The first thing that strikes you is the lack of glamour.
The ITV studios in London are located in a curious building, more brutal than Brutalist. A factory for the famous, being lead around its winding stairways and long corridors is a little like strolling through some surreal high school occupied solely by adults.
Newly televised (this is the first time the event has hit the idiot box) the BRIT Awards nominations show harks back towards a familiar set up. Music industry types (such as us lot) are granted a space on the floor, while enthusiastic youngsters are placed on the mezzanine. Just to make things look exciting and energetic for the viewers at home, a smattering of said youngsters are invited down to the front of the stage – presumably to block out the visage of radio pluggers, PRs and jaded hacks.
It’s an odd atmosphere. There’s no free booze (a much maligned fact amongst those on the floor) and the television format – shot slightly out of sync, with repeated takes for fluffed lines – disrupts the flow slightly.
Yet, somehow, it all comes together. Rudimental are the first to perform and the Hackney group are perhaps the perfect opening act. The kids scream, the industry types shuffle awkwardly and host Nick Grimshaw appears, microphone in hand and quiff extending towards the skylights.
Tom Odell struggles through a quick interview, perhaps suitably clad in a beige jacket, as a segment to introduce the BRIT Critics Choice award. This year’s winner Sam Smith readies himself to perform, and the symmetry is complete when the Disclosure collaborator appears wearing EXACTLY THE SAME COAT. Does the Critics Choice award come with a free jacket? We demand answers.
As the show goes on, though, the energy begins to lag. The industry types – clearly refusing to believe that ‘no free booze’ means exactly that – eventually grasp the truth and shuffle towards the door. The BRIT School kids do their best to maintain the noise levels as the crowd dissipates, while the live performances continue to inject some colour.
Pixie Lott marks her re-appearance with a scant pink uniform, while Tinie Tempah grabs the mic for a medley. Is he really Tinie, you ask? Well, not quite. Nowhere near as small as Tinchy Stryder, for example, who in turn towers above MIK. Grime: a genre for the shortstop.
After a few final links, some fluffed lines and the odd (sometimes extremely odd) interview; the show draws to a close. It’s an odd affair – entirely artificial, yet at times engaging. Fun, even.
It’s a little like Boiler Room, yet replacing the anarchy of live online broadcasting with something approaching a schedule. Oh, and some unashamed enthusiasm. Somehow, when music gets cool, the fun often gets squeezed out.
Ultimately, though, it’s a missed opportunity on many levels. For one, the lack of fans, of genuine punters, gives the event an alien, slightly cold feel. For another, it simply proves an age-old argument: that a weekly music show, focussing on the charts and handled in the right manner, could well continue to succeed.
The BRIT Awards takes place on February 19th.
Words: Robin Murray
Photo: JM International
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