Thunderbolt wins, bombshell victories, and where-are-they-now moments...

Perhaps it hasn’t been the best start to the year. But through all the doom and gloom, we have reason to rejoice; 2020 is the 40th anniversary year of the Brit Awards!

On Tuesday (February 18th) the O2 Arena in London will be flooded – hopefully not by rainwater – but by the biggest and best names in the British music industry. Jack Whitehall will host the ceremony for the third year running, and there will be performances from stars of the moment Billie Eilish, Celeste, Lewis Capaldi, Dave, and Lizzo, to name a few.

If the last 40 years of Brits ceremonies are anything to go by, Tuesday night is set to be something special. It’s a chance to see the inescapable artists of 2019 pick up idiosyncratic helmeted trophies for their work that year. But with each awards ceremony come a few surprise winners.

In homage to these scrappy champions, we take a look back on the acts you won’t believe have won Brit Awards... 

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2011: Laura Marling – British Female Solo Artist

It was 2011 and folk music was having a moment. The likes of Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale, Johnny Flynn, and Emmy the Great were redefining acoustic songwriting, dragging it banjo and flat cap into the 21st Century.

When a very shocked Laura Marling won British Female Solo Artist in 2011, she accepted her award in a similar way to her music making: with honesty, humility and grace.

She also beat Cheryl, which restores faith somewhat.

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2004: The Darkness – Best British Group

It’s Tuesday night and you’re one step away from winning free drinks for a month at your local pub quiz, when you’re struck with this final tiebreaker:

Q: Name one other song by The Darkness that isn’t 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love' or that Christmas Song.

A: …….

You are forced to share the win, and the free drinks, with equally disappointed 'Let’s Get Quizzical'. The Darkness Best British Group in 2004? I’ll have half a lager please.

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1992: Phantom of the Opera – Best Soundtrack

The Best Soundtrack/Cast Recording was a Brit Award category 'till 2001, after which it mysteriously disappeared like a ghost in the night. Talking of which, 1992 saw Phantom of the Opera win that year’s Brit Award.

Considering past awards of the same category had gone to Trainspotting, Pulp Fiction and Buster, Phantom winning felt as out of place as David Cameron at Glastonbury.

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2010: JLS – British Single of the Year and British Breakthrough Act

No, your eyes are not deceiving you: 2010 was the year that JLS won not one, but two Brit Awards. Their Single of the Year was 'Beat Again', but July that same year also saw JLS topping charts with 'The Club Is Alive' – a Sound of Music inspired ditty that inspired the nation in return.

Maybe JLS was “just a phase”, but no, surprise! The band’s reunion has just been confirmed.

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1986: Paul Young – British Video of the Year

It’s an undeniable fact that Paul Young pulled it out the bag with 'Everytime You Go Away'. Written originally by Daryl Hall, the track was covered in Young’s enigmatic style: meaningful vocals, twinkling pianos, rhythmic synths. 80s pop perfection you could say.

The video sees Young staring forlornly down the camera as each scene fades hazily into the next – lamenting his girl leaving him. But we then cut to clips of Young live on stage: grinning as he throws his sweaty towel into throngs of crazed girls.

Then we are back again to Young’s morose, melodramatic finger clicking…. stranger things have not yet happened.

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2009: Duffy – British Breakthrough Act, British Album of the Year, British Female Solo Artist

In the red corner we have Adele – the nation’s sweetheart, the unconventional modern popstar who stunned the world to silence by singing about pavements. A veritable titan in British music. In the blue corner – Duffy, a relatively unknown 25 year old from Bangor whose hit, 'Mercy' shot to number one in singles charts worldwide.

Knockout! Duffy uppercuts for British Breakthrough Act, hooks for British Album of the Year and sucker punches to bring British Female Solo Artist home.

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2001: A1 – Best British Newcomer

When you think of the A1, you probably think of that dull stretch of road leading from London to Edinburgh. You are sorely mistaken. A1 in fact, were the proud recipients of the 2001 Brit award for Best British Newcomer – pipping Coldplay, Craig David, Toploader and Artful Dodger at the post.

Even though A1 haven’t quite enjoyed the same commercial successes as their fellow nominees today, they’re still alive and kicking – you can catch them play Portsmouth Guildhall this Spring.

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BRIT Awards takes place tomorrow night (February 18th).

Words: Sophie Church

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