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Let’s Get Cynical About: The Brit Awards 2014

Brit Awards 2014 logo

You know you’ve been taking the piss out of the Brit Awards too long when you look at the current year’s shortlist and think “…well, at least it’s not as bad as last year’s.” You might disagree, and I’d very much understand that – perhaps I’ve just reluctantly come to terms with the fact that the Brit Awards are primarily designed to reward (chart) success first and musical credibility second. You’re never going to see Jon Hopkins or These New Puritans or Daughter or Savages or (insert other deserving British artist here) on these shortlists, and if you prefer your music to be prominently feature guitars then you’re largely out of luck – in much the same way as most ‘guitar bands’ are in the charts these days. This year’s selection of awards looks pretty lean at first glance, with no ‘Best Live Act’ and only three international categories, though what the Brits website doesn’t tell you is that the ‘Brits Global Success Award’ is returning after its introduction last year. ‘Best British Video’ will also be making a comeback after being absent for over a decade – apparently the nominations will be announced on the night and voted for via social media. While the sprawling mess of the Grammies is perhaps a little overkill, it does feel like the Brits could do with spreading its wings a bit and introducing some more genre-specific categories – we might see a few more interesting acts getting nominated that way…

Anyhow, let’s have a quick look at who might win, eh?

British Breakthrough Act
Bastille
Disclosure
Laura Mvula
London Grammar
Tom Odell

I briefly thought that the Brits had finally dispensed with public voting, but no, the British Breakthrough category continues its long tradition of being thrown open to the public. Sadly, my trusty method of judging who’s the most popular fell flat last year after Ben Howard won despite not having anywhere near the most fans on Facebook. However, that’s not going to stop me from using the very same method this year and declaring that Bastille will win this one – though it’s also because I reckon they’re the most likely to have the sort of obsessive fanbase who’d vote en masse for this sort of thing. London Grammar are probably the only other band who’d come close.

British Female Solo Artist
Birdy
Ellie Goulding
Jessie J
Laura Marling
Laura Mvula

Only one of these women has had a number one single (and, eventually, a number one album as well). That woman is Ellie Goulding, and I would be very surprised if anyone else wins this award. Any other result would seem a bit half-hearted on the Brits committee’s part, no?

British Group
Arctic Monkeys
Bastille
Disclosure
One Direction
Rudimental

What statement do the Brits want to make this year? You may as well rename the ‘Brits Global Success Award’ the ‘One Direction award for being One Direction’ again this year, and you’d think that would allow the judges to avoid making a potentially controversial choice here. But could they do the unthinkable and pull off a rare victory for pure pop music in this category? Or will the organisers pick the only ‘traditional’ choice and go with Arctic Monkeys, bucking the year’s predominant trends in the process? Or they plant their flag firmly in the ashes of ‘guitar music’ and proclaim Disclosure or Rudimental the winner?

I predict they’ll do none of these things and pick Bastille, which as far as statements go is roughly equivalent to a non-committal shrug.

British Male Solo Artist
David Bowie
Jake Bugg
James Blake
John Newman
Tom Odell

Well, we can safely say that David Bowie won’t win because the ‘token legend’ never ever wins. James Blake is mainly here because he won the Mercury Prize, but will that translate to Brits success? Probably not, though we can live in hope. Honestly, out of all of these I reckon John Newman might take it, if only because he’s got the most obvious hit single to play over the PA as he goes to collect the award.

British Single

Bastille – ‘Pompeii’
Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding – ‘I Need Your Love’
Disclosure feat. AlunaGeorge – ‘White Noise’
Ellie Goulding – ‘Burn’
John Newman – ‘Love Me Again’
Naughty Boy feat. Sam Smith – ‘La La La’
Olly Murs – ‘Dear Darlin”
One Direction – ‘One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)’
Passenger – ‘Let Her Go’
Rudimental feat. Ella Eyre- ‘Waiting All Night’

I do love the way the Brits website can’t even be arsed to list the names of the songs. You’d think that would be quite important for a ‘Best Single’ award, no? Anyway, whilst looking them up on Wikipedia, I discovered an interesting fact – these 10 songs were literally the 10 best-selling singles by British artists in 2013. Look here if you don’t believe me – you’ll find these ten songs at numbers 4, 5, 11, 12, 14, 15, 20, 24, 29, and 32. It’s also worth noting that Lily Allen‘s godawful cover of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ was number 11, so thank your lucky stars that this list wasn’t even worse. (Looking at last year’s list, exactly the same process seems to have been used, except there were 15 nominations rather than 10.)

