Back to Business As Usual at the BRITS, Adele, Ed and Little Simz

It’s going to be a really busy few months for me, so I might not be posting quite as regularly. My college course has not been what I’d hoped for, mostly down to the pandemic. I’ve not been inside our local college for nearly two years and it seems they are more than happy to keep things that way. I’m therefore going to try and complete this semester’s module as best I can from home, and then pick up the resulting qualification, but an awful lot of research/reading/writing to be done before then. I’ve enjoyed all the modules so far but this one, quite rightly, is a highly academic one, so a bit more graft involved.

As we are now in the month of February, we are well and truly into Awards Season. I was pleased to see that the film Belfast, written about last time, is up for many BAFTAs and Academy Awards. Hope it does well although I have a sneaking suspicion it might hog the runner-up spot in most categories. We’ll have to wait and see. This week (here in the UK) we had the BRIT Awards back on telly in all their former glory. Unlike last year, the word ‘pandemic’ wasn’t even mentioned, and not a mask or a socially distanced performance graced our screens. After the last couple of years where such shows have had to be either cancelled altogether or held in a limited capacity in open spaces such as Railway Stations (93rd Academy Awards), it was the biggest sign that life is hopefully going to return to a semblance of normality this year.

Unlike Mr WIAA, who is not a fan of award shows, I have always watched the BRITs as that’s when I find out about some of the new artists/bands who would otherwise never have crossed my radar. This blog is very much a retrospective one, where I revisit songs from my youth, but important not to get totally stuck in the past and over the last few years I’ve been blown away by some of the live performances on the show – Stormzy in 2018 and Dave in 2020. As a middle-aged female living in the North of Scotland I know nothing of what life must be like for young, black, urban males but when you watch these guys in action, they definitely help you understand.

This year, the performance that stood out for me most was by Little Simz – She won the award for Best New Artist (although she has been around for a while it seems). The actress Emma Corrin also appeared on stage with her in a very spectacular hat. Together they gave us Introvert and Woman.

Introvert and Woman by Little Simz:


The big change this year was that the awards were gender neutral with no Best Male or Best Female categories at all. This made room for some new categories which included Best Dance Act (Becky Hill), Best Rock/Alternative Artist (Sam Fender), Best Hip Hop/Grime/Rap Act (Dave) and Best Pop/R&B Act (Dua Lipa). I’m afraid when it comes to genres such as these I come a bit unstuck and would probably fail spectacularly if it came to categorising songs in such a way myself, but the winners of these new awards certainly were pleased, some deliriously so (Becky Hill?), so in turn I was pleased for them.

Another big change this year was that I managed to persuade Mr WIAA to watch the show with me. “There’s always a really big memorable moment,” I told him. “From Jarvis Cocker’s very justified storming of MJ’s stage, to Madonna in her cape falling down those steps, to Geri’s Union Jack dress, to Freddie’s last appearance…”. Yes, lots of memorable moments over the years, but as luck would have it, not this year, so I had to eat my words.

The really big winner was Adele, so a lot of the industry ‘suits’ as she called them at a previous BRITs would have been happy, but all a bit safe and predictable. She lives in LA now, stages big shows in Las Vegas (although that’s a whole other story) and looks nothing like the Adele we first saw on the show back in 2008. Was all a bit disappointing and samey, in my humble opinion.

The girl’s come a long way, but I miss the old Brit School Adele:

Although I totally agreed with the move to gender neutral awards (needs to happen in the world of film too I think), one key difference between the vast majority of men and women at the BRITs was the footwear they chose to wear on the night. I couldn’t help but notice that many of the women were sporting shoes that were detrimental to their health. Adele’s spikey heels got caught up in her long dress when climbing the steps to pick up her first award and poor Anne-Marie fell down some steps in her platform boots whilst performing Kiss My (Uh-Oh). Not quite as spectacular as Madonna’s tumble a few year’s back but she still took a tumble, and landed on her Uh-Oh. She was a trooper however and carried on as if nothing had happened. We’re still a long way off from equality in footwear it seems, which is a shame, as at my age I regret many of my younger self’s footwear choices. My younger self would of course have ignored my older self’s advice, and there lies the rub.

