Well people, eleven-and-a-bit months of running free amok the uninvested focus of British industry masturbatory exercising, but it's that time again whereby we take a pitiful, if secretly empathetic, look at the Red Light district of UK culture that is the BRIT Awards. Red Light district? As in a place whereby prostitution and other potential naughty shenanigans and sexual happenings of one's 'wildest dreams' take place? Yes, the very one. Because while I'm indebted as a wannabe writer to approach these bastardising excuses for 'celebration' with as much an equally strong inclination of hope and expectation - let alone a base of neutrality - it's fair to say that the BPI's testament to British music over the past twelve months, is far from deserving some glamorous zeal or vanity. British music - in terms of new talent and what, apparently, is deserving of being this year's 'hot stuff' - still gets forcefully pushed to the forefront; nothing but a superficial glass screen dividing us from them like shop-front clothed dummies; the public expected to be in awe of this 'next best thing'. While the likes of CHVRCHES did admittedly find themselves (perhaps unwillingly) riding the crest of the hype wave from debut EP to full-length LP alike last year, this was by no means a mission accomplished thumbs-up for either the BPI, nor, to bring it back to base, the work of the BRITs Academy/Awards manifesto in 'celebrating the best in British music'.
If you want to bring in some musical citation in regards to the BRITs (most notably, last year's showing), how about that Tom Odell eh? Oh and Ben Howard...remember him winning all those awards for what was supposedly a work of almighty, unprecedented quality? Well I've listened to both works by these BRIT Award winners and it's fair to say the [high level] quality is simply not there. But hey, that hasn't stopped the former from being nominated twice this year, which in effect rolls smoothly into the meatier content of today's discussion-come-rambling: it has to be said this year's nominees have caused my brain to split into two paradoxical personalities of both laughing at its unexciting sameness in parts, but also at what may slowly evolve into a flickered nodding of the head. A nod (am I really saying this?) of approval. House-revivalists and siblings Disclosure have the media-grabbing honour of being this year's joint most-nominated act with four entries: British Group, British Breakthrough, Album Of The Year & Single Of The Year (AlunaGeorge sharing in the potential crown having contributed to said nominated track, White Noise).
On the International plane, things too seem to have improved, even if that upscale in optimism gets knocked back by the squanderingly negative counters. International Group, much like the International Male shortlist last year, actually merits its Worldwide context despite nominees Arcade Fire & Daft Punk limiting such expansion to merely Canada & France respectively. International Female sees unspoken-but-respected Janelle Monáe receive a highlight, and MRD favourite Lorde - and in some respects the rise of Oceania's music scene - finally get some deserved praise in the infectious glow of the mainstream light. But given the accompanying remaining three in the list could be equally - if not more - scolded for their excessive fashion pretences and allusion of 'artistic glamour', let alone how unfulfilling (though not entirely a flop) the music of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry & Pink - whom hasn't even released a studio album in 2013, merely the singles further promoting it - actually is, frank realism tells me popularity will reign in this category.
Closer to home, the British-exclusivity in Best Male and Best Album seem all too stagnant as that of a Big Four endorsing their most commercially successful releases of last year. In one corner of the 'males' ring, we have long-time, still-strong David Bowie. And in the other corner(s) we have John Newman, poor poor misguided Tom 'you will like this artist...LIKE IT YOU LITTLE SHITS...and when it's sold enough we can contest for best male/newcomer' Odell, Jake Bugg & James 'mMmMmMmMmMmMMMM MMMMMM ooooo OOOOOO...ooooo nice, an unmerited Mercury Prize' Blake. Dare I say it; this category could potentially be interesting - a surprise declaration dominated, it seems, by youth. Or, to look on the frankly sourer side, it could go once more the way of popularity. One thing's guaranteed, win or lose...we won't be seeing Mr Bugg raise a smile or look of flatter from the horde of cheers or applause to his name...again.
So it's on the back of this vested look-forward to potential disdain, that I must equally reflect on the worst of this year's not-surprising-but-still-blood-curdling revelations. First off, the Best Singles list still perpetrates the kind of misanthropic spite I have towards the mainstream sector of the industry. Yes, Disclosure as noted, are present (and for good reason); well done BRITs, award yourself a nice, humble biscuit. But if you lower your gaze even further down the list - past the tired rehashing of bombastic choruses and over-reliance on electronics and drumbeats - you'll likely already know what I'm referring to. So while I'm in refusal to mention their name, instead resurfacing that truthful analogy of their being Manfactured Boy Band #735E, seeing not just a charity single on the list (which in essence should only ever be intended for its very name, charity; aid, good-will, supporting a cause other than one's own) but a single that quite possibly butchered two of the late 1970's most memorable song? Unacceptable.
