The Brit Awards – Have They Finally Been Reinvented?

So, what did you think? Last night’s Brit Awards, the all-new, O2-housed, Corden-fronted shebang, were presented as a new start for the oft-maligned do, a break from the fake plasticky nonsense we’ve sat through for too many years – a ceremony that’s All About The Music.

And on the whole, it sort of was. Sure, little Legohead Justin Bieber got a gong, Take That turned up with riot police and millions of men in tiny whiteys (the rozzers one of two nods to UK kettling), and Cheryl Cole presented an award. But that lot aside, the Brit Awards 2011 were a more interesting prospect than we’ve seen in some time.

Mumford & Sons at the Brits

In fact, they took their quest for authenticity to admirable extremes, giving folk rock not one but two nods (Mumford & Sons’ British Album and Laura Marling’s British Female Solo Artist award) and bestowing two Vivienne Westwoods on Arcade Fire, a band we all love but who must be unknown to most of ITV’s demographic. (The group were even subject to a Who Is Arcade Fire tumblr after the Grammys wins). I missed Peter Andre’s chat with Win Butler on the red carpet but I’m sure he’s a massive fan.

Arcade Fire at The Brits

Jesse J, Plan B, Cee Lo, Rihanna – the winners were mostly all worthy, and some credible acts were invited onto the stage. Arcade Fire’s ‘Ready To Start’ was a cacophonous shot in the arm for the ceremony and Mumford’s cosy campfirey session worked pretty well. Even Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ (bear with me here) wasn’t that bad, the singer nervously displaying to 20,000 people why she’s top of umpteen charts across the globe in a hailstorm of glitter. Cast your mind back to last year’s ceremony, which saw Cheryl Cole miming, JLS preening through ‘Beat Again’ and a Robbie fucking Williams medley. Progress has definitely been made.

That’s not to say this was an all-round triumph. Celebs were a little thin on the ground (Lewis Hamilton and Boris Becker presenting awards, Boy George feted as the biggest icon in the room, Alan Carr taking a slash next to us) and even the indoor fireworks didn’t spark quite the excitement we’d been led to expect. James Corden, meanwhile, was as predictably autocue as expected, his piss-taking of the Bieber and Mark Ronson about as edgy as it got. That said, I’d take last night over having to watch Lady Gaga climb out of a uterus.

For better or worse, it felt like a very British affair (and not just because of the weird Jubilee-party-in-Battersea Union Jack bunting on the way in). Plan B, who ran through bits and bobs from ‘The Defamation Of Strickland Banks’ with the help of more riot police and a guy on fire, is as UK at a battered saveloy while Laura Marling’s embarrassed foot shuffling was quintessentially English. Even US soul man Cee Lo couldn’t do ‘Forget You’ without Paloma Faith’s caterwaul alongside.

Cee Lo at The Brits

Tinie Tempah, meanwhile, represents the best UK urban pop has mustered of late. His two wins, voted for by listeners of Radio 2 (British Breakthrough) and Capital Radio (Best Single), demonstrate he’s got pretty much every section of the country sewn up. Needs to work on the acceptance speech though. And then there was Robbie Williams saying “shabba” in public and reminding the Brits not to forget their roots completely.

What did you think? Did the right people win, and has the Brits successfully reinvented itself?

The Brit Awards – all the winners, losers and performers