Brits with knobs on

'If we must have awards, let them be Ivors.'; You get a better class of acceptance speech here. Reg Presley has had such a busy year that he'd 'only just got me runner beans in'

The Ivor Novello Awards ceremony took place this week under the gold chandeliers at Grosvenor House in Park Lane. There was lunch and then there were prizes, and the ones that didn't go to Reg Presley of The Troggs (he had a triple-winning year thanks to Wet Wet Wet's cover of "Love Is All Around", positioned lucratively on the soundtrack for the film Four Weddings and a Funeral) went to people like Van Morrison (Lifetime Achievement Award), Elvis Costello (Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection) and Lonnie Donegan (Outstanding Contribution to British Music).

Doubtless the earliest Novello Awards ceremonies were comparatively modest, low-tech affairs - a glass of bubbly, a smattering of applause. In their fortieth year, the Ivors took place on a purpose-built, floodlit stage- set with Paul Gambaccini compering, a written-for-the-occasion theme tune booming in at key moments and synchronised video clips from three screens poised above the stage. There, though, all comparison with the Brit Awards or the Grammys in America must end.

Pop music prize ceremonies will often strike one as inherently absurd, unbalanced affairs - the solemn commemoration of flashes in the pan, the distribution of gongs for baubles. But if we must have awards, then let them at least be Ivors. Awarded in the main by a committee of songwriting peers, the Ivors are, for one thing, beyond meddling from record companies. No one at the Ivors gets an award simply because they have a new album to promote or because the head of their record company happens to be the person responsible for counting the votes. And regularly the committee seems prepared to engage with the tricky (in this area) notion of excellence without being too stuffy and academic to turn its nose up at the genuinely popular. Don Black, the lyricist for the musical Sunset Boulevard, won a Jimmy Kennedy career award this year. And Songwriter of the Year was Tony Mortimer of East 17, which harked back to last year when the young shaver Gary Barlow of Take That won a Best Song award for "Pray".

The Ivors are in the gift of Basca, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Artists. The Academy was formed in 1947, specifically to lobby the BBC, whose programmes were then saturated with American music, to play some work by British composers. At this point the organisation was called the British Songwriters' Protective Association, which made it sound like a social service unit committed to the distribution of condoms. Sensibly, only a week into its life, it changed its name to the Songwriters' Guild of Great Britain and much later to Basca, by which time it had an annual awards ceremony as a kind of display cabinet for its work. Academy representatives sit on the boards of the major music industry bodies, liaise with the Department of Trade and Industry, establish contractual procedures and generally do their best to ensure that if you write a hit song you get paid for doing so - a quaint notion until surprisingly recently. There is substance in Basca's claim that it "chants from one of the few patches of moral high ground in the [music] business".

Additionally to its credit, the Ivor Novello Awards is probably the only prize-giving ceremony in the world where the trophy is a desirable item in itself. Not for the Ivors some kind of mad stalagmite on a plastic plinth or a partially melted vase in frosted glass. The Ivor winner gets to shelve an altogether covetable statuette representing the Greek muse Euterpe in rough-hewn bronze. An Ivor is, in more senses than one, a Brit with knobs on.

It may be no coincidence that you get a better class of acceptance speech at the Ivors. Reg Presley said it had been such a busy year that he had "only just got me runner beans in". Lonnie Donegan admitted that he had assumed his career was over; and then, looking ruefully at his Lifetime Achievement Award, added, "And I guess it is now." And Elvis Costello (movingly introduced by Alan Bleasdale) revealed that his general reluctance to attend awards ceremonies had its source in an incident early in his career when, under record company pressure, he attended a Grammy ceremony in Los Angeles, where the Attractions were nominees for Best New Act. The award that night went to A Taste of Honey, performers of the culturally enriching disco smash "Boogie Oogie Oogie", and Costello's faith in shiny ornaments altered for ever more. He would be justified in modifying his position slightly now.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor