Words: Dylan Murphy
Having been postponed for a number of months, The BRIT Awards returned with a 4,000 strong in-person event providing a blueprint for further events in the UK and Ireland as the vaccination process continues.
There’s just some things you love to see. Calling out the Tories? Check. Women finally getting their flowers after years of being ignored? Check. Thousands of people enjoying live music with not a mask in sight? Check.
The 2021 BRIT Awards saw around 4,000 people make their way to London’s O2 Arena for a night that could nearly have been mistaken for any other awards show before March 2020. Mass testing before the event made it all possible and the live performances, albeit with a few virtual ones, didn’t disappoint.
If you missed the proceedings whilst getting in one of your five daily walks, don’t worry we tuned in and covered everything you need to know.
Last year, The BRIT Awards came under fire for their frankly pathetic gender bias.
Across 25 nomination slots, there was space for just one British woman in mixed-gender categories. However, this year saw a sharp U-turn in proceedings with Little Mix becoming the first girl band to win best British group, Haim becoming the first all-female group to win the award for International Group since Destiny’s Child way back in 2002, Arlo Parks nabbed the Breakthrough Artist Award and Dua Lipa winning the award for Female Solo Artist and Mastercard Album.
Speaking on Little Mix’s historic win, Leigh-Anne Pinnock said, “It’s not easy, being a female in the UK pop industry”.
“We’ve seen white male dominance, misogyny and sexism, and a lack of diversity.
We’re proud that we’ve stuck together, surrounded ourselves with strong women and are now using our voices more than ever.”
Jade Thirlwall added, “The fact that a girl band has never won this award really does speak volumes… So this award isn’t just for us, it’s for the Spice Girls, Sugababes, All Saints, Girls Aloud.”
4,000 people were invited as part of the audience for the 2021 edition of The BRITS, with more than half of that made up of key workers. Acting as another test exercise following the success of the 5,000 strong event in Liverpool, all members of the crowd in London’s O2 Arena were tested prior to proceedings.
While masks and social distancing were not mandatory, there were still some indicators that there is still some way to go, even in the financial powerhouse that is the music industry.
Taylor Swift may have made an in-person appearance, but The Weekend provided a pre-recorded performance that brought any free-running expectations back down to earth.
Hot off the back of Tion Wayne and Russ Millions’ single ‘Body’ becoming the first UK drill single to hit number one in the UK charts, Headie One further cemented the genre’s place in mainstream music and culture.
Taking to the stage for a medley of tracks including ‘Ain’t It Different’ with AJ Tracey, the Tottenham rapper brought an additional sauce to track that hit number two in the charts with new lyrics that took aim at Boris Johnston and challenged the ongoing demonisation of the genre.
“What else can a drill youth rap about part from my worst days,” Headie rapped over a twisted reworking of the original beat.
“You see me on stage but I was in jail for three of my birthdays.”
“Two black Brits stand here at the Brits but still we ain’t seen as British“
“The government is saying eat out to help out but won’t help out Rashford when he’s feeding the youths“.
It appears that the genre in approaching a golden age and with TikTok filled to the rafters with its sounds and new artists gravitating towards more accessible iterations of the genre, it’s only the beginning of drill’s mainstream takeover.
The cultural omnipresent force that is Shitlondonguinness has had every bar tender looking over their shoulder since the reopening of pubs.
However, that didn’t stop The BRITs serving Dublin group Fontaines D.C a pint of black in a flower vase.
Get in the bin.
British female: Dua Lipa
British male: J Hus
British group: Little Mix
Breakthrough artist: Arlo Parks
British single: Harry Styles – Watermelon Sugar
British album: Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
International female: Billie Eilish
International male: The Weeknd
International group: Haim
Global icon: Taylor Swift
Rising star: Griff