Anyway, as for the award itself, I’ve genuinely no idea how they’re going to decide this one. If we go purely on sales figures it’s a straight fight between Passenger and Naughty Boy (4 and 5 in the year-end sales figures respectively). However, Ellie Goulding might also be in with a shout because she spent the longest time at number one (three weeks, compared to one or zero for everyone else). Fuck it, I’ll go with that logic and say she’ll win.

International Female Solo Artist
Janelle Monáe
Katy Perry
Lady Gaga
Lorde
P!nk

Ok, process of elimination time – Janelle Monáe is too niche, Lady Gaga‘s last album felt like a relative flop despite going straight to number one, P!nk… well, P!nk somehow had the 20th best selling album of last year despite the fact it came out in 2012. What is life? Anyway, that’s not zeitgeisty enough for the Brits panel, so we’re left with Katy Perry or Lorde – established star vs. up-and-comer. I reckon they might actually go with the New Zealand up-and-comer, particularly after last year’s demonstration that the judges are willing to use the International categories to make themselves look a bit cooler.

International Group
Arcade Fire
Daft Punk
Haim
Kings Of Leon
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Surely Daft Punk are a shoo-in here, given that their chart success totally eclipses everyone else on the list? I mean, it’d be cute if Haim won and all but I just don’t think they’ve sold enough records.

International Male Solo Artist
Bruno Mars
Drake
Eminem
John Grant
Justin Timberlake

Well, they always find room for one total curveball eh? John Grant is easily this year’s most unlikely nominee in any category, but of course that means he’s probably not going to win. The field’s pretty open for any of the others to take the award though, so let’s go with the lowest common denominator and say Bruno Mars will win.

MasterCard British Album of the Year
Arctic Monkeys – AM
Bastille – Bad Blood
David Bowie – The Next Day
Disclosure – Settle
Rudimental – Home

Honestly, I was willing to give Bastille the benefit of the doubt – but then I actually listened to Bad Blood, and let’s just say I am now no longer willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m pretty convinced that anyone else on this list would be a better winner, but realistically, given their combination of sales and critical success, it has to be Arctic Monkeys, right?

…right?

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Let’s Get Cynical About: The Brit Awards 2010

After finally finishing my ‘Songs Of The Decade’ posts, I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about next. But as luck would have it, the nominations for this year’s Brit Awards have just been announced – and they’re always ripe for a good kicking. Without further ado then…

British Female Solo Artist

Bat For Lashes
Florence & The Machine

Leona Lewis
Lily Allen
Pixie Lott

Bat For Lashes is clearly the standout act in this list – which means, of course, she stands bugger all chance of winning. Predicting a winner from the rest of the artists seems a little bit tricky, but if I were a betting man I’d put my money on the big-selling winner of last year’s ‘Critics Choice’ award, Florence & The Machine.

British Male Solo Artist

Calvin Harris
Dizzee Rascal
Mika
Paolo Nutini
Robbie Williams

Well, Robbie Williams has already won this about a million times before, and he’s picking up the Outstanding Contribution To Music award this year, so it seems a bit pointless for him to win here. As for the rest… well, Mika should clearly not be winning anything apart from ‘most irritating voice’. It’s not easy to make a prediction here, but I reckon they might be ‘edgy’ this year and pick Dizzee Rascal. He is performing at the ceremony, if that’s any indication of anything.

British Breakthrough Act

Florence & The Machine
Friendly Fires
JLS
La Roux
Pixie Lott

This category has been subject to the vagaries of the public vote for as long as I can remember, which has resulted in some truly terrible winners. That tradition is probably set to continue here – I predict a JLS victory, but I’ll be quite happy to be wrong. I’ll be voting for Friendly Fires, for what it’s worth.

British Group

Doves
Friendly Fires
JLS
Kasabian
Muse

While the only possible reaction to JLS being on this list is “oh, FUCK OFF,” seeing Friendly Fires get a nomination is a very pleasant surprise – but I don’t think either of them will win. It’s probably a two horse race between Kasabian and Muse, and I think Kasabian will take it.

