Friday, February 24, 2012

Brit Awards 2012

Thoughts on some of the performances:

Coldplay's cold opening of the show with "Charlie Brown" was pretty fantastic.  When they drop the pretentious attempts at hugeness, keep things simple and just rock out (plus a few fireworks), they are one damned fine band.  Hell, even when they want to do "pretentious", they're less annoying and crank out better songs than most other bands trying to do the same.  I don't know if I've said it before, but I have no problem with Coldplay being the world's biggest rock and roll band.  Since it's the Brits, it's appropriate to compare them to another iconic British rock band of the past twenty years: Oasis.  Let's see, Oasis released two great albums and were then content to coast on their reputations.  Eventually, most people got fed up with their antics (brotherly infighting, slinging mud at other bands every time they wanted to draw attention to themselves), especially when the quality and consistency of the music took a nosedive.  Nobody was surprised when they finally broke up, and nobody really mourned them.  Coldplay honestly seem to try harder with every new album and aren't content to simply recycle what worked for them in the past.  I keep expecting them to fail, but they keep releasing number one albums, two or three classic singles per album, and when all is said and done, they might have assembled the strongest "greatest hits" (not songs, "hits", actual, radio-saturating hits) collection of their generation.  They might be the Pink Floyd of our time, wildly popular but reviled by many critics at the time for their exaggerated sense of self-importance (at least in the years when they were all but a Roger Waters solo project).

Rihanna, "We Found Love".  Speaking of adaptable artists who are putting together one of the best hits collections ever, here's Rihanna.

If you know anyone who believes that Adele's big win at the Grammys means that American and British tastes are converging, play them Olly Murs' performance of "Heart Skips a Beat".  Dance pop + fey clean cut young males + twenty five girls in red leotards dancing in front of a set of red hearts?  Good luck bringing that to America.

Florence and the Machine, "No Light, No Light".  I love it when goth storms the charts, no joke.

Adele sang "Rolling in the Deep" and flipped the bird, and it's fair to ask whether this is any different from what MIA did at the Superbowl.  Answer: it's a lot different.  Not to condone swearing on live TV, but ...

1) Adele is the world's biggest music star, and the Brit Awards are the top music awards show in her home country.  As expected, she won all the biggest awards.  The show was about HER.  Not getting more than 20 seconds to speak after winning Album of the Year is pathetic.

MIA was a sideshow at a halftime performance at a football game. The TV broadcast was about the game, the halftime show was about Madonna.  She rode the coattails of bigger stars to get there and tried to make the show about her, when it wasn't.

2) Like I said in my Superbowl post, there's a time and a place for protesting and trying to look badass, and the Superbowl halftime show isn't it.  The Brit Awards aren't the Superbowl.  Somebody gets drunk at the Brits and creates a "controversy" every year, it's practically expected to happen every year, and nobody gets too upset about it because awards shows aren't taken as seriously as they are in the US.  The Brit Awards are a big celebration, but it's generally understood that the Grammys are more like an annual meeting of industry insiders, and more decorum is expected.  It's impossible to imagine people being OK with swearing at the Grammys or the Oscars.

As a matter of fact, it would have never happened in the US because American awards shows run long all the time (less so than they used to), so Adele would have been allowed to talk for as long as she wanted. The Brits have to run in their allotted time slot, down to the minute.

Blur were great as usual, and it's amazing to see how "Tender" has been transformed from nearly forgotten single on their most "difficult" album to their biggest big happy singalong.

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