The 10 best moments in BRIT Awards history

From political protests to on-stage gaffes and career-defining performances (plus, er, Rihanna linking up with Klaxons), these are the moments we'll never forget

Featuring a brigade of minor celebrities strutting the red carpet, some wild musical performances and a procession of gushing chart stars accepting awards, getting through the BRITs can, occasionally, feel like music’s answer to completing a Tough Mudder challenge, or at least a measure of one’s stamina.

That said, the annual awards ceremony has also been a regular fixture for decades now, and along with the more forgettable moments, it has witnessed some serious musical history along the way. Fingers crossed, then, that this year’s event – which will take place at The O2 in London this week (February 11) and promises live performances from Lizzo, Wet Leg and Harry Styles –lives up to the hype.

From the most surreal Rihanna collaboration of all time to Jarvis Cocker‘s stage invasion, these are the 10 best moments in BRITs history.

“The KLF have now left the music industry” (1992)

Billed alongside such truly thrilling acts as Extreme, Seal and Simply Red, electronic pranksters The KLF decided to troll the Hammersmith Odeon when they found themselves at the middle of an entirely beige sandwich at the ‘92 BRITs. Accompanied by Ipswich crust-punks Extreme Noise Terror, The KLF performed a barely recognisable version of their acid-house single ‘3am Eternal’. Between puffs of a cigar, Bill Drummond spat out new, barely audible lyrics that took aim at the BRITs and television – the performance ended with Drummond firing machine gun blanks into the audience, and an announcement: “The KLF have now left the music industry.”

Afterwards The KLF fled the venue, sent a motorbike courier to pick up their gong for Best British Group and reportedly left a dead sheep outside an after-party. “[We] planned to throw buckets of blood over the audience during the performance – what larks! – but we were advised not to by BBC lawyers,” they later told Smash Hits.

Jarvis moons ‘Earth Song’ (1996)

When Michael Jackson rocked up at the 1996 BRITs with his overwrought ‘Earth Song’, Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker thoughtfully decided to provide the moon. During a particularly nauseating section in which Jackson shone with bright white light, modelling himself as a kind of Jesus, Cocker invaded the stage and did a theatrical ‘bend and waft’ motion.

“I was just sat there watching it and feeling a bit ill, ’cause he’s there doing his Jesus act,” Cocker later told TFI Friday. “It seemed to me there were a lot of other people who kind of found it distasteful as well, and I just thought: ‘The stage is there, I’m here and you can actually just do something about it and say ‘This is a load of rubbish’, if you wanted’.”

Geri’s Union Jack dress (1997)

For their 1997 performance of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, The Spice Girls took the ceremony’s namesake literally, with Geri Halliwell wearing her now-iconic Union Jack dress. As the outfit choice alone has gone down in BRITs history, it’s easy to forget that the group’s performance was relatively low-production – forget your snazzy lighting, gimmicky stage props, high-concept video screens and backing dancers. Instead, this was all about the Spice Girls: swinging, shaking, moving and making cultural history at the peak of their (girl) powers.


Rihanna’s unlikely new rave project (2008)

In a year splattered with fluorescent glow-stick goo and stoked by the fading embers of new rave, ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’-era Rihanna and recent Mercury Prize-winners Klaxons teamed up for a gloriously chaotic mash-up of their biggest hits: ‘Umbrella’ and ‘Golden Skans’.

Perhaps it’s no accident that RiRi fully grasped the brief immediately by fully immersing herself in the ridiculousness of it all with green lasers and an illustrious cape. Whatever next, Lil Nas X featuring Sports Team?

Amy Winehouse shakes up a ceremony focused on pop polish (2008)

Elsewhere at the 2008 BRITs, safely away from the neon hair dye the late Amy Winehouse sang twice – a year after taking home Best British Female Artist. Though a lone performance of ‘Love Is A Losing Game’ transformed Earls Court into a smoky jazz club, Winehouse’s rendition of her Zutons cover ‘Valerie’ was the moment that stole the show.

Performed as part of a Mark Ronson Presents… medley (also featuring Adele and, er, Daniel Merriweather), Winehouse commanded the stage the moment she stepped out, bringing vocal grit, spontaneity and creativity to a ceremony that usually focuses on pop polish.

Adele silences a notoriously rowdy room (2011)

Released just prior to her 2011 BRITs performance, Adele’s second LP ‘21’ went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time – and there’s no doubt that this flawless rendition of ‘Someone Like You’ helped flog at least few copies.

Backed by a lone grand piano with the lights dimmed, the Londoner’s powerhouse voice took centre stage at The O2 as the room fell completely silent. Later, she would go on to command the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, which she headlined in 2016. This was arguably the performance, though, that proved Adele was capable of casting magical hush over a raucous crowd.

The two tumbles (2015, 2017)

Somebody needs to have a stern word with whoever’s responsible for polishing the stage at The O2, because we’ve witnessed two big slip-ups in recent years. In 2017, Katy Perry performed ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ while surrounded by little trotting cardboard houses and a pair of skeletons resembling Donald Trump and Theresa May. Amid the choreographed kerfuffle, though, one of the tiny houses plunged off the side of the stage – a damning, if accidental, metaphor for the falling rates of home ownership.

Back in 2015, the actual Queen of Pop fell backwards down a flight of stairs mid-performance after her Armani cape fastening got stuck. Though Madonna’s BRITs fall remains one of the worst tumbles in recent awards history, she still pulled off the performance after dusting herself off and carrying on. “No more capes,” she later vowed.


Este Haim, AKA “Mystery Drunk Woman” (2018)

During host Jack Whitehall’s slightly awkward interview with Liam Payne and Cheryl, eagle-eyed viewers at home quickly honed in on something far more interesting: Este Haim repeatedly winking at the camera, slathering on lip gloss and mouthing “call me” while her bandmates laughed uncontrollably in the background.

Clearly not clued-up on that year’s International Group nominees, a series of publications later labelled Este the “mystery drunk woman”. The bassist later clarified: “Not drunk, just living my truth.”

Stormzy highlights a vital political cause (2018)

“Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell?” demanded a rain-drenched Stormzy at the 2018 BRITs, eight months after 72 people were killed in a fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, London. Following the disaster, families left homeless by the fire waited months – in some cases, years – to be rehoused. Across the UK, thousands still live in high-rises similar to Grenfell, which are covered in the same flammable cladding.

The rapper’s performance, meanwhile, directly criticised the UK government’s response and was charged with focused anger. “You should do some jail time, you should pay some damages,” he said. “We should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.”

Dave’s transformation into a guitar hero (2022)

Dave closed the show at the 2022 BRIT Awards in triumphant fashion. During a show-stopping performance of ‘In The Fire’ that saw him play both piano and a flame-throwing guitar, he shared the stage with grime heroes like Ghetts and Giggs as well as rising stars Meekz and Fredo. A fitting and memorable performance from the 2022 winner of the Best Hip Hop/Grime/Rap Act award.