They both won two awards and our hearts
The BRITs have had a reputation these last few years for being a bit of a shambles with a painfully unfunny host and a predictable line-up of winners. But, somehow, for once that wasn’t the case last night.
For one, the host wasn’t James Corden and it was actually a right laugh. The ceremony was steered by a delightfully acid-tongued Jack Whitehall, who gleefully jumped from asking Cheryl and Liam Payne for their safe word (it’s ‘don’t stop’ apparently) to laying into poor Jesy from Little Mix about her new iconic Jamaican accent impression.
The ceremony was also dominated by two artists in particular; one whose breakout hit last year has seen her metamorphosis into a proper pop superstar and another who won the biggest award of the night and used both his platform and his voice to chastise Theresa May over Grenfell live on national TV.
Dua Lipa and Stormzy both took home two awards last night (Dua for British Female and Breakthrough, Stormz for British Male and Album of the Year) but they came away with much more, but using the stage to vocalise the fight against injustice, black excellence and also why you shouldn’t call your ex at 3am.
Even before the ceremony had begun, it was already Dua Lipa’s night. She’d been nominated for five BRITs, the most of any British female artist ever and also turned up in a dress that was so big you could fit most of Ed Sheeran’s fake humility inside.
Seeing her take to the stage to collect her awards, Dua preached on the power of women (‘we need more women on this stage and collecting awards’) and also brought up her younger brother and sister, so they could both ‘believe in magic’ (I started to believe in magic when I saw Dua’s incredibly youthful father on camera, but that’s another story).
She also triumphantly took to the stage amidst a cast of hundreds to re-create the music video for her breakthrough hit ‘New Rules’; a song so zeitgesit-y that it also managed to erase five previous singles and two and a half years of hard work in trying and failing to make Dua Lipa the next big thing by actually making her the next big thing. In every other performance, I’m pretty sure Dua looks a bit dead behind the eyes (‘New Rules’ is a very hard song to pull off convincingly live, btw) but for once, when she took to that stage in a tropical playsuit and a Britney-esque headset mic, she for once looked and felt like the future of pop music. So now would be the perfect time to re-release ‘Hotter Than Hell,’ cheers Dua.
No-one could argue, however, that Stormzy (rightfully, deservedly) stole the show by winning the biggest award of the night and also closing out the show with the most politically-charged, breathtaking performance the BRITs has seen since Jarvis Cocker mooned the camera whilst Michael Jackson pretended to be Jesus.
After ‘Gang Signs and Prayers’ walked away with the award for Best British Album (no mean feat considering its competition included Dua and, as Elton John calls him, Ed Shiraz) Stormzy took to the stage at first with a heartfelt rendition of gospel-banger ‘Blinded By Your Grace Pt.2’ but no-one could have expected what happened next.
(OK, he took his top off for one. i can see why Maya Jama sticks around.)
No-one was quite expecting for Stormz to go freestyle. I’m not even sure if the BRITs themselves were – the programme stated that he would be performing a medley of ‘Blinded…’ and ‘Big For Your Boots.’ But what came next was astounding. First, he took Theresa May to account over Grenfell; ‘Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell?” What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell ? You criminals, and you got the cheek to call us savages, you should do some jail time, you should pay some damages, we should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.’
Which, to be fair, is a more eloquent and potent attack at May and her government than anyone in the Opposition or the media has managed to come up with in two years.
It gets better, though, he went on to blast the gutter journalism of the Daily Mail (‘suck my _’ you can fill in the blank) and also celebrate black excellence in the UK, using model Jourdan Dunn and BAFTA-winning, Oscar-Nominated star Daniel Kaluuya as examples.
Dua Lipa and Stormzy started the BRITs as two of the most notable breakthrough acts in the British music scene over the past two years. They ended the show as two of our most passionate and vocal advocates and also proper national treasures. They showed just how powerful it is to actually use your position and your voice to speak up on important issues in a straight forward, no-holds-barred display of activism.
Long live Dua. Long live Stormy. Ed Sheeran didn’t win any of the major awards he was nominated for. Good night and God bless.
Words by George Griffiths