But it doesn't end there, oh no. Let me take you back a year: 2013, it's approaching the end of the show (which to be frank had possibly been at its most over-controlled and uninspiring, regardless of the minor surprise winners), and BRIT icon, winner of the Best Single of the past 25 years, Robbie Williams, walks out to present another award. Fair enough, yes? But...there aren't any nominees. Oh so it's like the Outstanding Contribution award, which that year had been removed? S-Sort of: The Global Success Award. Alright, not quite the most artistically centred title, but hey...a lot of fans of past [British] acts could vouch for this music being deservedly honoured in more just the shallow monetary form. Fine, who's won? Wait a second, I've seen this shit before: dramatic sound effects and erratic pan's, chop-and-change editing, glitzy captions slamming onto the foreground, self-pleasuring exclamations of numeric statistics and accolades. If you haven't figured it out already, the winner of The Global Success Award is none other than MRD's contender(s) for contributing less the best, more the worst song(s) ever (which unsurprisingly in this case has to copy-and-paste its chord structure from one of past British rock's iconic tracks).
Last year I elapsed to frothy-mouthed frustration at just how far/low the industry has gone in order to award itself for the sake of awards. In a year that continually sees file-sharing and streaming reduce even more the chance of a shiny gold/platinum disc hanging on a chief executive's wall, it seems the major labels will stop at nothing to fabricate achievment. But this year, well unless they've decided to turn this into some shock-surprise reveal like they do at the BAFTAs only now to all of us, you'll notice the Global Success Award has mysteriously disappeared. Oh what a coincidence that after Syco's/Columbia's latest b[r]and is raised even further to artificial untouchability, the award is no more (at least for a year). Come on BPI; how gullible and/or brain-dead do you think we are? You expect us to believe that a pop to Syco's crotch, is justifiable on the basis of musical and artistic merit? Again, a charity single - a cover, and a horrible mashing of covers at that - standing alongside, yes, a less-than-satisfactory majority, but original content nonetheless? 2012 albums being posted alongside rightful 2013 entries? Taking away of certain awards and initiating ones not directed towards objective musical concerns, but potentially monetary/financial/egotisitical bases? No.
After the debacle that was last year's Mercury Music Prize, I was hoping the BRITs, if not a salvation, would at least be the continuing comedy of errors it so frantically pushes on us in a vague attempt to look credible and/or honest. But with these new - and quite sickening - revelations, the feeling is that despite my loathing, my need for something positive to pull itself from out the mess, will be even more desperate. It's a lose-lose situation: you want good, you get bad and feel dejected; you expect nothing, get nothing and your pessimism on what the industry holds for your country's music, becomes ever more darker. The nominee reveal perhaps should have been the give-away; a stale, unexcitable presentation that vouched for 'classic BRIT moments' where the semantics surrounding 'classic' and the context of 'BRIT moments' equates to travelling back only as far as 2010. 2010...yeh, quite a generation a four year span is eh? If you're so adamant on presenting classic moments, what about 1989, 1996, hell 2008 - as recent as it was - truly reflected the BRITs for how unstructured and shambolic its superficial professionalism of that of an award ceremony, can potentially be. Oh I forgot you only want to promote the good stuff; the hyperreal qualities and over-glamorised necessities you pride yourself on. No sorry guys, you want to give me a reel of your 'best bits', be appreciative and considerate to the years that weren't all over-polished management, perfect timing and recent performancesapparently equating to being THE BEST EVER! Get a sense of humor; show us you're willing to laugh with us at your past mishaps, rather than sticking your fingers in your ears like some naive little child.
As much as we the fans are interested in the present and what's new, to simply focus on a past that spans merely two or three years, makes you out to be both shallow and unqualified to tell us what's deserving of high acclaim. But who am I kidding, the BRITs over the past five to seven years have really taken a nose-dive on the believability chart. And while the supposed artistry and pretence for expression remains as high, just remember there are those of us who can see through the fabrication; can see that this is not a celebration of music, but instead a celebration of money, and of dominance of this tiny isle's musical culture by American-based interests. I of course look forward to the night of February 19th - even if that anticipation isn't ellaborated on unfunny desperado James Corden and his clambering about for some vague relevance and, God forbid, credibility as a funny man - watching as the winners get their hands on this year's trophy, somehow managing to trump previous year's designs, and hopefully ask themselves if a poor unfortunate angel has lost their halo...or worse, had it violently torn away by poachers. See, the joking is already underway and it's not even February. For all you lot I can only advise you, like all years, to keep realism dominant but with a trickle of hope hiding away in your line of focus. Get your brain-numbing alcoholic beverages and Ron Paul image macros at the ready: the BRITs are coming, THE BRITS ARE COMING!