|The BRIT Awards|
|2015 BRIT Awards|
|Awarded for||Excellence in music|
|Presented by||British Phonographic Industry|
The Brit Awards (sometimes stylised as the BRIT Awards; often simply called the Brits) are the British Phonographic Industry's annual pop music awards, and the British equivalent of the American Grammy Awards. The name was originally a shortened form of "British", "Britain" or "Britannia" (in the early days the awards were sponsored by Britannia Music Club), but subsequently became a backronym for British Record Industry Trusts Show. In addition, an equivalent awards ceremony for classical music, called the Classic Brit Awards, is held each May. Robbie Williams holds the record for the most Brit Awards, 12 as a solo artist and another five as part of Take That.
The awards began in 1977 as part of the commemoration of the Queen's Silver Jubilee and as an annual event in 1982 under the auspices of the British record industry's trade association, the BPI. In 1989 they were renamed the Brit Awards. MasterCard has been the long-time sponsor of the event.
The Brit Awards were broadcast live until 1989, when Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood hosted a widely criticised show in which little went as rehearsed. In subsequent years, the event was recorded and broadcast the following night. From 2007, the Brit Awards reverted to a live broadcast on British television, on 14 February on ITV. In that year, comedian Russell Brand was presenter and three awards were dropped from the ceremony: Best British Rock Act, Best British Urban Act and Best Pop Act. On 18 February 2009, the venue for the BRITs was once again the Earls Court, London. The Brit Awards were held at The O2 in London for the first time in 2011.
- 1 Ceremonies
- 2 Notable moments
- 2.1 Electricians' strike (1987)
- 2.2 Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood (1989)
- 2.3 Freddie Mercury's final public appearance (1990)
- 2.4 The KLF (1992)
- 2.5 Michael Jackson and Jarvis Cocker (1996)
- 2.6 Oasis and Blur rivalry (1996)
- 2.7 Geri Halliwell's Union Jack dress (1997)
- 2.8 Chumbawamba and John Prescott (1998)
- 2.9 Belle and Sebastian (1999)
- 2.10 Ronnie Wood and Brandon Block confrontation (2000)
- 2.11 Geri Halliwell Vs. The Spice Girls (2000)
- 2.12 Russell Brand (2007)
- 2.13 Vic Reeves and Sharon Osbourne (2008)
- 2.14 Girls Aloud's performance of "The Promise" (2009)
- 2.15 Adele's performance of "Someone like You" (2011)
- 2.16 Adele speech cut short (2012)
- 2.17 David Bowie enters Scottish independence debate (2014)
- 2.18 Kanye West's performance of "All Day" (2015)
- 2.19 Madonna's fall on stage (2015)
- 3 Categories
- 4 Performances
- 5 Most successful acts
- 6 Viewing figures
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The first awards ceremony was in 1977, as "The BRITish Record Industry BRITannia Awards", to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee and was televised by Thames Television. There have been 35 editions to date (with no ceremonies held between 1978 and 1981). The 2015 BRIT Awards was held on 25 February 2015.
The 1988 BPI Awards was the first of the ceremonies to be broadcast on live television. The BBC had previously broadcast the ceremony from 1985, with the shows from 1982 to 1984 not broadcast on television. BBC continued to broadcast the renamed BRIT Awards, live in 1989 and pre-recorded from 1990 to 1992.
Electricians' strike (1987)
In 1987 the BPI Awards ceremony was held in the Great Room at the Grosvenor House Hotel. At the time there was a BBC electricians' strike in effect, and the organisers decided to use a non-TV events production company, called Upfront, to manage the show. Despite the show being picketed, the event was transmitted as intended. For a while the outdoor broadcast scanner was rocked on its wheels by the protesters and they managed to shut off the power to one of the big GE video screen projectors. Upfront was then asked to organise the following year and persuaded the BPI to move the event to a larger venue, starting the trend that continues to this day, albeit at Earls Court, and with a different production company (MJK Productions).
Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood (1989)
In 1989, the ceremony was broadcast live and presented by Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood and singer Samantha Fox. The inexperience of the hosts, an ineffective autocue and little preparation combined to create an unprofessional show that was poorly received. The hosts continually got their lines mixed up, a pre-recorded message from Michael Jackson was never transmitted and several star guests arrived late on-stage or at the wrong time, such as Boy George in place of The Four Tops.
Freddie Mercury's final public appearance (1990)
The 1990 awards ceremony saw the last public appearance of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Queen appeared at the ceremony to receive the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Mercury (who had been suffering from AIDS since 1987 but had not disclosed it to the public) did not make a speech, as Brian May did the talking on behalf of the other members, but his gaunt appearance was noticeable.
