The top British music awards went to young men on Wednesday as Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith bagged the most important trophies in a star-studded Brit Awards 2015 show in London.
But the grand dame of pop music, Madonna, who performed at the ceremony for the first time in two decades, almost stole the show despite tripping off the stage in the middle of her new single “Living for Love”.
English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was the biggest winner of the night, walking away with two of the four Brit Awards he was nominated for.
He was named the best British solo artist and also took home the coveted best album prize for his second studio album, “X”.
The 24-year-old looked genuinely surprised as he mounted the stage to collect the trophy, a pale pink statuette designed by British artist Tracey Emin.
Soul singer Sam Smith, who was nominated for five Brits and competed with Sheeran for the best album, topped off his recent four Grammy wins with a Global Success award and British Breakthrough trophy.
The pop-heavy ceremony also saw performances from Take That, Kanye West and George Ezra. Kanye west was repeatedly muted by ITV during his performance for swearing.
Terrible things happened at the Brits: Madonna, Lewis Hamilton and Jimmy Carr
by Alice Vincent
As has been well-documented, Taylor Swift is a popular lady. She has made friends with other celebrities around the world, from Charli XCX and Karlie Kloss to Ellie Goulding and Lena Dunham.
Some of these friends were presenting awards at the Brit Awards, and thought it important to dedicate a few seconds on stage to announce their friendship with Swift. Goulding and Kloss were among them.
Except, when Swift thanked her British friends in her acceptance speech for Best International Female, Goulding – who was standing right next to her – was included only at the last minute.
We knew Ant and Dec would provide safe, family-friendly hosting. We knew that they would make James Corden look risqué. But what we weren’t expecting was the same Kanye West joke three times in one night.
They repeatedly made reference to a moment from the 2009 MTV VMAs, when West interrupted Taylor Swift’s collection of Best Female Video, suggesting the award should have gone to Beyoncé instead. This was a joke so old that West even sent himself up at the Grammy awards this year. Instead, it sounded like a plea for West to do something as interesting during the ceremony – especially when they asked his wife, Kim Kardashian, for a selfie.
Depending on your levels of cynicism and bitterness, Paloma Faith’s acceptance speech for Best British Female after 14 years in showbusiness was either the first proper one of the night or utterly indulgent.
Her dedication to “all the underdogs and the grafters” got a great cheer, but at more than three minutes long, it also provided a better opportunity to go and make a cup of tea than most of the seven ad breaks.
Even after her performance later in the night, she used the opportunity to continue thanking those who had helped her along the way.
Pharrell Williams couldn’t be there, One Direction couldn’t be there (see point four) and nor could Foo Fighters, but at least the latter bothered to make a video recording. Frontman Dave Grohl’s stilted speech sums up their excitement: “We’re… very… proud… to be holding this beautiful little… statue right now.”
Last year, Ellie Goulding won Best British Female and gave an impressive performance. This year she wore a long white dress and ‘banterred’ with Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton. When he asked if “she was going to a wedding or something”, she feigned mock indignation before coming back with, “yeah, ours”. As if awkward giggles from both sides were not enough, Goulding then added, “Yeah, that was a good one”, thus never allowing the joke to truly die.
When David Bowie won last year, he sent Kate Moss to collect it for him, wearing a Japanese rabbit-print onesie from 1972. Not only did One Direction snub the Brits, but they couldn’t find anybody more appealing than Simon Cowell, their svengali, to collect their award for Best British Video.
While those watching Kanye West debut of his new track, All Day, at home will have suffered from ITV censoring most of his performance, everyone in the O2 were treated to the highlight of the night: a brave, visceral performance which cut through the insufferable cheesiness of the rest of the ceremony.
When he got there, Cowell didn’t even try very much – reading out their “speech” and then thanking everyone for voting for them. At least the 1 Directioners seemed quite pleased with Cowell’s efforts.
The music executives and even other musicians in the arena, however, were not entirely sure how to communicate their enjoyment of West’s music through the medium of dance. Lionel Richie pulled some awkward shoulder shrugs while Taylor Swift seemed to think she was an extra in a Robert Plant video.
Had she not been pulled off stage (see point one), Jimmy Carr’s joke about Madonna may have been the only vaguely controversial moment of the 2015 Brit Awards. Paired with Victoria’s Secret model and Taylor Swift lookalike Karlie Kloss, Carr proceeded to make nobody laugh by saying that Madonna’s dressing room was full of drugs – but “don’t worry, it’s all HRT.”
A joke which managed to be sexist, ageist and unfunny all in one! While few smiles were raised in the O2, Twitter was alight with outraged viewers.
By the time Madonna took to the stage, it was fair to say we were all rather tired and weary. Ed Sheeran thanking someone called Dierdre seemed several centuries ago, and most of the several thousand people in the O2 Arena either wanted to head for the tube home or crash an afterparty.
But then, catastrophe struck! Madonna’s giant matador cape, which had looked so dramatic billowing behind her on the the raised catwalk platform, had been double-knotted. Thus, when it came for her helpful minotaur dancer-serfs to gracefully whip the cape away – as they had practiced so well at the Grammys just weeks before – they took poor 56-year-old Madge with it.
Gasps were heard in the crowd, savvy viewers at home recorded the whole thing on Vine, and it seemed a small eternity before the Queen of Pop had dusted herself down and met the prophecy of Living For Love’s lyrics: “I let down my guard / I fell into your arms / Now I’m down on my knees / alone in the dark… Lifted me up, and watched me stumble / After the heartache, I’m gonna carry on.”