Tales from the tables: What you might have missed at the NME Awards 2020

Taylor Swift hailed them as the “craziest awards” ever

Taylor Swift hailed the NME Awards 2020 as the “craziest awards show I’ve ever been to”, and she was, as ever, completely right. Not only did the shindig boast epic performances from the likes of AJ Tracey, Yungblud, Beabadoobee and FKA twigs, it also saw surreal sights you wouldn’t expect to see, as the glitterati of pop, indie and beyond descended on the O2 Academy Brixton.

The show is renowned for wild moments – such as Oli Sykes destroying Coldplay’s table, Russell Brand and Bob Geldof’s beef,  and a Cribs member being hospitalised (twice in one evening, a plot-line Holby City has regrettably yet to pilfer) – and the latest was no exception. With tables groaning with booze, the possibilities for chaos were as endless as the amount of winners joking on their tables that they were going to “shove the trophy [an iconic raised finger statuette] up my arse” – replete with zealous charades style acting-out just to really er, ram home the point.


But now that everybody’s hangovers have faded (although admittedly some are going to last tortuously longer than the Brexit negotiations), let’s take stock. Beats 1 presenter Julie Adenuga along with comedian and former NME columnist Katherine Ryan set the tone as exquisite masters of ceremonies – with the latter delivering a series of one-liners that made Jack Whitehall at the Brits look as toothless as a posh baby otter. Introducing the Best New British Act, she quipped:  “What’s new and British? Besides blue passports and a general atmosphere of hostility?” while she flagged up Best New Act In The World with the gag: “Everyone loves something fresh and exciting and new – except Prince Andrew”. At this point, everyone fittingly spit out their Pizza Express.

“What’s new and British? Besides blue passports and a general atmosphere of hostility” – Katherine Ryan

Sitting on a table at the Awards inevitably means an act is eventually going to clamber over it during a performance like it’s a Ninja Warrior assault course and sure enough, gin and personal possessions were sent spiralling into the air  from the get go. But like a turbo-charged wedding reception, the seating plan also offered up unusual combinations (and potential  future What’sApp Groups) – such as Songwriter of the Decade Robyn sitting next to Cambridge indie chaps Sports Team, Maccabees‘ Felix White chewing the fat with German pop star Kim Petras, and Nick Grimshaw remarking that “I thought the night couldn’t get any weirder than sharing a Sloppy Giuseppe with Courtney Love”.

It also meant old friends could catch up – such as Slowthai vaulting over the red carpet barrier to gatecrash Fontaines D.C.’s interview screaming ‘”Fountaiiinnnes!” or Charli XCX, Christine + The Queens, and Robyn wandering around looking like a pop Yalta Conference or  the best remake of Charlie’s Angels that’s yet to happen. Or Yungblud, taking a stroll while brilliantly holding pop acts to a higher sartorial standard – putting even the Sink The Pink drag queens in the shade by heroically looking like the offspring of Jim Carrey from The Mask and Cher from Clueless (or as if his parents yelled Beetlejuice three times before he was conceived). We even caught him sitting on the lap of Yannis from Foals.

It ramped up the possibilities for high-jinx. It meant that acts could meet their heroes –  Clairo thought she “was she was going to die” when she saw Robyn, while The Actual Robert Smith was being asked for his photo all night. Foals looked like kids meeting Santa when they got their snap with The Cure legend.

Fontaines DC put their heads in the hands and took a fag break during Easy Life CROONING Maroon 5’s ‘She Will Be Loved’

“Fountaiiiiiinnnesss!” were having a fun time – until Easy Life won Best New British Band Supported By Nordoff Robbins, that is. In lieu of an acceptance speech, frontman Murray Matravers serenaded the crowd with a cover of Maroon 5’s ‘She Will Be Loved’. While some joined in, Fountaines DC put their heads in their hands cringing, before ceremoniously using it as an ideal opportunity for a crafty fag break.


The unexpected star of the evening was Little Simz’s mum who was so enthusiastically received by everyone, expect her to crop up as a “feature” on a myriad of upcoming albums. We got our first tears of the evening at 8.50pm when Clairo was visibly overcome by receiving the Best New Act In The World gong – or maybe she’d just spotted that’s when Tay Tay stepped in (who soon declared her love for Clairo and fellow winner Beabadoobee).

Taylor Swift and her entourage walked into the room, seemingly stopping time. A legend she may be, but that didn’t stop her cutting loose. She may have beat AJ Tracey to Best Solo Act in the World, but was she pulled off some pretty awesome Taylor-made choreography to his blistering live performance of Best British Song ‘Ladbroke Grove’. Hats off also to Godlike Genius Emily Eavis for her sick air-guitar skills during The 1975’s closing set.

I mean, where else would you look in one direction and see the Taylor Swift having it to some grime, glance in the other and spot an orange NASA jumpsuit-clad ‘80s pop star and  X Factor guru Sinitta drinking whiskey from a bottle – all while Glastonbury legend Michael Eavis wanders around in shorts (the 84-year-old was possibility challenging the skirt-wearing Yungblud for the Best Legs Award of the night)? Only in Brixton. Only at the NME Awards 2020.