The BRIT Awards with Mastercard took place this evening, Tuesday 11th May, a significant moment following the events of the past year, with an audience of just 4,000 people, of which included 2,500 key workers and their guests whose tickets were donated by the BRITs via a ballot.
In an explosion of colour and optimism, the night celebrated the achievements of British and international artists over the last 18 months, live from The O2 Arena in London, broadcast exclusively on ITV and ITV Hub and streamed on YouTube for non-UK viewers. The show saw a total of 11 awards handed out alongside nine unbeatable show-stopping performances, *six of which were able to be staged live in the room*
Each winner was presented with the BRITs first collaborative double-trophy as designed by two of the UK’s leading creatives Es Devlin OBE and Yinka Ilori MBE, with each recipient encouraged to re-gift the smaller trophy to someone else.
Hosted by Jack Whitehall, who kicked off the show with a hilarious Line of Duty skit featuring cast from the show along with Jackie Weaver, the show officially opened with a UK exclusive of Coldplay’s new song ‘Higher Power’, the band performing from a pontoon on the River Thames, with a burst of fireworks setting the 41st BRITs off with a bang.
The BRITs is known for its unique collaborations and this year was no different, with Elton John and Years & Years joining forces for a spectacular performance of the Pet Shop Boys’ classic ‘It’s A Sin’, the recorded version of which is now available to purchase as a single in support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation charity. This performance was teased on the artists’ and BRITs socials the day before, sparking mass speculation.
A second collaboration saw Rag’n’Bone Man and P!nk perform their new single ‘Anywhere Away from Here’, with P!nk joining remotely from the U.S., and a special guest appearance from the Greenwich and Lewisham NHS Trust Choir, providing an emotional climax to the show.
This year was truly Dua Lipa’s; as well as a London-themed medley performance which also saw her don a Union Jack designed outfit, votes cast by the 1500-strong BRITs academy saw her presented with Female Solo Artist as well as the highly coveted Mastercard Album award for her No. 1 album Future Nostalgia, bringing her total BRIT tally up to five.
This year’s Rising Star award winner Griff - who took to the stage for a stunning rendition of ‘Black Hole’ - was “handed the baton” by 2020’s Rising Star winner Celeste, herself up for three further awards this year.
Arlo Parks was crowned Breakthrough Artist, one of the three awards she was nominated for, after what has been an incredible year for the young London artist, and also made her debut BRITs performance with an elegant rendition of ‘Hope’, the set decorated as a sunflower field in a nod to the name of her debut album.
The most nominated girl band in BRITs history, Little Mix finally bagged the title of British Group, having been up for the award three previous times, and the International Group category followed a similar suit, with California’s HAIM in the room to accept their award. The Weeknd also emerged victorious in the International Male Solo Artist category, his award presented by former First Lady Michelle Obama via VT, and delivered an unforgettable performance of his US No. 1 single ‘Save Your Tears’, pre-recorded from the US.
The first female artist to win the highest BRITs accolade and the UK’s biggest selling artist of the year to date, Taylor Swift appeared in person to accept the special Global Icon award, which was presented by Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams.
Another US star who made it to The O2 was Olivia Rodrigo who lit up the stage with a performance of her stunning hit single Drivers Licence.
Twice nominated Headie One blew the audience away with a special performance of ‘Ain’t It Different’/’Princess Cuts’, joined by fellow nominees AJ Tracey and Young T & Bugsey.
Presenters on the night included: Annie Mac, Boy George, Celeste, Lewis Capaldi, Kurupt FM, Mabel.
Co-Chaired by Rebecca Allen (President EMI Records) and Selina Webb (EVP Universal Music UK), who oversaw the creative team which along with Devlin and Ilori also included BRITs TV Executive Producer Sally Wood, this year’s BRIT Awards was, in so many ways unlike any other year; with stringent Covid guidelines and regulations influencing all elements of the show, but in other ways; exactly what the BRITs is best known for - memorable performances, exclusive collaborations and unique on-stage moments.
The indoor ceremony and live show formed part of the Government’s scientific Events Research Programme, using enhanced testing approaches to examine how events can take place without the need for social distancing.
Working closely with the Government to adhere to safety guidelines, The BRITs, as the first live music show at The O2 in over a year, plays an important role in paving the way for the return of live music at scale as the UK emerges from the past year’s restrictions. Audience members were not required to be socially distanced or wear face coverings in the arena, but were required to follow existing Government guidance when travelling to the venue and adhere to rules set out by the event organisers. Attendees had to show proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter the venue, and as part of the wider scientific research on the trial events, all attendees have been asked to take a test post-event to gather further evidence on the safety of indoor settings, reduced social distancing and the removal of non-pharmaceutical interventions like face coverings, along with providing contact details for NHS Test and Trace to ensure everyone can be traced in the event of an audience member receiving a positive test after the event.
Mastercard returned as headline partner for the 23rd year, having supported The BRITs for over two decades, bringing cardholders closer to music through a range of priceless experiences – from tickets to The BRITs, or Priceless Surprises with some of the UK’s best loved artists. This year, Mastercard will continue to sponsor the much sought after Mastercard award, as well as British Single with Mastercard for the first time and is proud to carry on connecting people to priceless possibilities. Amazon Music is the Official Digital Music Partner for a second year and will host the Official BRIT Awards 2021 playlist as well as sponsor the Male and Female Solo Artist categories.
And The Winners Are…. (in order presented on the night)...
BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST (in association with TikTok)- Arlo Parks
Presenter: Maya Jama + Clara Amfo
BRITISH GROUP - Little Mix
Presenter: Adam Lambert, Sheridan Smith, Olly Murs
MALE SOLO ARTIST (in association with Amazon Music) - J Hus
Presenter: Kurupt FM
INTERNATIONAL FEMALE SOLO ARTIST - Billie Eilish
Presenter: Annie Mac
FEMALE SOLO ARTIST (in association with Amazon Music) - Dua Lipa
Presenter: Mabel & MNEK
INTERNATIONAL MALE SOLO ARTIST - The Weeknd
Presenter: Michelle Obama (VT)
INTERNATIONAL GROUP - HAIM
Presenter: Billy Porter
BRITs RISING STAR (supported by BBC Radio 1) - Griff
BRITISH SINGLE WITH MASTERCARD (Supported by Capital FM) - Harry Styles ‘Watermelon Sugar’
Presenter: Boy George
GLOBAL ICON - Taylor Swift
Presenter: Maisie Williams
MASTERCARD ALBUM - Dua Lipa ‘Future Nostalgia’
Presenter: Lewis Capaldi