Poor Anne-Marie took a tumble

Like Adele, he’s been around a long time now, and he’s not for everyone, but I do still have a soft spot for Ed Sheeran. He too looks a bit more polished than the lad who first rolled up at the BRITs back in 2012, but whatever you think of his music there’s no denying he knows how to write a successful pop song. He didn’t win big on Tuesday night like Adele, but he did win the award for Songwriter of the Year and I enjoyed his performance of The Joker and the Queen. Many a metaphor/pun can be found in a pack of cards it seems. I was trying to work out what it reminded me of, and of course it’s music from a classic film score, which is what was intended.

The Joker and the Queen by Ed Sheeran:

I really should be doing college work today but procrastination came along in the form of this blog post. Exactly what used to happen first time around, although there weren’t blogs back then, or an internet, or Netflix, just lots and lots of fellow students to be distracted by. Changed days. I’ve just heard back from my course tutor who tells me I can keep going with the course one module at a time – I really thought there was a time-limit on it but they don’t want to lose any students it seems, even ancient ones like myself. Decisions to be made.

I enjoyed the BRITs this year, for the many performances, but also because it felt as if things are truly getting back to normal again. Lord knows we all need that.

Until next time…

The Joker and the Queen Lyrics
(Song by Ed Sheeran/Johnny McDaid/Samuel Elliot Roman/Fred Gibson)

How was I to know?
It’s a crazy thing
I showed you my hand
And you still let me win

And who was I to say
That this was meant to be?
The road that was broken
Brought us together

And I know you could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts that would give you a diamond ring
When I fold, you see the best in me
The joker and the queen

I was upside down
From the outside in
You came to the table
And you went all in

With a single word
And a gentle touch
You turned a moment
Into forever

And I know you could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts that could give you a diamond ring
When I fold, you see the best in me
The joker and the queen

And I know you could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts that would give you a diamond ring
When I folded, you saw the best in me
The joker and the queen
The joker and queen

Postscript:

Before I started writing this one I looked back over the years to my previous BRIT Awards posts. It seems I wrote something about all of them except the 2019 show. Remiss of me but perhaps also a bit of an unremarkable one that passed without incident.

What I do remember about that show however was that Scottish DJ Calvin Harris (along with Dua Lipa) won the award for British Single of the Year. He appeared on the night and it occurred to me that had he not, I wouldn’t have known what the world’s highest paid DJ, a Scot, looked like. Remarkable how anonymous DJs can be. The standout collaboration that year was when Calvin manned the decks whilst Dua, Sam Smith and Rag’n’Bone Man sang. Only three years too late but I give you a medley of Giant, Promises and One Kiss.

One Kiss by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa:

Award Ceremonies, Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” and Are Men Feeling Under Siege?

I’ve been putting off writing this post for some time as I could land myself in hot water, but I hope not. Last week I tried to stand up for all those young people (like darling daughter), who through no fault of their own have had to suffer the ignominy of returning home to their old school bedrooms. This week I’m standing up for all those decent guys, like Mr WIAA, who have never “behaved inappropriately” towards women, but in light of the rise of certain “movements” must be feeling as if their gender is under siege. (He says no, but I’m using him as a for instance.)

Unlike in previous years, I’ve not yet mentioned any of this year’s big award ceremonies and that would be because I’ve found them both confusing, and troubling. Two years ago I wrote about the Grammys and the Brit Awards – I always enjoy these big extravaganzas as I’m often exposed to new music I may have missed out on in the course of the year, but no, back in 2016 everything was highly predicable and the “Suits”, as Adele called them, would have been very pleased with themselves as well-established, bankable artists took away most of the top prizes.

