I always fell asleep in the chair downstairs at the Brits. My usual bedtime was 9pm but I didn’t have a TV in my bedroom so had to endure the ceremony in the living room. Our set downstairs was 3D – in that if you were to draw it on a piece of paper you would have to start out with a 3D cube. With my back towards one arm of the chair and my legs swung across the other, I would sit with excitment shouting out who won each award whenever my parents went into the kitchen to re-brew or smoke. I don’t think they cared, they could hear what was happening, but I enjoyed the annual job of Brits spokesperson in our house.
They used to call the Brit Awards during the 90s unpredictable, with the unexpected always expected from a bunch of musicians riding the Britpop wave. This is hard to believe seeing as the show wasn’t even broadcast live, but still, it didn’t stop families around the country spouting with disbelief when Jarvis Cocker had the literal cheek to humiliate ‘Jesus’ Jackson. Newspapers would rile up the fury pitted between a set Northern, Working class boys from Manchester and a bunch of Southern twits in their country houses for weeks before the awards. We didn’t have the internet and if you needed to see what was happening between your favourite bands you had to watch the news or buy a magazine. The media seized the Britpop rivalry as a chance to draw people into the award ceremony. Everyone I knew watched the Brits. It became playground scandal the next day.
When Geri Halliwell wore the Union Jack Dress, she captured the Cool Britannia movement which was sweeping a somewhat Broken Britain in 1997. Spice Fever was at it’s peak. I argued with the girls in my class who would get to be which Spice Girl, and arguments would break friendships for the day if you didn’t get to be your favourite. Come the Brits, every young girl across the country was in front of their TV set bouncing around in their front room copying the girl group. The Brits captured people with the bubble of controversy because there was nothing else as scandalous in our lives. Today, we have access to that bubble 24/7 and the Brits have failed to keep up with that moment. No longer are the Brits playground scandal, no longer are they any scandal.
The Brits aren’t cool anymore, no matter how hard the ceremony tries with techno beats, and lavish guests. The music that is enjoyed there has changed and people compare today’s ceremony to it’s older siblings which is a shame because it doesn’t really stand a chance. Homegrown talent should be celebrated and it’s fantastic that we can still celebrate music as passionately as we did 20 years ago, even if we don’t particularly like what graces our ears. But unfortunately, the Brits are orchestrated in a way that the unpredictable is predictable and we often tune in merely to anticipate drama which leaves us feeling lacklustre because it’s staged due to the lack of personality that drives the music awarded at the ceremony today.
Where has the buzz gone for the Brits? Should it actually come from music or the personalities of the people who are attending? Everyone who attends is scared of upset or embarrassment – of course they would have to face the media mogul commentaries from ordinary people. It’s obvious from their music and the lack of witty lyrics that people haven’t got the scandal in them, nor the quick wit to do something heroic.
People don’t like to hear it but the fault comes down to us. We should buy music and encourage music to be played that has personality: a set of lyrics that make us decode the meaning; or a back bone in a lead singer who isn’t scared of upsetting musicians; or supporting a band whose music is as equally as outlandish as their attitudes. At times, we see sparks of genius at the ceremony, for instance when Peter Kay can call your idol a knob head and you sit gob smacked because you didn’t see it coming, but the Brits for the most part remain cemented in a time where we had only ourselves to share that moment – with our families in the front room. Even now our idols shy away from the ceremony, which tells me we should be the ones protesting that they attend to inspire music and personality in future musicians or else we’re gonna be stuck with the uncool trying to be cool.
The Brits carry our name so surely it’s our responsibility to make sure that they become brilliant again. I want to tell my children and grandchildren who are sat dozing in the chair watching the ceremony about the days when the Brits were cool, and when they flopped for a short time, and when we took charge and changed the direction of music to make them memorable again. The alternative is that the ceremony ends as it becomes degrading to music, taking some truly fantastic episodes of music to the grave with it, which ultimately would be tragic and uncool.