THE BEGINNING

Did you watch this year’s Grammy’s? It was, as ever, the (pimp) daddy of award ceremonies: the aloof Oscars’ sexy, platinum-dipped sister.

britawards

Our leading award ceremony could learn a lot or nothing from America’s

Did you watch this year’s Grammy’s? It was, as ever, the (pimp) daddy of award ceremonies: the aloof Oscars’ sexy, platinum-dipped sister. Like the States itself, it was big, expensive, impressive, ridiculous, glamorous, ambitious, boastful, shameless and self-congratulatory. It was flawless; from its close ups of Beyonce and her man to its Eminem/Little Wayne collaboration. And then came our chance to return the ball by presenting The Brit Awards 2010: a comparable caricature, trying brother of The Grammy’s, hosted this year by a comedian as relevant as Friendsreunited.com.

As well as the obvious advantage of tonnes of cash (note how The Grammy’s need no sponsorship while the red carpet of The Brits is forever beneath a giant MasterCard logo that then spins about your screen throughout the coverage), America’s annual back-slap gives itself an edge by not employing an anchorman for the evening. They employ a rather stern sounding ‘voice of God’ to instruct, “Please welcome multi-Grammy winner Lionel Richie to the stage.” It’s then up to Lionel to do his thing, which, this year, was to introduce a Michael Jackson tribute performance of ‘Earth Song’ by Celine Dion, Usher, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson. Unlike at the Brits tradition, there’s no tired observational humour thrust upon on a crowd too pissed or too sober to hear or care. The Grammy’s is respectful and knowing of its class; The Brits is Sarah Harding announcing that she’s just pissed herself. The voice of God – not unlike the fleeting hosts it announces – doesn’t adlib or show off, or associate itself with the wet-pant-ed; it’s key to The Grammy’s pooping on our parade.

The awards themselves hardly ever go to deserving winners at either event, but the calibre of unworthy gong-snatchers in the States (‘celebrity’ is their bread and butter after all) is undeniably impressive. The same goes for the losers, givers, takers and, most notably, the performers. Over there they get not just Marshall Mathers and Little Wayne performing with and proving that Drake is hip-hop’s one-to-watch this year, but also that Celine and Usher MJ homage, Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks, Beyonce and no one (it’s just not needed), Jamie Fox, Pink, The Black Eyed Peas and Bon Jovi, joined by a women in leather trouser which were out-frightened by her dance moves (we can only presume she was some super successful country star). Perhaps none of these are ‘your thing’ but they are some of the biggest names in the world.

The Brits always give good chase on the performers front (JT and Kylie, Klaxons and Rhiana, this year’s Jigga and Alicia), but with most of the superstars being American and living in the LA area where The Grammy’s are held, keeping up is a tiring, ultimately impossible feat, leaving us to plug GaGa-less holes with Kasabian and JLS, introduced by an adlibbing non-voice of God.

The solution seems clear – if the Brits can’t emulate the all-bragging Grammy’s to a standard higher than its current, amateurish state (not that it consciously tries to, although it’s safe to say that we’ve always longs to be loved by America where all of our musical achievements are concerned) perhaps we should change tact and play to our Hugh Grant-bumbling, slightly tacky strengths.

Forget Earls Court, we could hold it on the set of Hole In The Wall, or The Jeremy Kyle Show. We could broadcast it on Dave, and our ‘voice of God’ could be provided by Alan Carr. And forget pleading Jay-Z to perform in front of a hundred thousand pounds of pyrotechnics when Dizzy Rascal can do ‘Bonkers’ beside a roman candle in the car park.

It all sounds a little ‘Inner City Sumo’, a la Alan Partridge, but what I mean is, why don’t we present the Brits in a typically British way: with a knowing smirk of stupidity and silliness? Because let’s face it, we’re not very good playing Hollywood.

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Originally published in issue 14 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. February 2010

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