How Do We Fix The Brit Awards?

It used to be rock’n’roll but now it’s MOR. So how do we fix the Brit Awards? We asked five experts to come up with a rescue plan

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Jamie East
Television Presenter

“The problem with it is that there’s no danger and we know exactly what to expect. Sam Fox and Mike Fleetwood in 1989 might have been chaotic but it was still some of the best TV anyone’s ever seen. They’ve got to get rid of that terrible front row of people who went to the Brits School. It’s just dreadful. It’s become like The X Factor and all it’s saying is ‘This isn’t for real music fans, it’s for wannabes.’ Make it more like a proper gig. Get all of the awards out of the way quickly and then condense all the performances into one amazing, once-in-a-lifetime performance, where Adele walks on with Ronnie Wood. Those are the things people remember.”

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It's James Corden's last year as presenter. Who should replace him?
“They should go for the absolute opposite of a Keith Lemon figure. They’ve done the chummy showbiz thing. Get Paxman to do it and pair him with Amy Childs. Can you imagine the disdain when Katy Perry walks on dressed like an ice cream with a clitoris? Get Brandon Block back and have him do the red carpet. Embrace the chaos.”

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Boyd Hilton
TV Editor, heat magazine

“It’s definitely better than it was. The performances have a more spectacular Grammys feel and James Corden has done a good job, even if some people hate him. But it still feels like the safe Brits acts keep getting nominated, and they could really do with a smaller venue. The O2 is just horrendous, this giant hangar with thousands of drunken music executives. You can’t even get a decent phone signal so the TV audience can read the stars’ tweets – which is what you really want. It all feels a bit back-slappy. If they did it like the Oscars, in a smaller venue with fewer suits, you’d get a much more elite, starry experience. But the Brits can’t win. Either there’s chaos and uproar and the press complains, or there isn’t and they say it’s boring.”

Who should replace James Corden?
“I’d like to see Ricky Gervais because he’s got enough heft to send up the rock stars. That art of taking the piss out of the award-winners while keeping it on the rails is incredibly difficult.”


Eve Barlow
Deputy Editor, NME

“The Brits is in a shocking state and it’s part of a wider general malaise in awards ceremonies. They’ve been following the same format for decades while the world has changed around them. Between the chemistry of the people in the room, and the fact that commercial partners won’t tolerate the kind of ludicrous behaviour that used to make it exciting, it’s just become very predictable and boring."

“In an ideal world you’d want to rip out corporate sponsorship altogether and make it smaller and more intimate. Concentrate the star power and use social media to create intrigue around it. The need to fill these massive, vacuous rooms like the O2 stops any hope of anything exciting or rock’n’roll happening. Everyone knows the Brits is all about who they can persuade to turn up. If they took the leap of awarding the best music, not just the most popular, they’d build the kind of authority that would bring in those giant acts anyway.”

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Who should replace James Corden?
“It’s not an enviable job, is it? Lauren Laverne has the kudos and respect but also the sense of humour and experience to keep it entertaining. Or just give it to Lily Allen and let her put the cat among the pigeons.”


Dan Wootton
Head of Showbiz, The Sun

“I just don’t buy the idea that the Brits is dead just because suddenly we’ve got a professional show and a professional presenter in James Corden. There’s a lot of rubbish talked about how great and anarchic it used to be. Yes, it might have been out of control when you were there, but as a spectacle for audiences at home it was pretty awful. Last year we had some of the biggest stars in the world in One Direction, Mumford & Sons and Justin Timberlake. Adele’s bit in 2011 was one of the most electrifying live TV performances ever. The Brits rates incredibly highly. You know, what do people want? Part of the issue is that we have very PR-trained pop stars today who are wary of saying or doing anything irresponsible. It makes the tabloids’ job harder because we don’t get the serious carnage that we used to, and that’s a shame.”

Who should replace James Corden?
“They should stay the course and use someone like Nick Grimshaw or Jack Whitehall. Dermot O’Leary is too vanilla and Russell Brand is too much of a divisive figure. You need someone with the experience to handle a big room and the comedy skills.”


Peter Robinson
PopJustice.com

“The Brits has always suffered from a problem with British mindset. In America they don’t mind rewarding success, but we’re embarrassed about it. Someone like Conor Maynard will be delighted to win a Brit but if you’re the Arctic Monkeys it’s kind of embarrassing. That’s a shame because they’re exactly the band that ought to win a Brit. I don’t know how you get past that."

“The show itself definitely needs more medleys. That’s where you get that concentrated excitement. This year we absolutely need to see Pharrell performing the Best of Pharrell: ‘Get Lucky’, ‘Blurred Lines’ with somebody who’s not Robin Thicke singing it, ‘Happy’ with hundreds of youngsters dancing… job done. You’re always trying to remind viewers who are barely interested that music is actually amazing, and that’s quite difficult.”

Who should replace James Corden?
“He’s been quite good because he treats the event with a degree of respect. Now the spectre of Keith Lemon hovers in the background. I’d like to see Noel Gallagher present the Brits, actually, with no script. He is incredibly funny. Can you imagine him introducing One Direction? It would be amazing.”


Mark Borkowski
PR guru

“I actually think they’ve done an amazing job in bringing the Brits back to what it ought to be. When you look back at catastrophes like Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood, or Chumbawamba throwing a bucket of water over John Prescott, or Jarvis Cocker and Michael Jackson, none of these things said anything positive about British music. The current Brits does what it’s built to do: it sells records and it’s bloody good TV entertainment for the ITV audience."

“We no longer generate the kind of artists who’ll risk their career by being outrageous. An event like the Brits is about creating a spectacle, and you do that with the biggest names, not the promise that it’s going to go off the rails. The Brits can’t just emulate Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. That was right for the MTV brand but not the Brits. Even Robin Thicke himself didn’t actually profit from that.”

Who should replace James Corden?
“He’s is a hard act to follow, and we don’t breed live TV presenters any longer. Are the record labels going to risk a wild card like Russell Brand on their biggest night of the year? I doubt it. Let’s just hope it’s not Michael McIntyre.”


The Brits is on ITV1 tonight at 9pm

This article first appeared in Esquire Weekly, our new iPad-only edition. Containing 100 per cent new and original content, it’s published every Thursday on the Apple Newsstand.


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