A History Of Brit Awards Performances: 5 Triumphs, 5 Massive Fails

“Do you remember when Joss Stone won Best Female Solo artist in 2005?” said no one, ever. If there’s one thing you think of when the BRITs are mentioned, it’s almost certainly not the winners. It’s probably Jarvis Cocker wiggling his bum at a messianic-looking Michael Jackson? Ginger Spice’s union jack dress? More recently, it might be the time host James Corden interrupted trillion-selling saviour of the music industry Adele so the TV show could cut to a commercial break. Moments of controversy or mock-outrage aside, it’s most likely the performances that linger in the mind, but for an awards show that sometimes gets it so spot on – PJ Harvey duetting with Bjork, for example – the live show is just as capable of spectacularly misfiring. This year, performers include Royal Blood, who may win an army of new fans, Taylor Swift, who’ll likely to steal the show, and Madonna, who will probably try to steal the following day’s headlines. For now, check out five of the best performances below, alongside five of the very worst.

The KLF (1992)
Often the BRITs are accused of not being rock’n’roll enough. Watch The KLF’s Bill Drummond team up with Extreme Noise Terror before firing a machine gun over the heads of the audience and say that. Thumbs up.

Michael Jackson (1996)
Because this moment is so famous for Jarvis Cocker’s intervention, the sheer horror of the actual performance, which had Jackson posing as Jesus and clutching his groin while lots of frightened children looked on, is unfairly overlooked. Thumbs down.

Suede (1993)
Back in the early 1990s, NME accused the BRITs of not recognising new music. Step up Suede, in particular snake-hipped Brett Anderson in 1993, who showed the old guard what they’d been missing. Thumbs up.


Boyzone (1999)
Some things are so easy to criticise it seems unfair, but Boyzone screeching through a Billy Ocean cover while dancers dressed as boxers prance around in the background is simply beyond any kind of defence. Thumbs down.

PJ Harvey and Bjork (1995)
Sometimes TV performances need big productions to stand out. Other times, you just need two maverick talents and a guitar. One of the few BRITs collaborations that have worked. Thumbs up.


Ali G and Shaggy (2002)
A joke without a punchline. Has anything dated as badly as this collaboration? And given the number of almost-naked dancers and fully clothed men, it seems like it could’ve been from 1972, not 2002. Shockingly bad. Thumbs down.

Blur (2012)
They’re gearing up for a new album and live shows, but back in 2012 Blur received the award for Outstanding Contribution. The performance was proof, if there had been any doubt, that they were worthy of it. Thumbs up.

B*Witched, Billie Piper and others – Abba Tribute
No matter what you think of Abba’s music, the Swedish stars don’t deserve a tribute from Billie Piper, B*Witched, Steps, Tina Cousins and Cleopatra. No one does. Thumbs down.


Arctic Monkeys (2014)
The year was more famous for Alex Turner’s ‘rock’n’roll won’t die’ acceptance speech, but the spectacular performance was far more interesting. Thumbs up.


U2 (2009)
This is just embarrassing for everyone involved, really. Thumbs down.