BRIT Awards 2015 TV review: 'With Madonna's tumble the ceremony beat Kanye at the Grammys and Travolta at the Oscars'
Woah - did Madonna actually fall of stage at the Brits? It seemed incredible - and yet that was what apparently happened as, after a largely supine evening, the UK music industry shindig belatedly lived up to its notorious reputation.
Performing new track Living For Love Madge was happily flanked by dancers in fluttering outfits, when one of the hoofers tugged her robes and down she went, sending the internet into immediate paroxysms.
To be fair, our appetite had already been whetted. It’s been a lively season for award ceremonies. Kanye faux-bumrushed Beck at the Grammys, John Travolta dusted down his creepy uncle routine for The Oscars. Historically the booziest, blowsiest of industry bashes, surely the Brits could go one better?
Consider the melting pot of potential controversialists assembled for our delectation. Poor Madge was making her first Brits appearance for 20 years, fresh from an eye-popping/watering turn at the Grammys. Kanye AND Taylor were in the house (was that an engagement ring on Swift's finger? Twitter said 'possibly') . A slimmed down Take That were to pop along. Stir it all together and you had light entertainment nitroglycerin – a deeply unstable mix that seemed sure to go off in someone’s face.
Actually, Kanye was crushingly un-Kanye esque. He debuted a new (ish) track, his black-clad performance moderately less ludicrous than the flames spuming over his head. The song was fine - if chiefly distinguishable by a torrent of bleeped swear words. Rap scientists immediately confirmed 70 percent of his performance has been censored. At home, you wondered if your TV was on the blink.
He was thoroughly upstaged by Swift, opening the evening with her staccato stalker dirge Blank Space, then receiving the gong for best international female artist (she thanked Ed Sheeran and Cara Delevingne).
Lest we forget, the Brits were the original car-crash awards. There was Bill Drummond's notorious 1986 appearance, culminating in the KLF man flinging a dead sheep into the front row. And it was here that, in 1996, Oasis told INXS’ Michael Hutchence that ‘has- beens shouldn’t be presenting awards to gonna bes’. Given how explosive the Grammys had been, surely the beer-fuelled Brits would be more scandalous yet?
On the other hand, this year’s shortlist of nominees was conspicuously lacking in rabble rousers. Things were hardly going to kick off between Ed Sheeran (inevitable best British male winner) and St Vincent, were they? Blues-rockers Royal Blood adore a ruckus on stage – in person, however, they are practically cuddly (to their credit, they did win best best British group, ahead of One Direction). If Kanye West invaded their private space, they might well have requested an autograph.
Tellingly many of winners were absent. Foo Fighters and Pharrell ( edging aside Hozier for best international male) sent video thanks; One Direction stooped lower yet sending Simon Cowell to collect their gong( file under 'could try harder').
One big change was the replacement of James Corden – off to make his fortunes as a US chat show host – with Ant ‘n Dec (who seemed thoroughly thrilled by their Kim Kardashian selfie moment). You feared the worst –the duo’s rough and ready style is just about bearable in limited quantities on I’m A Celeb… and Britain’s Got Talent. Across an entire evening, cheeky chappy over-kill seemed a real danger.
Actually, they were charming. Not in the least slick, their seat-of-the-pants presentation style was a pleasant contrast to the buffed-to-death production values of The Oscars and Grammys. Judging by the hoots and howls from the floor, the great and good of the British music industry had come anticipating an old fashioned knees-up. Ant and Dec ensured that’s exactly what they received.