Thursday, 21 February 2013

BRIT Awards 2013: Reaction & Revolt

 
It’s early afternoon. Sitting in a fairly modest café - drinking my [first] intake of today’s caffeine - I am pulled back in a flounder of projected contamination that was the sight that unfolded last night. Though it’s been only 24 hours since it ended, the media (be it the mainstream, comical sort) have already given the 2013 BRIT Awards their seal of well-sought-for approval. Bravo, bravo! Encore, encore! Seriously, I’ve already seen about half a dozen television reports and walked past the front page of a fair few tabloids and it is, without question, as black and white detail-wise as the very ink that aligns the sheets: Olympic singer Emeli Sandé gets double gold (heh, see what we did there?); Ben Howard [who?] is the oh-so-deserved winner of two awards; he’ll do well just like all those other newcomers we hyped and then forgot about. Oh, and One Direction *insert screaming fangirls drowning out anything I might be saying here*. Woah woah woah, too fast; I’m going into overdrive...again. Perhaps I should slow down, and go over - for anyone who either missed, is interested, or simply has an admiration for online ranting - the delusional dismal debacle that was this year’s BRITs, in easy-to-digest (but still stomach bug-inducing) portions.

Straight off, Muse kicked off proceedings with their latest cash-in errr I mean single, Supremacy - Bellamy as always expressing his love for young orchestral musicians (no, not like that), even if his lips didn’t necessarily share said expression when singing the words alongside. Well, look on the bright side, that’ll put food on the table for those mid-20s violinist for a week - it’ll be the Jobcentre next week, though. James Corden, as always, delivering punchlines so stitch-inducing and witty it caused a massive inhalation of air. No trust me, it must have; I couldn’t even hear the laughter from my end. Thus, the first awards of the night are given: Best British Female goes to
Emeli Sandé - nothing for Jessie Ware I’m afraid, a man (two men rather) can hope but reality remains harsh I’m afraid - while Best British Breakthrough going to that guy who’s not Ed Sheeran or Bruno Mars, but sounds just like them. Time for another performance - before it’s time for a[nother] break - Robbie Williams making an entry, or rather no entry at all, by majestically appearing from the camoflage of geometric patterns he’s been hiding in. Admittedly, it's a nice visual play into the actual music, but that’s only because I never grow tired of geometric art and design. Still, gotta give them that - it's only fair.

Performances actually waver between the meh and meh-serably distasteful. Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift (dubstep and mediocre dancing likewise included), Mumford & Sons,
Emeli Sandé. Not exactly disgraceful, but neither did they merit anything that perhaps needed their own mention. It was all just ‘part of the package’ in the end - here’s a song, ok it’s done, next award - and while I can’t really say I enjoyed them, neither can I really complain when it is, ultimately, just part of the set-list. What I can complain about, however, is what Manufactured Boy Band #735E offered us in the form of ‘performance’. Question: How do you go about butchering not one, but two memorable songs of differing genres and combine them into one overly-indulgent, overly-produced three-minute excuse for a charity single? Answer: You get One Direction to do what they did last night. Now I don’t want this devolving into message board-esque action and reaction...but, for something of this scale, it can’t be helped.


This was perhaps the closest I got to verbally swearing, but my state induces me to lay low in depression and disgust, so anything aloud or physical remains an unlikely scenario. What was aloud however, was James Corden’s regular round-the-table discussion with some of the night’s special guests. Mercury Prize winners - bookie favourites and the band many will have deleted from their library purely for being too mainstream now - Alt-J were the artists at Corden’s disposal and to my disgust, Corden found the perfect opportunity to poke fun at the quartet’s lead singer and his respectable decision to not speak during interviews. 'You know what you should do, you should go and see Les Misérables...' Corden declares in his signature bloated grin, ‘...they don’t speak at all in that film y’know.’ For anyone who doesn’t get why I may not have taken a liking to that statement, it’s like telling a disabled person confined to a wheelchair to go to a football match because, at least there, everyone else is sitting down. Or suggesting to someone hoping to lose weight to go to Africa because, hey, the kids you see on the Oxfam adverts are doing well at not eating much either. But it doesn’t stop there, oh no. To give some spotlight to the winner of the Critics Choice Award, Tom Odell is now the unlucky soul sitting to Corden’s left. And to show his appreciation and admiation of Odell’s rise to fame, good old James turns to his right and interviews Emeli Sandé instead, asking her about her future and what she's going to be doing in the coming future - poor Tom meanwhile confined to an awkward smile and the viewers' peripheral vision. I never liked Corden prior to this night. And now, it looks like I never will.


 
Shall we lighten the mood with more awards? Yes, let’s...oh wait, no...hang on a sec. Best Male, presented by Ed Sheeran, goes again to Not Ed Sheeran - Ed Sheeran passing Not Ed Sheeran the award; so too the passing of the three-chord progression singer-songwriter torch is made. A notable choice of words if I do say so myself. Up next are Best Live Band which is bought/won by Coldplay (and not The Rolling Stones, whom many had speculated would win it), Chris Martin surprisingly not showing up to collect the spotted statue - too busy scrawling ‘FUCK THE POLICE’ all over his piano in luminescent marker pen, most likely. Best British Album goes to Mumford & Sons, leaving one MRD writer happy, and the other not so. I for one disregard it for its predictability and move coastily along. Best International Male, or Best American Male as it’s more commonly known, roles on through. The nominees: Bruce Springsteen, Jack White, Frank Ocean, Gotye- WOAH WOAH WOAH!! Hold the phone and stop the presses, a non-American artist in the category of international male?! This is breaking news ladies and gentlemen. Even if it is everyone’s [and mine included] favourite naked painted Belgian-Aussie, the title of International stands for just that, albeit one other country (or two). 


