One Direction and Mumford highlight Brit Awards
British music put on a brash, confident show at the Brit Awards on Wednesday, celebrating a resurgent industry whose bands and artists are topping charts around the globe.
Winners ranged from established acts such as Coldplay and Adele to world-conquering boy band One Direction, who won in the new Global Success category.
One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson called the prize “absolutely mind-blowing.”
American artists Frank Ocean and Lana Del Rey were among the non-British winners at a ceremony that embraced the mainstream while rewarding artists with distinctive personalities.
Surfing English folk singer Ben Howard and chanteuse Emeli Sande each won two awards.
Sande was named best British female artist and won the album of the year prize for her debut Our Version of Events, which has been in the British charts for more than a year. Scotland-raised Sande got a big boost in 2012 when she performed at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics.
“This is a dream, really,” said Sande, who beat Alt-J, Mumford & Sons, Plan B and Paloma Faith to the album prize.
She thanked everyone “who made me feel like I’m part of something much bigger.”
Howard was named British breakthrough act and British male artist of the year.
“I’m not very good at speeches,” the 25-year-old singer said, accurately – though he may have to get good at it if his career continues to take off.
Long derided as dull, the Brits have become a lively celebration of “Cool Britannia” music and style, featuring a dinner for hundreds of artists and industry figures followed by a televised concert and awards show for thousands of paying fans.
Hard rockers Muse opened the show at London’s O2 Arena with a typically robust performance of their song “Supremacy” — all thundering music, dazzling light show and 60-piece orchestra. Other performers ranged from tween-pleasing One Direction to American artists Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake.
Timberlake, dapper in a tuxedo as he performed “Mirrors,” was described by host James Corden, in a nod to Europe’s horse meat scandal, as “95 percent beefcake with just a little touch of horse.”
One Direction performed a mashup of post-punk classics “One Way or Another” and “Teenage Kicks,” their single for Britain’s Comic Relief charity.
Mumford & Sons were named best British group. The banjo-twanging band topped U.K. and U.S. charts with their second album Babel, which was named album of the year at the Grammys earlier this month.
Soul singer Amy Winehouse — who died in July 2011 from accidental alcohol poisoning — was among the other nominees for British female artist, eligible thanks to her posthumous Lioness: Hidden Treasures album. Her father, Mitch Winehouse, arrived for the awards ceremony at London’s O2 Arena wearing a waistcoat emblazoned with a picture of his daughter.
Coldplay was named best British live act, beating nominees including The Rolling Stones, who celebrated their 50th anniversary with a series of sold-out shows last year.
Adele won the best British single prize for her James Bond theme “Skyfall.” The soulful singer sent a message from Los Angeles, where she is rehearsing for Sunday’s Academy Awards.
There was no repeat of last year, when she was cut-off mid-speech because the show was running late — an incident Corden referred to in mock-embarrassment several times.
The Black Keys were named best international group, while Del Rey took the trophy for international female solo artist. The U.S. singer, who began as an Internet sensation, won a breakthrough Brit award last year and on Wednesday thanked Britain for supporting her.
The international male trophy went to R&B star Frank Ocean, who said it was “definitely a long way from working fast food in New Orleans” – and was the only winner to thank artist Damien Hirst for creating the polka-dot Brit Awards statuette.
Style standouts included Swift, who performed “I Knew You Were Trouble” in a hoop-skirted white number — more wedding cake than wedding dress — that she shed to reveal black undergarments. Jessie J drew attention in a deeply low-cut black dress.
Most of the awards are chosen by more than 1,000 musicians, critics and record industry figures, with several decided by public vote.