So this week the BRIT awards were announced. I wrote up a brief article on who I think should have won the British Single of the Year award, but as for the other categories, I kept my suspicions reserved. I am not going to lie. There are a few decisions here that I totally disagree with. A handful I could understand, but quite a few of them I totally disagree on. I might as well just launch right into them.
BRITISH MALE SOLO ARTIST – ED SHEERAN
It is fairly tricky to be too angry at Ed Sheeran for walking away with the best male solo artist song. He is an incredible musician; there isn’t too many arguments on that front. He came out with his latest album this year and it was jam-packed with some cracking tunes. While they have moved away from the raw acoustic vibe that we fell in love with, when Sheeran first wandered into the public eye, it is hardly a bad set of songs. I had a strong nod towards Sheeran for picking up the Best Single award this year. At the same time, there were a few giants that I would have picked before Sheeran. George Ezra, Sam Smith, and even potentially Pablo Nutini, all got nominations, yet Sheeran walked away with the prize. Sheeran’s good – perhaps my personal favourite of the bunch – but does he have the resonance of Sam Smith? The originality of George Ezra? As I said, out of all of the winners, this is probably the least controversial, so I am just going to call this an interesting quirk of the evening and move forward with the list of winners.
BRITISH FEMALE SOLO ARTIST – PALOMA FAITH
I was a little confused when I saw the nomination, yet even more stumped when Paloma walked away with the winning title. Don’t get me wrong, Paloma is a fantastic musician. I have loved her ever since I heard New York, and her songs haven’t really lost steam since then. My problem with this award in 2015 is that… she has hardly been setting the world on fire this year, has she? I think the BRIT award should go to a singer or group that has been tearing up the year, totally dominating and making it their own. Someone who puts everyone else to shame. Paloma Faith has had two good songs in 2015: Only Love Hurts Like This is a terrific tune, and I suppose award-worthy, the one thing stopping me from being too angry over this one, but the other song ‘Changing’ is a duet with DJ Sigma, and while her vocals are great, I would be praising Sigma for the track over her. Looking at the other nominees, you have to admit that, focusing on this specific year, there were strong contenders. Ella Henderson, Jessie Ware… this winner is a little perplexing for me.
BRITISH GROUP – ROYAL BLOOD
This is an odd one for me. Royal Blood really don’t do my kind of music, so I am forced to try and look through my reservations and look for the talent. And yes, they are a very talented band. The vocals and rock go together hand in hand, complimenting each other. The beat is catchy and able to transport you into the music in a few moments. However, again, I look at the other nominees and wonder why they were dropped from the title place. Clean Bandits, of course, will always get my vote, their music being a strong element this year – you couldn’t escape them in 2015, which for me, is a clear hint that they should be picking up the award. Mind you, as long as One Direction didn’t win, I guess I can’t be too mad.
BRITISH BREAKTHROUGH ACT – SAM SMITH
Now this one, I agree with. It was a tough category, but Sam Smith is the clear winner. It makes the absence of him in the Best Male Solo Artist category a little easier to swallow. Smith had to walk away with something this year, because he has been such a highlight of 2015. I didn’t even jump on the bandwagon until much later, but eventually his charm was too hard to resist. Now, Like I Can and I’m Not the Only One are constantly being played on my iTunes library. Amazingly haunting vocals, original songs and so much stage presence, it is almost impossible to not give him the award.
BRITISH SINGLE – UPTOWN FUNK BY MARK RONSON & BRUNO MARS
Now, we start having problems. Uptown Funk was one of my least favourite songs out of all of the nominees. In fact, it was one of the few songs that I decided I would get upset if it won. Why? Well, it is a novelty song. It is a fun, catchy tune to dance to, and the joy of it is that it refuses to take itself seriously. It just finds a ridiculous beat, wears the funk genre like a badge of honour and sees what can be shaken out of the tree. I like it, but I don’t rate it as an ingenious piece of music. It is like Scary Movie winning an OSCAR, because that one joke made you laugh. I don’t want to come across as pretentious or stuck-up, but this song taking the title just dumbs down the whole ceremony. There were some great, original pieces that actually tried to make a worthwhile song, and they have been shot down… for what? A joke?