Despite the twitter hype and the Youtube views however, it’s Frank Ocean who scoops the award. Gentle, modest and with limited surprised, the creator of one of 2012’s best tracks gladly accepts the award and says goodnight. For that I respect him - well done Frank. Even more shocking, The Black Keys - who are still respected and praised by the lesser-mainstream press and music listeners, win Best International Group. Foo’s Dave Grohl picks up the award on their behalf - managing [somehow] to NOT mention Kurt Cobain in general banter, though does hint at work on the next Foo Fighters record. Best International Female unfortunately is still equally predictable and fully dominated by US artists. Lana Del Rey wins the award - I’m not sure whether it’s the original release of her debut, or the super-deluxe-legendary-diamond-special-collector’s edition that’s credited for the award, but even with that as unfortunate as it is, there’s one name that many viewers find the urge to run to their smartphones or desktops to start ranting and raving about. Before we know it, it’s Bonnie Bear Part 2: SOCIAL BOOGALOO! Once again, we here at MRD can only apologize to both the World and Cat Power for our country’s insolence.

Things are beginning to wrap up. You can cut the mixture of disdain and passive interest with a knife. We come to the Special Recognition Award, this year awarded not to an artist or band, but instead to War Child in commemoration of its 20th anniversary. A charity backed by artists in support of those caught in the crossfire of continuing conflict in the lesser known parts of the World, it’s a respectable and justifiable reason to raise awareness, though I’m not exactly sure the BRITs is the right choice of venue to spread the word. Along with the president of the War Child charity, that-guy-from-THE-Gorillaz Damon Albarn collect the award, even if the ex-Blur front-man looks a little uncomfortable in actually being there. Best Single turns out, predictably, to be the one that wasn't quite the biggest pay-off for wagered bets. Adele takes the trophy with Skyfall, the opening track to the the James Bond film of the same name - leading many to wonder whether it was the song that won it, or the fact she’s just Adele (like...y’know...COME ON! ADELE!). She appears on screen, a prerecorded brief message expressing her thanks and her assurance she hasn’t moved to America (yet), and is on her way back home. James Corden makes a quip about making sure the tape has actually finished, joking - for the forth or fifth time of the night - that he doesn’t want to cut her short again.

So with the Outstanding Contribution award being absent this year, the BRITs need to end the show on a high. And by ‘high’ I mean something that the majority of the show's audience will cheer over. So, that means ‘low’ to you and I. And like a FIFA Presidential vote, there’s one name and no competition, but the whole dressage and masquerade of a nominee presentation goes ahead anyway. It’s an award after all, and as we all know, album sales and statistics that have nothing to do with quality or creativity, should be made into a tasteful masturbatory flashing of images, right? RIGHT?! Well, Simon Cowell thinks so, and the BRITs are happy to oblige. Following an over-the-top fast-flow editing, screaming fans and flags denoting the country of success, One Direction pick up a Damien Hirst for themselves. Ten minutes later, the award is [un]officially renamed the One Direction Award For Outstanding Contribution to Corporate Marketing & Consumerism. I wouldn’t be surprised if that actually happened.
Emeli Sandé ends the night off with a piano introduction - that could have been playing itself for all I know - and then dragging everyone from out of their drowsy-eyed tiredness with the only song you and I probably know her for doing. What is it called, the ‘next to me’ song? The ‘ooo ooooo’ song? Bah, I don’t know, and to be frank, I don’t care. Thus, transmission ceases, the after-party begins, the crowds of reporters and fans alike go their separate ways and alas, the night is through.

 

If this were an album, and I was reviewing this with more of a subjective consulting of what might be considered promising or what could be improved on, this two-hour joke of an award’s ceremony would get a 1.4, give or take a decimal point. Positives: it ended. Negatives: everything else. But I still feel a sense of longing desperation to, indeed, leave this planet and be rid of my country’s musical ideals. The fact that I came to this ceremony - having already set my expectations at ankle height - and still came away both disappointed and disgusted, that is beyond any question, worthy of some form of credit. Well done BRITs, well done BPI; thank you for royally fucking over one/two of the top 5-10 countries in regards to music outputted, and ignoring the 90% of the music that’s actually worth attention. Thank you for confirming my misanthropic, nihilistic feelings on faith in humanity, as far as music in the wider society, is concerned. Thank you for giving me reason to swig down a two-and-a-half units two hours before I usually do so. But thank you, as well - in a surreal sort of way - for allowing me to open up my tastes in music. Without you, I would never have even been able to find the drive to wade through the sea of garbage and find many a hidden gem among the platinum-labelled chart-toppers and corporately back-patting hollow shells that is today’s mainstream market. Finding my happy place and beginning my regular sweep of Youtube videos to cheer me up, I bring this entry to a a close. Until next year, eh? 2014 - both here and across the pond in equal measure - beat that!
~Jordan

No comments:

Post a Comment