British Album

Dizzee Rascal – Tongue N’ Cheek
Florence & The Machine – Lungs
Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You
Paulo Nutini – Sunny Side Up

Considering the amount of brilliant British albums released in 2009, this is quite a mediocre list, in the grand scheme of things. Oh, wait, it’s the Brits. Anyway, I think it’s going to be Florence & The Machine or Kasabian, but I can’t decide which… Florence or Kasabian. Florence or Kasabian…

Florence.

British Single

Alesha Dixon – ‘Breathe Slow’
Alexandra Burke Ft Flo Rida – ‘Bad Boys’
Cheryl Cole – ‘Fight For This Love’
Joe McElderry – ‘The Climb’
JLS – ‘Beat Again’
La Roux – ‘In For The Kill’
Lily Allen – ‘The Fear’
Pixie Lott – ‘Mama Do’
Taio Cruz – ‘Break Your Heart’
Tinchy Stryder Ft N-Dubz – ‘Number 1’

In recent years, the British Single category has devolved into the ultimate public-voted crapshoot, making it near impossible to make an accurate prediction. But isn’t it wonderful that there are three X-Factor acts in this category AGAIN! Isn’t it touching that both little Joe McElderry and his X-Factor mentor, Cheryl Cole, are nominated! Isn’t it brilliant that the best songs on here, by a country mile, are by La Roux and Lily Allen! Aren’t N-Dubz shit!

…wait, I’m not being sarcastic about that last one. Better hope Dappy doesn’t send me death threats!

BRITs Album of 30 Years

Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head
Dido – No Angel
Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms
Duffy – Rockferry
Keane – Hopes & Fears
Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
Sade – Diamond Life
The Verve – Urban Hymns
Travis – The Man Who

Question: Which of these albums is the best of the last thirty years?

The correct answer is Radiohead Kid A. But uh, that didn’t win when it was nominated in 2001, and the slightly obtuse rules for this category state that, to be nominated, an album has to have won in the ‘Best British Album’ category at the Brits (as well as having sold a truckload). This one’s up for the public vote as well – as if one complete crapshoot wasn’t enough. As for a prediction… my stab in the dark would be Coldplay.

Most Memorable Brits Performance of 30 Years

I’m not even going to bother listing the extensive nominations for this category, as among them is one Michael Jackson – he of recently-deceased-King-Of-Pop fame – and as this is yet another publicly voted category, I would be massively surprised if anyone but him wins.

International Female Solo Artist

Lady Gaga
Ladyhawke
Norah Jones
Rhianna
Shakira

Well, after reading the first name on this list, the rest just read like a formality. Personally, I’d take Ladyhawke over Lady Gaga any day of the year, but I really can’t see anyone but the disco-stick rider taking this.

International Male Solo Artist

Bruce Springsteen
Eminem
Jay-Z
Micheal Buble
Seasick Steve

Well, technically Lady Gaga could win this award too lolololol!!111! I don’t really know which way this one’s going to go, but Jay-Z lost out to Kanye last time, and with Mr. West nowhere to be seen, I reckon it could be the Hova’s year.

International Album

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Black Eyed Peas – The E.N.D.
Empire of the Sun – Walking On A Dream
Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3
Lady Gaga – The Fame

While I didn’t particularly get into it myself, it’s nice to see the Brits academy at least acknowledging the critical love-fest that surrounded Animal Collective’s latest record. However, as always, they’ll reward the artist that sold a shit-tonne of units – that’d be Lady Gaga then.

International Breakthrough Artist

Animal Collective
Daniel Merriweather
Empire Of The Sun
Lady Gaga
Taylor Swift

For some reason, the Brit awards have seen fit to replace ‘Best International Group’ with this new, publicly voted category – and because it’s a public vote, Lady Gaga wins. The End. I guess it’s kinda funny that Animal Collective are considered a ‘Breakthrough Act’ after nine albums though.

And that’s your (Pixie) lot(t). Ho ho ho. Come back after the awards ceremony on the 16th to see how right/wrong I was!

… you can come back before then if you like though. I might even have written about something else.

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