Last year, the most memorable segments of these two shows for me, were the tributes paid to George Michael and I wrote about both (albeit a bit scathingly at the time although I have since mellowed). This year the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements featured prominently at both music and film award ceremonies but it kind of all got a bit too much I thought. No-one, absolutely no-one with any sense, would condone the kind of harassment, inequality, discrimination or abuse of power cited by these movements but god forbid you leave the house without your white rose or decide to eschew the obligatory black dress – In both cases you would face being named and shamed (the apolitical, pregnant future queen was even pulled up for her choice of a green dress at the BAFTAs).

First of all we had the Grammys and although not as relevant as our home-grown Brit Awards, usually something there of note – Kendrick Lamar swept the board and although I do get why he is so popular, impossible for me to really empathise with his lyrics, not coming from “the hood” an’ all. Incidentally I also still find it weird that James Corden, he of Gavin and Stacey, Comic Relief and Carpool Karaoke fame now hosts the Grammys (who would have predicted that a decade ago) but unless he is really good at faking it, his enthusiasm does shine through, albeit in an bit of an annoying fashion.

JaJanelle-Monae_-2018-GRAMMY-Awards--03-662x1077nelle Monae, dressed in a very serious looking suit, introduced one of the artists and made a powerful speech dedicated to the Time’s Up movement finishing off with these words – “We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try to silence us, we offer two words: Time’s Up”. She was scary indeed and if I was a man in the audience who had committed any of the offences she had listed, I would quite rightly have been very worried. And here is my point, even if I was a man who hadn’t committed any of the offences, I would still have been feeling pretty worried, which surely must be wrong.

But hey, it was an awards show so what about the performances. One of the most flamboyant of the evening was when James introduced Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi who sang their infectious summer hit Despacito. It was impossible however to concentrate on the pair much at all, as the focus of attention was very much on dancer Zuleyka Rivera who joined them onstage. The Puerto Rican star, a former Miss Universe (didn’t even know that kind of contest still existed) danc911531830ed alongside the singers in a sheer bodysuit with strategically placed gold embellishments. I did a double-take at one point not quite believing what I was seeing. And here is my point again, having just been admonished for their offences against the sisterhood, was it appropriate for the men in the audience to admire Ms Rivera’s obvious talents, or would that have seemed like “inappropriate” behaviour? Argh… – It’s a quagmire. I watched the show with DD and she thought nothing of the naked-suit, so it was a generation thing it seems. Her view was that the girl was a dancer so had the right to wear whatever costume was fitting for the performance. Like Janelle, Zuleyka was a similarly powerful and strong woman  – How can men compete nowadays with these Amazonian females?

britsAt the end of February, along came our own Brit Awards – This time the host was Jack Whitehall who I thought did a pretty good job considering it must be one of the trickiest presenting jobs in the annual calendar. Plenty of white roses on display again and a few messages of solidarity were sent out to the Time’s Up movement by those handing out and receiving awards. Kendrick Lamar popped up again but about half his song had to be muted which seemed a waste of airtime, but because of his lyrics, how it has to be it seems on mainstream telly.

Yet again we had plenty of strong women performing on the night, but who could have predicted a decade ago that two young women whose respective Albanian parents moved to the UK from Kosovo in the 1990s, would now both be successful recording artists and appear on the same Brit Awards show. Both Dua Lipa and Rita Ora put in very impressive performances and despite my reservations about the need to wear such skimpy stage outfits, DD was yet again fully in favour. Dua’s swimsuit was apparently to marry up with the video for her song and Rita’s duet with Liam Payne was from the soundtrack to the latest 50 Shades movie, so it was never going to be demure. Someone else who was present at the awards ceremony, but not performing, was Anne-Marie whose singing style I am quite fond of. Another strong woman who is, believe it or not, a three times Karate World Champion. Hope no-one ever tries to behave “inappropriately” toward her.

