Performances come from Gregory Porter, George Ezra, Tom Jones and others
Pharrell was the big winner at the first ever BBC Music Awards, which took place tonight (December 11) at London’s Earl’s Court.
Williams took home two of the ceremony’s four awards, despite not being present. Picking up International Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for ‘Happy’, he accepted the prizes via video link from the set of the US version of The Voice, where they were handed to him by No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani.
Gallery: 12 Glitzy Photos From The First Ever BBC Music Awards
Speaking about the ceremony upon collecting his International Artist of the Year award, Williams said, “these things happen in the UK because you guys love music first and foremost.” He went on to thank the “countless amazing British fans who have lifted my life to unbelievable heights”.
Later, Idris Elba appeared on stage to present the award for Song Of the Year, which was voted for during the course of the day by BBC viewers and listeners. ‘Happy’ beat competition from tracks including Kiezsa’s ‘Hideaway’, Lorde’s ‘Royals’ and Sam Smith’s ‘Money On My Mind’.
Collecting the award, Pharrell said, “Thank you Gwen, first of all I just want to say how amazing it is to have a song that’s considered amongst all those amazing songs.” Continuing to enthuse about the UK, he said: “Every other experience you’ve gifted me with was great artists and great writers. Seriously, God bless the UK.”
The other two awards went to Ed Sheeran, who took home the big prize of British Artist Of The Year, and Catfish & The Bottlemen, who picked up a surprise BBC Introducing Award. “It’s madness,” said frontman Van McCann. “Alright arena! It’ll go on my dad’s fridge that.” Asked how it was to win the award, he shouted out to 6Music DJ Steve Lamacq, saying, “It’s massive for us. Steve’s supported us since we were 14, so big up to him.” He went on to tell host Fearne Cotton she looked like The Little Mermaid.
Hosted by Cotton, of BBC Radio 1, and Radio 2’s Chris Evans, the event placed a focus on live performance. Coldplay opened the show with ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’, which saw Chris Martin singing while bounding from the backstage area to the stage. When he emerged, glowing wristbands handed out to the 13,500-strong audience – like those seen on the band’s last world tour – flashed in unison. Glitter dropped from the rafters as the performance concluded.
Ella Henderson and Labrinth performed a medley of each others’ ‘Jealous’ and ‘Ghost’. Clean Bandit performed with a string section while Gregory Porter employed the BBC concert orchestra for his cover of ‘Feeling Good’, which merged into ‘Liquid Spirit’.
A nervous-looking George Ezra appeared next to perform his hit ‘Budapest’. Following it, One Direction’s performance of ‘Steal My Girl’ was preceded by a video clip that revealed Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood to be an unlikely admirer, having seen them at the Hollywood Bowl. The group were presented with a Billboard plaque for hitting Number One in the US with their first four albums.
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Performances followed from Ed Sheeran, who played his 2014 hit ‘Sing’, and Paloma Faith and Sigma. Take That’s performance of ‘These Days’ saw the band surrounded with a cast of dancers and neon lights, and Will.i.am appeared with guest Cody Williams.
The show concluded with Tom Jones and Paloma Faith singing BBC Music theme ‘God Only Knows’ accompanied by a 200 strong choir.