Just how you watch the Brit Awards this year will depend on your age, sense of irony, ability to just go with it and masochism. But you will watch it.
I’ve watched the Brits since the year 5ive and Steps fake smiled as an unknown married couple called Belle & Sebastian beat them to the Best Newcomer trophy, off the back of their third album. It didn’t seem fair. Presenters Zoë Ball and Huey Morgan looked embarrassed; it was the moment Johnny Vaughn (presenting the whole show) officially started to lose his hair.
That was 17 years ago, and I’ve since felt every imaginable emotion that one can whilst watching the Brits. Age is a big part of it, but having loved it, hated it, hated it more, really fucking loathed it (the Osbournes hosted it as a family in 2008), told myself it’s getting better (the year after the Osbournes hosted it as a family), realised “hey, it’s a bit of fun, isn’t it”, and then definitely counted myself out, I’ve come to the conclusion that my feelings don’t count – I, like all music fans, am hardwired to watch the Brit Awards until I die. Here is how I get through it…
A is for Alcohol
Booze at the Brit Awards is a big draw for artists. You can see it pushed to the middle of their tables in a big, flashy pile. I like to recreate this scene at home with bottles of champagne (Crabbies) piled up on my dining table (floor). Now get so drunk that you can’t hear a word Ant and Dec are saying all night. It’s like you’re there in the room.
B is for Boy Bands
There are going to be a lot of elements of the Brits that don’t sit well with your Sonic Youth ‘Goo’ T-Shirt, but you’re going to have to park that snobbery. Shouting “but they don’t write their own songs” at your TV on this particular evening is like telling your three-year-old off for painting your hair blue and giving you three fingers in their most recent work of fridge art, which is appalling.
C is for Controversy
Whether it’s Jarvis Cocker mooning-but-not-mooning at Michael Jackson (RIP) or Madonna having a fall (RIP), there’s always a life-changing moment of drama at The Brits, which everyone will be talking about at work tomorrow. Don’t be the guy who, this year, is all, like, “No, I didn’t see Ed Sheeran move away from the microphone before he stopped talking.” It’s going to be the highlight of the night.
D is for Double Act
The Brits are always best when they have two or more people trying to tame the ignorant crowd at the O2 (except for when the Osbournes hosted it as a family in 2008) and this year is the swansong for Ant and Dec, a budding double act who could do with some appreciation. Why not send them a tweet to let them know how they’re getting on?
E is for Eulogies
Nothing puts things into perspective at an awards ceremony like a fresh montage of recently deceased faces over a classy instrumental version of ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay, while everyone sombrely mutters, “oh yeah, I forgot he died.” The Brits is no different, simply the only ceremony that snaps you back to the terror of now with Declan Donnelly shouting: “And now, to present the award for Best Breakthrough Pop Act, as voted by the listeners of Capital FM, give it up for Lewis Hamilton!”
F is for Fun
Try to remember that the Brit Awards is meant to be fun. Lewis Hamilton just presented the award for Best Breakthrough Pop Act, as voted by the listeners of Capital FM.
G is for Gags
If a guest presenter tells a joke to an arena of 10,000 drunk pop stars, industry names and Radio 1 victims, and no one laughs, did the joke ever happen?
H is for Haters
Twitter is made for events like the Brit Awards. It’s important to not feel alone while James Bay picks up his third award, and not just because you preferred his earlier work in The White Stripes. No one online will be saying anything positive about what you’re currently witnessing, but that’s ok, because the Brits are fundamentally dog shit.
I is for International Solo Male
It’s worth tuning in just see who wins this category this year. Nominees are Drake, Father John Misty, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd. All excellent. Justin Bieber is nominated too, but he’ll never win.
J is for Jess Glynne
Jess Glynne will be at the Brit Awards.
K is for Kanye West
Kanye West will not be at the Brit Awards.
L is for Live Music
The live performances at the Brits sometimes sound, if not better than, certainly as good as the CD. You really couldn’t tell the difference between the two, which I’m impressed by.
M is for Mastercard
It’s Mastercard that pays for the Brits every year these days. As someone watching from home you’ll be made far more aware of this than anyone there by the indents that bookend the endless ad-breaks. They are not very good, and may well feature Ricky Wilson.
N is for Nostalgia
It’s what got you here in the first place – you’re watching the Brit Awards because you always have. What are you going to do, NOT watch them? Don’t be daft. Take a few moments to remember the tough times that made you a Brits lifer – Stereo MCs winning the album of the year in 1994; The Darkness winning it in 2004; The Osbournes presenting it as a family in 2008. Calvin Harris just beat Aphex Twin in the British Solo Male category – chalk it up.
O is for Olly Murs
Olly Murs will be at the Brit Awards.
P is for Politicians
Every now and then, a misguided politician will pop up at The Brits in the hope of emulating Tony Blair’s standing ovation in 1997, where he was publicly praised by Noel Gallagher (RIP), and effectively handed the General Election. There’s every chance Catfish & The Bottlemen could do the same for Boris Johnson.
Q is for Quality Control
Fair play to the Brits, they keep things relatively light. There are only 11 awards, so, hey, it’s not going to go on forever. The Grammy’s could learn from this, which starts at 11am on a Monday and ends at noon on the Wednesday.
R is for Red Carpet
It might be the best part of the Brits – the 30-second opening credits made up of a montage of this afternoon’s red carpet run. I wonder who they’ll get to stick their tongue out at the camera this year. And who’ll say “It’s the biggest night in British music.” As Ricky Wilson poses in front of a massive Mastercard logo, ask yourself this – “How can the next two hours be anything but a solid 4 out of 10?”
S is for Speeches
Why not play a drinking game during the Brits where, during the speeches, you drink a bottle of Ginger Joe every time a winner thanks “most importantly the fans”? You’ll be dead by the first commercial break, of which there are 100.
T is for Tributes
Whatever The Brits have up their sleeve to honour the life of David Bowie, I’m sure it’s exactly what he would have wanted.
U is for Unexpected guest presenters
Jonathan Ross and Tom Daley; Nicole Scherzinger and Cesc Fàbregas; Lewis Smith and Jack Whitehall – the Brits definitely know how to hook up a couple of like-minded taste-makers to present their awards. By 2012 I shouldn’t have been surprised when will.i.am and Rob Brydon presented Lana Del Rey with the International Breakthrough Act gong, but I was.
V is for VISA
For everything else there’s Mastercard.
W is for Watch
This is going to sound like a lie, but this watch has been designed especially for the Brits this year to celebrate 40 years of punk, an anti-establishment movement that was all about recycling fashion, and being broke, creative and angry. It costs £730.
X is for XXXXing HELL!
The Brits is nearly live, but not quite. The reason for the delay on the broadcast is, of course, to bleep out all the salty language. What do you think of that, punk watch?
Y is for Your Patience…
…for the mighty Brit Awards and for this A-Z Guide. For that, I would like to, “most importantly”, thank you, the fans.
Z is for ZZ Top
ZZ Top will be at the Brit Awards, selling official programmes in the crowd.