The KLF (1992)
In 1992, dance/art band The KLF were awarded Best British Group (shared with Simply Red) and were booked to open the show. In an attempt to hijack the event, the duo collaborated with grindcore metal band Extreme Noise Terror to perform a death metal version of the dance song "3 a.m. Eternal" that prompted conductor Sir Georg Solti to walk out in disgust. The performance ended with Bill Drummond firing blanks from a vintage machine gun over the audience and KLF publicist/announcer Scott Piering stating, "Ladies and gentlemen, The KLF have now left the music business," the performance indeed marking the end of the duo's musical career, releasing only several one-off performances and one live performance afterhand. Producers of the show then refused to let a motorcycle courier collect the award on behalf of the band. Later, guests arriving for an after show party witnessed the band dump a dead sheep outside the venue with the message "I died for ewe – bon appetit" tied around its waist, whilst their Brit Award was reportedly found buried in a field near Stonehenge in 1993.
Michael Jackson and Jarvis Cocker (1996)
In 1996, Michael Jackson was given a special Artist of a Generation award. At the ceremony he accompanied his single "Earth Song" with a stage show, culminating with Jackson as a 'Christ-like figure' surrounded by children. Jarvis Cocker, of the band Pulp, mounted the stage in what he would later claim as protest at this portion of the performance. Cocker ran across the stage, lifting his shirt and pointing his (clothed) backside in Jackson's direction. Cocker was subsequently questioned by the police on suspicion of causing injury towards three of the children in Jackson's performance, who were now on stage.
Oasis and Blur rivalry (1996)
1996 saw the height of a well-documented feud between Oasis and fellow Britpop band Blur. The differing styles of the bands, coupled with their prominence within the Britpop movement, led the British media to seize upon the rivalry between the bands. Both factions played along, with the Gallaghers taunting Blur at the 1996 BRIT Awards by singing a rendition of "Parklife" when they collected their "Best British Band" award (with Liam changing the lyrics to "Shite-life").
Geri Halliwell's Union Jack dress (1997)
Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell, wore a Union Jack dress. Spicemania was at its height in the UK and the Spice Girls had just cracked the US as well, reaching number 1 with their debut single and album. Halliwell was originally going to wear an all-black dress, but she thought it was too boring so her sister sewed on a Union Jack tea-towel, with a 'peace' sign on the back. The now iconic red, white and blue mini-dress was worn during the Spice Girls' performance of their number one song "Who Do You Think You Are". In 1998 she sold her dress in a charity auction to Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas for a record £41,320, giving Halliwell the Guinness World Record for the most expensive piece of pop star clothing ever sold.
In 2010, the performance in the Union Jack dress won Most Memorable Performance of 30 Years at the Brit Awards, and topped a poll of the 10 most iconic dresses of the last 50 years. The dress has become synonymous with the Spice Girls and "girl power" and an enduring image of Cool Britannia.
Chumbawamba and John Prescott (1998)
In 1998, Danbert Nobacon of politically active band Chumbawamba threw a bucket of iced water over Labour cabinet minister John Prescott. Despite apologies on behalf of the band from EMI Europe, Chumbawamba were unrepentant, claiming "If John Prescott has the nerve to turn up at events like the Brit Awards in a vain attempt to make Labour seem cool and trendy, then he deserves all we can throw at him."
Belle and Sebastian (1999)
In 1999, indie band Belle & Sebastian were nominated for Best British Newcomers, despite having released three albums before the 1999 Awards. The award was sponsored by Radio One and voted for online by their listeners. At the time, Steps were arguably Britain's biggest boy/girl pop group and were also nominated. Despite this, the award was won by Belle & Sebastian. On the Saturday after the awards, a story appeared in the press alleging that the group had rigged the vote in their favour, encouraging students from two universities to vote online. However, fans argued that the band had a predominantly large student following, that band member Isobel Campbell had attended one of the universities in question, and in particular, the award ought to be given on artistic merit as opposed to popularity or CD sales.
Ronnie Wood and Brandon Block confrontation (2000)
Dance DJ Brandon Block was told by his friends that he had won an award and had been summoned to the stage to collect it. Because of his advanced state of intoxication he believed them and walked on to the stage, eventually ending up next to a bemused Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and actress Thora Birch, who were about to present the award for Best Soundtrack Album. After Block was removed from the stage by security, Wood aimed an insult in his direction. A series of insults were then traded between the two, both of which were audible through the stage microphone, causing claims that the whole event may have been staged. Wood then threw his drink into Block's face, and the DJ was ejected from the event. Some time after the incident, Block claimed that he had subsequently apologised to Wood for his behaviour, and Wood had merely brushed it off.
Geri Halliwell Vs. The Spice Girls (2000)
The Spice Girls were set to receive the Outstanding Contribution award at the 2000 Brit awards, reportedly to mark their dominance of the music scene in the past decade. There was much media speculation before and even during the event as to whether or not former Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell would accept the award with the four remaining members of the group. On the night, however, Halliwell declined to join her former band mates and instead ensured front page coverage the following day by performing her solo number 1 single "Bag It Up" straddling a pole between a pair of giant inflatable legs.
