How to describe the particular type of nausea induced by last might’s Brit Awards? It was not so much the music itself – bands like Bastille and Rudimental are producing catchy, modern pop, and I loved the choreography in Bruno Mars’ performance of ‘Treasure’. Rather, it was everything else about the event itself: The arrogant, cursory acceptance speech by Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner; Harry Styles’ joke “what did we win” when he arrived late on stage to collect an award; and presenter James Corden’s constant references to people taking cocaine in the loos. The entire programme seemed to be channelling a drug bore, who thinks he is being the life of the party when in fact he is rambling and obnoxious.
What a contrast with the BBC Folk Awards on the other channel! When I switched over, it was the veteran Irish group Clannad doing a medley. Their fashion sense could not have been further removed from skinny trousers and quiffs on show at the Brits – the Clannad guys were rocking the middle-aged bald-and-beard look. And yet the performance was instantly and effortlessly genuine in a way that not even Beyoncé could manage over on ITV.
The contrast was at its starkest when that set finished and we returned to the hosts. Mark Radcliffe and Julie Fowlis. Neither needed banter, name-dropping or off-colour jokes to carry the evening. Their simple enthusiasm was enough and it shone through. Through this lens, the Brit Awards seemed even more hollow and superficial.