam jar tragedy of 2007. I also like when they throw in a jazz artist that will never win in a million years in a lame attempt for credibility. Soz, Kamasi Washington.

Obviously that award should have gone to the chair whose name was mistakenly called.

Meanwhile, Florence + The Machine were nominated for Female Solo Artist, eventually won by Jorja Smith. Have I been wrong for all these years? Is Florence + The Machine a person and not a band? Has Florence’s surname actually been Andthemachine for all these years? Can somebody shed some light on this? Please? It’s genuine confusing.

British Breakthrough had Tom Walker win. I saw him live once. He was alright, but that’s about it. I mean, I wasn’t offended by him. He kinda looks like he could be RagNBone Man’s brother. In fact, he seems like RagNBone Man for people who like RagNBone Man. Although, he has significantly more personality. Well, I’m assuming. He was a bit shouty, so it might just be that.

There was a weird bit where they just breezed through the international nominations because none of them could be arsed showing up. If you love Beyonce and Jay-Z, Drake and Ariana Grande, then you’d have loved seeing a 15 second video filmed on their iPhones.

Incidentally, Janelle Monae was also nominated for International Female and once again, like last week’s Grammy’s SHE WAS ROBBED AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO BOW DOWN AND JUST ADMIT THAT SHE IS AN ABSOLUTE Q.U.E.E.N. Not that I’m biased or anything.

There was another filmed message – this one from Ed Sheeran (or as Elton John called him last year, “Ed Sha-ran”). He won the Global Success Award for the second year running for the same album. Can we just stop giving Ed Sheeran awards, please? He’s not that good, devoid of personality, and he looks like he needs a wash.

That’s actually my main problem with him.  Not that he looks dirty, but that he is clearly attempting to model himself as down to Earth and working class. Stop it. Now. Ed Sheeran was born rich. His dad runs Sheeran Lock, an arts consultancy that has been hired by the royal family, the UN and the President of Nigeria. So stop pretending you’re a working class chip off the old block, Sheeran, you utter bell end.

Video of the Year has been voted for on Twitter during the show for the last few years, as they figured it was a decent way to get the show trending. That didn’t happen this year, possibly because One Direction have split up and they are ostensibly the only act with a fan base rabid enough to give a shit about such trivial things and vote in their thousands to ensure the trend.

But, judging by the reaction when The 1975 won Best Group over Little Mix, their fans easily could have taken that baton.  They won Video of the Year anyway, so whatevs. I will say that hearing such a thick Geordie accent from one of them was a breath of fresh air amongst all the middle class twerps who make up the crème de la milk of British pop’s top brass these days.

P!nk closed the show having won the Outstanding Contribution Award which hasn’t been given out for a few years. Oddly, she is the first international act to ever win it, which means that according to the BRITS, she is not only the greatest international act ever, but also superior to British acts who have never won it, including; Pink Floyd, The Human League, Black Sabbath, The Smiths, Rolling Stones, The Clash, The Cure, The Kinks, Lemmy, Kate Bush, Dusty Springfield, Elvis Costello and even 2003 Eurovision entrants Jemini.

The whole thing smacks of a deal.  Like guaranteeing that she will show up by throwing her an award. Like when Michael Jackson had them give him that silly, made up Artist of a Generation Award so that Jarvis Cocker could moon him during a cringe-worthy performance of Earth Song.

Whether or not she deserved it on merit is up to you, but her performance was certainly worthy. Which brings us nicely to…

Performances

Having Hugh Jackman open the show was puzzling. Although it is undeniable that The Greatest Showman soundtrack has been one of the big runaway successes of the last 12 months, having it open an out and out pop show meant it was as horribly out of place as I would be

Not stylistically, but because the performance actually had some fun showbiz glitz that reminded me at times of Marilyn Monroe’s Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend routine, and that the rest of the night was sorely missing. Yet although Jackman may be a fine actor, as a pop star he comes across like Michael Buble’s dad. Whitehall appeared halfway to do the handclaps from We Will Rock You for some reason, before back announcing Jackman as “Australia’s answer to Bradley Walsh.”

Hugh Jackman

I’ve heard that George Ezra was on stage, but I have seen no proof of this. All I saw was a giant, human-shaped beige fuzz where the star should be. I mean, does he even have a face? I, for one, have never seen it. You could replace him with a gate and be none the wiser. He is even more boring than Ed Sheeran. At least he has the good sense to be ginger caricature.

Bizarrely, he played Shotgun with the Hot 8 Brass Band. Seeing as Hot 8 have personality in abundance, the stage was frankly rescued from being a total vacuum. It also gave the otherwise “meh” song a cool New Orleans vibe that improved it by a million per cent.

Little Mix performed Woman Like Me with the utterly charming Ms Banks taking Nicki Minaj’s part. They seemed to be performing it during what looked like a Stonecutters meeting from The Simpsons episode Homer The Great. During Bank’s verse two of the Mixes decided to have a rest and lean on their backing dancers, but forgot to get back up in time for their next part. They were actually pretty good – not deserving of the hyperbole on Twitter, but definitely a step up from some of the other performances of the night, and they absolutely did not look out of their depth.

They also managed to utilise Katie Price‘s outfit from that time she tried to enter Eurovision.

The same can be said for The 1975. The one whose mum does Loose Women seemed to be walking down Sesame Street, and performed a song I’d never heard called Sincerity is Scary with an extended band.

I’d actually like The 1975 a lot more if it wasn’t for Healy. His pretentiousness coupled with his annoying voice, which often sounds like he’s just discovered that singing is a thing, actually zaps some life out of the otherwise well-crafted pop. I actually did like the song. I also like The Sound, Love Me, Chocolate and UGH!, even if the latter is also the noise I make whenever Healy opens his stupid gob to talk.