BRITISH ALBUM OF THE YEAR – X BY ED SHEERAN
Thankfully a worthy winner comes in to calm my rage down. There were some good albums this year, but none of them were quite as strong as X by Ed Sheeran. Again, I might have leaned more towards Sam Smith for the winner, but, Sheeran is a hard man to resist. His normality is just so endearing and his laidback style to music is refreshing. The man lives and breathes music: he writes the songs, crafts the music and then sings to it. Again, X marks a less acoustic side to the artist, which has annoyed a handful of his fans. However, seeing as he is constantly bringing out interesting covers on the side to fulfil the acoustic side of his music, I see X as an experimentation. No, better than that… proof that he isn’t just a one-genre guy. He tackles pop, rap and a good old power ballad with X, making it a varied, fresh album from the singer. The award is definitely yours, Ed.
INTERNATIONAL MALE SOLO ARTIST – PHARRELL WILLIAMS
This is a tricky one for me. Why was Pharrell nominated? Well, I am assuming that Happy is the obvious answer for that, but as me and my musically-inclined friends were debating, should that count? The conversation started when Happy was picked by a radio station as the unofficial Best Song of the year. It earned the most money on sales throughout the year, therefore commercially it deserved the prize. However, as far as I was concerned, Happy wasn’t legible for the victory, because it was released the year before. Despicable Me 2 came out in 2013, when the song was released, so surely it should be Song of the Year in 2013 not 2014. This counts double for the BRIT awards, which slips over into 2015, when it comes to nominations. This is a bit of a tricky one, because some songs slip under the radar with awards and popularity, so should this deny them a nomination? At the same time, Happy has hardly been slipping under the radar. In fact, I am pretty sure it was a contender for the BRITs in 2014, which should count as a definite no, for any sway in the 2015 BRITs. Saying that, Pharrell has released enough good songs to be worthy of approval, and even if the other nominations are looking a lot stronger – Hozier for crying out loud! – this settles a lot better than…
INTERNATIONAL FEMALE SOLO ARTIST – TAYLOR SWIFT
Come on! At least Taylor has been present this year, I suppose. However, her music this year has been OK to say the least. I used to really like Taylor Swift, as a really old article of mine debates. Her music was a soft country style that I felt was easy to listen to, and at the time, a massive gap in the market. However, slowly we have become subject to a massive commercialisation of the singer to the point, where she is a shadow of her former self. This year saw Taylor Swift become a full on pop star. ‘Shake it Off’ is catchy but the lyrics could have been written on a bus ride to the recording studio. Blank Space is a definite miss from the singer, a reasonable chorus bogged down by a lazy group of verses. Sure, she has been a present figure this year, which is more than can be said for a few of the nominated people here, but this hasn’t been Taylor Swift at the top of her game. You want the BRIT award to mean something and if we are handing it to a singer that churns out music, rather than taking the time to properly sit down and write something, then I begin to lose faith with the whole ceremony altogether.
INTERNATIONAL GROUP – FOO FIGHTERS
Not sure how I feel about this. At the very least, I can’t take anything away from the talent that Foo Fighters have. They are the fore-runners of their genre and when it comes to rock, they are a powerhouse. They have also brought out an album, so they have been around this year. It isn’t as though they have somehow brought out a few songs and lucked out with a nomination. At the same time, is this the best we have seen them? I don’t think it is. Their latest album, Sonic Highways, is a good showcase to their talent and a solid entry in their discography, but if you were going to show someone who had never heard the Foo Fighters before, one of their songs, you wouldn’t pick this album. Good, but not quite award-worthy.