BRITS 2021 delivers progressive ceremony without descending into woke hysteria

BRITS 2021 delivers progressive ceremony without descending into woke hysteria

05/12/2021

** OPINION **

Take note Los Angeles-based superstars, you don’t need to launch into a five-minute mud-slinging tirade against anyone who doesn’t perfectly fit your woke mould to get your point across.

Last night’s BRIT awards proved that less really is more when it comes to being progressive and getting your point across.

Against a rainbow-themed backdrop of The O2 Arena, Little Mix, Dua Lipa and David Furnish all made strong calls for equality, unity and learning from the past without preaching down the lens to our living rooms.

Unlike tanking awards shows across the pond, where stars seem to revel in telling the world how we all need to educate ourselves from their hypocrisy-ridden ivory towers, their British counterparts made clear, engaging points, without getting backs up.

Rightly so, Little Mix made no apologies for calling out the sexism they and other women have faced in the music industry by dedicating their Best Group gong to iconic female bands through the years who have all been snubbed for the award, but delivered their bullet-pointed speech without going overboard.

In fact, their brief, tear-filled comments were all the more powerful for not dwelling on their troubles and overlaying the point to a trio of tiny violins.

Introducing his husband Sir Elton John to the stage, David Furnish also cut through the noise to hammer home the poignant truth about how far we have come but still need to go in the fight against AIDS.

Even Queen of the Left Michelle Obama managed to make a surprise appearance, without using the platform to score cheap political points.

US superstar Taylor Swift, who became the first female to ever be awarded the Global Icon Award, also kept things concise.

Only pandemic party girl Dua Lipa, who has jetted around the world more times in the past 12 months than most of us have in the past decade, teetered on the brink of preaching.

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The Fever songstress, who picked up two awards on the night, name-checked Boris Johnson for failing to give frontline workers a respectable pay rise.

But who can blame her?

If reports are to be believed, while NHS staff worked around the clock to literally save thousands of lives up and down the UK, our millionaire PM was helping select obscenely priced golden wallpaper and scouring donors to pay for has childcare.

Luckily, everyone’s favourite Scottish crooner Lewis Capaldi was on hand to bring things back from the edge with an explicit rant about football.

Somewhere behind the cameras, the ITV production team were put into a spin as they tried in vain to bleep out every expletive to come out of his mouth.

But they need not have bothered.

I doubt viewers at home would have cared one bit – in fact the opposite.

If free-falling award show ratings around the world show us anything, it’s that the public have grown tired of the cookie-cutter celeb who refuses to go off the restrictive script, thrusted upon them by uptight PRs lurking in the shadows.

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Performance-wise it was hit and miss.

Will many songs still be in the charts in five years? I doubt it, but I don't see that as a bad thing.

The BRITs have always been about the music of the day, even if many will have unknowingly peaked by the end of the night.

Dua cemented herself as British pop princess with a Future Nostalgia medley from inside a light up London underground carriage for a memorably bold performance.

Rising star Griff also showed it’s possible to deliver a stripped-back performance and not be forgettable.

But it was Sir Elton and his collaboration with Years and Years frontman Ollie Alexander which stole the show.

At 74 years old, the icon once again showed he’s still got his finger on music’s pulse with a terrifically camp cover of Pet Shop Boys classic It’s A Sin.

The Russell T Davies series of the same name shone an uncompromising light on the harrowing reality of the 80s AIDS epidemic.

While there seemed to be conflicting messages behind the scenes about social distancing – Little Mix arrived and posed for snuggly pics together but were banned from having three to a table – hats off to all those behind the scenes putting the show together amid a truly torrid 12 months for the industry.

Not only had live music been resigned to that of times gone by, but the rise of Zoom threatened to kill off the spontaneous and human interaction of awards shows all together.

At the helm, comedian Jack Whitehall remained on top of his game delivering a robust hosting performance with tongue-in-cheek whit and a smattering of savage but deserved cutting jibes.

Spotify fat-cats, Piers Morgan, Tiger Woods and Laurence Fox were all mocked during the evening, as was poster girl of Covid flouting arrogance, Rita Ora.

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The Bang Bang songstress’ infamous rule breaking 30th birthday bash was referenced during a surprise appearance from viral TikTok singer Nathan Evans as he and Jack sang new lyrics to the tune of the number one smash.

Overall the evening gave the biggest indication yet that the Covid nightmare we’ve found ourselves in is finally coming to an end, far more effectively than any slide or graphic from Chris Whitty ever could.

After being locked away in our homes for so long, the thin smattering of stars on the arena floor seemed genuinely happy – if not relieved – to be out on show once more.

And who knows, perhaps the past 14 months in lockdown will have given celebs perspective and a new understanding that life is too short to sit sour-faced at VIP live events while taking themselves too seriously.

When they do that it’s just possible we could see a return to the raucous BRITs of years gone by.

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