Someone who made a pretty big impression on me this year was Stormzy – He won the award for Album of the Year which I think is the “big one”. Although I knew of him, I wasn’t that familiar with his music. He came across as being shy, humble, and very spiritual when receiving his award but my goodness, once he got up to perform we saw another side of him and if Theresa May had been watching (unlikely), she would have seen that post-Grenfell, he was none too happy with her or her government. Stormzy, despite getting very wet, gave us probably one of the most memorable Brit Awards performances ever (link here).

images42E36RLZ

So, “What’s It All About?” – It really looks as if time is up for those who have discriminated against, abused or harassed women in any way, which of course is a good thing. We must remember however that not all of those with a Y chromosome have ever behaved in such a way, and never would. From what I hear, DD’s experiences as a young woman have been quite different to those I faced at the same age – There can’t be many females of my generation for whom #MeToo won’t apply, but it seems that even before these movements took off, the vast majority of today’s young men are already fully aware of how they should behave toward women in the 21st century.

As for these powerful Amazonian women, it seems that back in the day when we all had to wear a lot more clothes (my mum would have insisted), there was a lot more “inappropriate behaviour”. Now that women are a lot more confident (DD would run rings round my younger self), the clothes are skimpier, but the behaviour is better. Who would have guessed. I will leave you with the woman of the hour, Dua Lipa, who won two awards this year at the Brits. In her 2017 song New Rules, she is making sure she keeps her distance from someone she has broken up with, and who is bad for her – She is a strong woman and she is “taking charge”.

As part of her acceptance speech at the ceremony, I seem to remember Dua saying that women were going to take over the world and from what I’ve seen of late, it looks as if it just might be on the cards. Enough now I think – No-one should be getting all Dr Evil here, so time for some balance to be restored between the sexes. When we put our minds to it, we should all get along just fine.

And on that note, time to sign off for today. As ever, I’d love to hear from you, and I always reply.

New Rules Lyrics
(Song by Caroline Ailin/Emily Warren/Ian Kirkpatrick)

One, one, one…

Talkin’ in my sleep at night
Makin’ myself crazy
(Out of my mind, out of my mind)
Wrote it down and read it out
Hopin’ it would save me
(Too many times, too many times)
My love, he makes me feel like nobody else
Nobody else
But my love, he doesn’t love me, so I tell myself
I tell myself

One, don’t pick up the phone
You know he’s only calling ’cause he’s drunk and alone
Two, don’t let him in
You’ll have to kick him out again
Three, don’t be his friend
You know you’re gonna wake up in his bed in the morning
And if you’re under him, you ain’t gettin’ over him

I got new rules, I count ’em
I got new rules, I count ’em
I gotta tell them to myself
I got new rules, I count ’em
I gotta tell them to myself

I keep pushin’ forwards, but he keeps pullin’ me backwards
(Nowhere to turn) no way
(Nowhere to turn) no
Now I’m standing back from it, I finally see the pattern
(I never learn, I never learn)
But my love, he doesn’t love me, so I tell myself
I tell myself
I do, I do, I do

One, don’t pick up the phone
You know he’s only calling ’cause he’s drunk and alone
Two, don’t let him in
You’ll have to kick him out again
Three, don’t be his friend
You know you’re gonna wake up in his bed in the morning
And if you’re under him, you ain’t gettin’ over him

I got new rules, I count ’em
I got new rules, I count ’em
I gotta tell them to myself
I got new rules, I count ’em
I gotta tell them to myself

Practice makes perfect
I’m still tryna learn it by heart
(I got new rules, I count ’em)
Eat, sleep, and breathe it
Rehearse and repeat it, ’cause I
(I got new, I got new, I…)

One, don’t pick up the phone
You know he’s only calling ’cause he’s drunk and alone
Two, don’t let him in
You’ll have to kick him out again
Three, don’t be his friend
You know you’re gonna wake up in his bed in the morning
And if you’re under him, you ain’t gettin’ over him

I got new rules, I count ’em
I got new rules, I count ’em
(Oh, whoa-oh)
I gotta tell them to myself
I got new rules, I count ’em
(Baby, you know I count ’em)
I gotta tell them to myself

Don’t let him in, don’t let him in
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
Don’t be his friend, don’t be his friend
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
Don’t let him in, don’t let him in
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
Don’t be his friend, don’t be his friend
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
You gettin’ over him