At the danger of sounding trite, American awards reveals are of their flop period. (Unless, in fact, the present is hosted by BET. In that case, it’s in all probability very entertaining.) Last weekend’s Oscars sucked for loads of causes that had nothing to do with Will Smith attacking somebody after which giving a discomforting, snot-filled speech. Earlier this yr, the Golden Globes have been held in a basement someplace and introduced on Twitter, with no hope of returning to community tv. The so-rarely related VMAs could or could not nonetheless occur yearly. And the Grammys have spent the previous decade handing out hip-hop awards to Macklemore, fielding accusations of voter fraud, and telling the ladies they routinely snub to work tougher.
Of all the celebrated awards reveals, the Grammys appears probably the most devoted to planting itself on the flawed facet of historical past yr after yr. However, I’d prefer to suppose that the precise handing out of trophies could be so much simpler to eat if the ceremony wasn’t so horrible on a manufacturing stage.
For the previous decade, a minimum of, the normally three-hour-long CBS telecast has constantly featured a number of befuddling parts. There’s the boringly well mannered and inoffensive host whose major job is to elucidate how music works, as if everybody watching is a Martian. Save for final yr’s first post-pandemic ceremony, there are normally a number of head-scratching mash-up performances that includes a pair of nominated artists and generally an older, extra established musician (who can neglect the Jonas Brothers and Stevie Wonder singing “Burnin’ Up” collectively?). Then there are the random tribute performances that don’t at all times coincide with notable anniversaries, like when Usher and FKA Twigs commemorated Prince 4 years after his loss of life or when Jennifer Lopez was curiously chosen to carry out a Motown medley.
Additionally, the sheer quantity of performances packed into current years’ reveals have been staggering, making so lots of them—even by probably the most attention-grabbing and gifted artists—forgettable by the top of the evening. After the 2020 ceremony, which felt like a unending charity live performance with a whooping 22 performances, viewers on social media joked that solely three awards had been given out the complete night. Last yr’s post-pandemic present was barely extra balanced on that entrance, however lots of the performers have been sandwiched collectively all through the evening in a method that diminished the influence of their particular person showcases.
At a time when rankings for the Grammys are persevering with to plummet, I imagine the Recording Academy has no different alternative than to look to the BRIT Awards for steering.
I began watching livestreams of the BRITs again after I was an ardent One Direction fan and the boy band was a outstanding presence on the London-based telecast. The present launched me to up-and-coming pop artists like Olly Murs, Disclosure, Labrinth, Ella Eyre, Jess Glynne, and Emeli Sandé, who I could not have identified or a minimum of cared about if I wasn’t tuning in. I acquired to witness wonderful performances from American music staples like Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, and Katy Perry that didn’t appear in any respect possible on an American telecast (extra on that later). It’s additionally one of many solely ceremonies I’ve seen acknowledge the musical contributions of Rita Ora. Needless to say, the present has at all times had a powerful influence on me.
Like the Grammys, the BRIT Awards have had some inside points play out in public—a few of which have been corrected. But total, it’s lengthy been a extra revolutionary, exuberant, and progressive broadcast in comparison with what CBS has to supply.
“Side by side with a BRIT Award, the Grammys’ miniature gramophone, although an unquestionably iconic image, looks like a sad Christmas ornament from Dollar Tree.”
On a primary however essential be aware, the BRITs have at all times been the superior awards present to look at. The Grammys, endlessly shackled to hideous brassy, metallic tones, have tried to include a extra vibrant, colourful palette into its graphics over the previous three years. But they nonetheless lack the sleekness and character you get from the BRITs’ constantly stylish and inventive aesthetic. The Britannia statuette is especially gorgeous, receiving redesigns from British artwork and vogue luminaries like Vivienne Westwood, Peter Blake, Damien Hurst, and, this yr, Sir Anish Kapoor, that encourage the visuals for the remainder of the present. Side by facet with a BRIT Award, the Grammys’ miniature gramophone, though an unquestionably iconic picture, appears like a tragic Christmas decoration from Dollar Tree.
Another main benefit the BRITs have over the Grammys is the dimensions of the performances and what the telecast permits every artist to showcase. I’ve at all times appreciated that performers on the BRITs are given the complete stage in London’s O2 Arena (plus a runway) to create a singular and immersive visible expertise—in contrast to on the Grammys, the place the artists are sectioned off to totally different items of the stage and may’t actually flex their artistic muscle tissues (until you’re Beyoncé, in fact).
Some standout productions on the BRITs embrace Kanye’s rowdy 2015 efficiency of “All Day,” which featured outstanding grime artists like Skepta and Krept & Konan, tons of awe-inspiring pyrotechnics, and a slew of uncensored curse phrases. A private favourite of mine is Little Mix’s futuristic rendition of “Shout Out to My Ex” in 2017, bolstered by Janet Jackson-esque choreography and a bunch of shirtless males painted silver. Last yr, Dua Lipa carried out a show-stopping medley of her singles from Future Nostalgia that felt such as you have been watching a recent MGM musical. And who can neglect Kylie Minogue rising from an enormous stereo on the 2002 ceremony to sing “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” like a disco Barbie doll come to life?
Presumably, one of many causes performers on the BRITs are allowed to execute these grand inventive prospers is as a result of the published seemingly isn’t involved about internet hosting as many artists as attainable in an try to maximise viewership, regardless of the present’s rankings additionally declining yearly. This is solely the fact of awards reveals in an period the place there’s one million different issues to observe, and the BRIT Awards, a minimum of from the way it seems, have accepted their destiny, staying true to a long-practiced system. Overall, the BRITs are way more selective, considerate, and targeted on the standard, not the amount, of the performances they curate.
Finally, it’s good to know that the celebrities within the viewers of any given awards present are literally having a great time. That’s why the Golden Globes, regardless of the quantity of deserved scrutiny they’ve lately accrued, have been so important to our awards present ecosystem within the U.S. Like that NBC broadcast, honored friends on the BRITs are seated comfortably at round tables the place they’re served a seemingly beneficiant provide of alcohol (see: boozy acceptance speeches by Adele and Arctic Monkeys), versus the unsupportive folding chairs even a really pregnant Beyoncé needed to sit in for three-and-a-half grueling hours on the 2017 Grammys.
On a radio present final yr, British famous person Ed Sheeran—who has years of expertise attending the Grammys, VMAs, Billboard Music Awards, and just about each different American music bash—confirmed my suspicions that the tradition at awards reveals throughout the pond is so much much less tense.
“The room is filled with resentment and hatred towards everyone else and it’s quite an uncomfortable atmosphere,” the “Bad Habits” singer stated on The Julia Show about American ceremonies. “In England, our award shows are just like, everyone gets drunk and no one really cares who wins or loses. It’s just sort of a good night out.”
History has confirmed as a lot, given the quantity of stage invasions, altercations, and different chaotic incidents which have occurred in years previous on the BRITs that make Will Smith’s slap seem to be regular awards present etiquette. All in all, I’m positive there are many British viewers who will inform me that the BRIT Awards are completely horrible and in want of main reform. But the present’s free, vibrant vitality—which it maintains whereas additionally managing to really feel vital and grand—is one thing the Grammys desperately wants in its present stage of self-seriousness, over-strategizing, and banal gestures concerning social points. It’s about time for the present to step up.