Russell Brand (2007)
Some controversy was caused by the host of the 2007 Awards ceremony, comedian Russell Brand, who made several quips relating to news stories of the time including singer Robbie Williams' entering rehab for addiction to prescription drugs, the Queen's 'naughty bits' and a fatal friendly fire incident involving a British soldier killed by American armed forces in Iraq. ITV received over 300 complaint calls from viewers. He would again instigate controversy the following year at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.
Vic Reeves and Sharon Osbourne (2008)
After Vic Reeves appeared to forget which award he was presenting, Sharon Osbourne attempted to wrestle the microphone from him, insisted he was drunk and called him a "pissed bastard". She proceeded to make the full announcement herself. The next day it was reported that Reeves was not intoxicated and was hurt by Osbourne's behaviour. The incident has since been ascribed to an autocue malfunction, but Reeves said in his defence that he was trying to read the autocue screen, but he couldn't read it because Osbourne was pushing him out of the way.
Girls Aloud's performance of "The Promise" (2009)
British reality group, Girls Aloud, marked their first ever performance at the 2009 ceremony, by performing their single "The Promise". The performance saw the members, including Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts, Sarah Harding and Kimberley Walsh appear as though they were naked, with their modesty being covered by pink feathers. This performance was nominated in the 2010 ceremony for the "BRITs Hits 30 – Best Live Performance at the BRIT Awards", alongside Oasis and The Who, which the Spice Girls eventually went on to win.
Adele's performance of "Someone like You" (2011)
Adele performed her song "Someone like You" at the 2011 Brits with only a piano accompanying her. Her emotional performance was received with a standing ovation at the O2 Arena and the video received 450 million views on YouTube. The performance launched "Someone Like You" 46 spots up the UK charts to number one, and in the process, made Adele the first artist in the UK since The Beatles to have two top five singles and two top five albums at the same time. The performance had all lights down and focused Adele and her piano.
Adele speech cut short (2012)
Adele won the award for 'British Album of the Year', widely regarded as the most important award. Less than half a minute into her acceptance speech, host James Corden was forced to cut Adele off in order to introduce Blur who were due to perform an eleven-minute set as they had won the 'Outstanding Contribution to Music' award and the ceremony was over-running. Adele was visibly annoyed and proceeded to raise her middle finger and the producers of the show came under fire on Twitter for the decision. Following the incident Adele said "I got cut off during my speech for Best Album and I flung the middle finger. But that finger was to the suits at the BRIT Awards, not to my fans". Adele received an apology from the show's organisers, who stated; "We send our deepest apologies to Adele that her big moment was cut short. We don't want this to undermine her incredible achievement in winning our night's biggest award. It tops off what's been an incredible year for her." Due to the tight schedule, only three of the five songs Blur played were broadcast on ITV.
David Bowie enters Scottish independence debate (2014)
The influential 67-year-old musician David Bowie became the oldest winner to date of the British Male Solo Artist award and used his acceptance speech, delivered in his absence by Kate Moss, to urge Scotland to remain part of the UK in the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum. His unusual intervention in British politics prompted a significant reaction.
Kanye West's performance of "All Day" (2015)
On the date of the 2015 BRIT Awards, Kanye West was announced as a surprise performer following reports of Rihanna performing at the ceremony proved to be false. He performed his new single "All Day" during the live broadcast for the very first time: large sections of the performance were muted by ITV due to explicit language, causing outrage from viewers at home who felt they couldn't enjoy the performance.
Madonna's fall on stage (2015)
During Madonna's performance of "Living for Love", she walked onstage wearing an oversized cape. When standing on stairs situated on the stage, the cape's cord failed to separate, so when Madonna's backing dancer pulled the cape behind her, she fell down the stairs and noticeably hit the stage hard. She paused momentarily as her backing music continued, before she managed to separate herself from the cape and then continued performing. In an interview on The Jonathan Ross Show, Madonna blamed her fall on a wardrobe malfunction as her cape had been tied too tightly so it could not be unfastened in time, before adding: "I had a little bit of whiplash, I smacked the back of my head. And I had a man standing over me with a flashlight until about 3am to make sure I was compos mentis. I know how to fall, I have fallen off my horse many times."
- British Female Solo Artist
- British Male Solo Artist
- British Breakthrough Act
- British Group
- BRITs Global Success
- Critics' Choice
- British Producer of the Year
- British Single of the Year
- British Album of the Year
- International Male Solo Artist
- International Female Solo Artist
- International Group
Take That have performed the most number of ceremonies, performing seven times. Band member Robbie Williams has performed at six ceremonies, tied for the second most number of appearances alongside Coldplay. The Pet Shop Boys, Spice Girls, Tom Jones, Kylie Minogue, Rihanna and Adele have all performed three times.
Most successful acts
|British acts||Number of awards|
|Robbie Williams (5 with Take That)||17|
|George Michael (3 with Wham!)|
|Freddie Mercury (3 with Queen; 2 posthumous)|
|Elton John (1 Icon)|
|Manic Street Preachers|
|International acts||Number of awards|
|Year||Air date||Official ratings
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