There’s usually a big collaborative performance at the BRITS, and tonight we were able to see this in the form of an extended tribute to the bafflingly successful producer and DJ Calvin Harris. He was at the centre of the performance, not doing much. Just kinda standing there pretending to DJ.

He was joined by three singers. The first was RagNBone Man, who was on a confusing set that appeared to be in the rainforest or something, but flanked by people break dancing in tracksuits in the snow. He didn’t move, except for a bit of dad dancing.

Then along came the dreaded Sam Smith. He started off in a box that I wish was hoisted over the River Thames for a month, David Blaine style. Realising how unpopular he is with the LGBTQ+ community for the awful things he says and does, he seems to be making a concerted effort to camp it up, performing Promises complete with the most unconvincing hip shakes since Britney Spears’ infamous performance at the 2007 VMA’s .But at least she had an excuse – she was out of it and going through the motions. He was actually trying. He was also singing completely out of tune and sounded like he had a mouthful of Jaffa Cakes. He even needed to bring on Winnie Harlow to act as a sort of female Bez so that there would be something approaching charisma on stage.  There were straight white girls saying he was sassy. SAM SMITH IS NOT SASSY. The whole thing was so, psychedelically, hypnotically terrible. I don’t like him.

Sam Smith? Sam SHIT more like. Amiright?

Thankfully, Dua Lipa came to save the day, beginning on what looked like the ending scene in The Who’s Tommy film. I’m not even sure if I like her. She was just a breath of fresh air In the middle of all that beige.

I was disappointed by Jorja Smith, who seemed to be trying to recreate Adele’s boring performance of Someone Like You from 2011, but instead of an understated dress, she seemed to be wearing an old Supremes outfit with some Christmas decorations cello taped around the top of it. She also missed a pretty important note and there seemed to be a weird line in the song about Tess Daly.

Jess Glynne – the secret love child of Diana Ross and Mick Hucknall – put in an incredibly nasally performance with scene stealer H.E.R. , who actually also had a bit of a Diana Ross wig situation going on. And in fact, given that I referenced The Supremes in the above paragraph, I actually just wondered out loud if I have an extreme and unhealthy obsession with Miss Ross. Anyhow, the performance saw dozens of women take their make-up off, possibly as a signal that all of this bland porridge was boring them and they just wanted to go home and get into bed, but more likely as some sort of commentary about us all being beautiful or some shit.

The big performer of the night was P!nk, who is apparently much bigger than I thought she was. I was scared that nobody would start their performance backstage and then make their way to the stage during the number, which has become a standard trope of awards show performances over the last few years. Thankfully, at the last moment, she managed to pip that one in there, so well done P!nk.

Actually, she outclassed everybody and I have nothing but good things to say about the performance itself. It was imaginative and staged beautifully. Some of the musical segues could have worked better, and I’m not the biggest fan of her music, but she certainly showed all the other soggy flannels how to perform.

Awkward Segues

As I said above, Whitehall was on form again, and made it difficult to make fun of the anything by making fun of it before any of us had the chance; pointing out the blandness of George Ezra and taking the piss out of Simon Cowell (always welcome).

He even declared his interview with Little Mix as “awkward” right in front of them, so it’s hard to judge him and he handled everything extremely well. It’s very annoying.

The interviews, as ever, were dull. Even the potential of some absolutely batshit tortured metaphor courtesy of 20th century philosopher, Matt Goss from Bros, was wasted. It was nice to see him lie about being thrilled with “the love we’ve received”. What love? People were taking the piss out of you for that documentary, Goss. I’m not surprised he didn’t get it, he didn’t seem to understand how to roll with Whitehall’s reference to Goss’ outrage at conkers goggles when he asked about people wearing protection.

There was also an interview with Canadian mop Shawn Mendes, in which Whitehall referenced his recent Calvin Klein underwear ad. Mendes pretended to be embarrassed, even though he knew full well that it would be brought up and he’s likely seen it a thousand times by now. Whitehall made a joke about “suspicious packages”, even though the suspicious thing about Mendes’ pictures was that there didn’t seem to be any package. Which I actually identify with, to be fair.

The award presenters were the usual mix of doddery (Nile Rodgers, who remained cool as fuck even as he struggled to find the autocue), lifeless (some footballer I don’t care about), desperate to be our friends (Clara Amfo), pretentious (Jared Leto, who decided to wear a massive necklace in lieu of a shirt) and bored (Liam Payne, who I don’t think has ever wanted to be anywhere he actually was in his life).

Sloppy Conclusions

They seemed to be taking a leaf out of this year’s Grammys book by ramping up the female presence, and that can only be a good thing. Indeed, most of the top performances of the night came from women too.  So, in that sense, there was a bit of a leap forward for the BRITS.

As is the tone. I’m not kidding, Jack Whitehall was carrying the show again. Not like Ant & Dec’s Shiturday morning shenanigans, or James Corden’s smug twattiness. Other than some lame backstage jokes that were needed for setting up the stage for some bigger productions, he did remarkably well. I don’t even particularly like him.

Part of me hopes he keeps the gig. If the show as a whole is going to be as boringly sterile as it was tonight, some self-effacing, music industry mocking humour – cheeky, but not evil, a la Terry Wogan on Eurovision – could keep making it bearable to watch. The BRITS is almost like a bored wank at a funeral, so all but admitting that on screen helps to make the time pass quicker.

Except, fuck that, because it makes my job harder. And apparently I want Diana Ross next year.