The Brit Awards organisers begged Arctic Monkeys to inject some badly-needed rock n’roll attitude into the annual corporate shindig.
And the Sheffield indie band, who had variously snubbed or mocked the event, were rewarded with the Best Group and British Album prizes, after agreeing to open the UK music industry’s glitziest night.
Such is the Brits’ standing as a soulless showcase for bean-counting conglomerates that the biggest controversy before Wednesday night’s show was a heavy-handed PR company’s demand that journalists plug the sponsor’s marketing campaign in their Tweets.
So James Corden, presenting the live ITV show for the final time, was encouraged to go “off the leash” and whip up some spontaneous fun.
However, whilst Prince interrupted his season of “guerrilla” shows to present the Best Female award, David Bowie, who reclaimed the Best Male Brit he won in 1984 for his surprise return with the acclaimed album The Next Day, declined to end his New York exile and pick up the prize.
Typically, even in his absence, Bowie, 67, stole the show. Kate Moss strode up the catwalk wearing a 1972 original Ziggy Stardust stage outfit, donated by the singer from his V&A exhibition last year, to accept the Philip Treacy-designed award.
A Bowie fan, who needed his Life On Mars suit let out two inches on a previous assignment, Moss squeezed into the figure-hugging Ziggy leotard.
The overall impact of the show, which concluded with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers jamming through "Happy and Get Lucky", by International Group winners Daft Punk, was to over-shadow a new generation of young British winners who value hard work and musical skills over headline-grabbing outfits and Bieber-style bad behaviour.
Bastille, the London pop/rock quartet, whose single Pompeii became an international hit, won the Breakthrough prize. Lorde beat Perry and Lady Gaga to the International Female award, following the global impact of her single Royals.
Brit Awards 2014: All The Winners
Brit Awards 2014: All The Winners
Winner: Best International Female
2/10 Ellie Goulding
Winner: British Female Solo Artist
3/10 Bruno Mars
Winner: International Male Solo Artist
4/10 David Bowie
Winner: British Male Solo Artist (award accepted on his behalf by Kate Moss)
Winners: British Breakthrough Act
6/10 Arctic Monkeys
Winners: British Group and Album of the Year
7/10 One Direction
Winners: Global Success Award and British Video
Winners: British Single
9/10 Daft Punk
Winners: International Group (award accepted on their behalf by Nile Rodgers)
10/10 Sam Smith
Winner: Critics' Choice Award
The 17-year-old New Zealand singer duetted with dance duo Disclosure, but it was Rudimental who beat One Direction to win the Best Single public vote for "Waiting All Night" featuring Ella Eyre. Rudimental played with Bastille on the night.
The collective were inspired by the grime and rap pirate radio stations they grew up with and have become a huge draw on the festival circuit.
Ellie Goulding, a former Brits Critics’ Choice winner in 2010, graduated to Best Female following a series of chart-topping singles ruthlessly targeted at the Radio 1 playlist preference for electronic pop/dance.
After declining requests to perform, Arctic Monkeys opened the show with "R U Mine?" from their Best British Album-winning AM. In 2008, they mocked the Brits by turning up in country squire attire and delivered a sarcastic acceptance speech.
Now Glastonbury headliners and firmly established as the UK’s biggest rock band, they have made their peace with the event, which offers the group a rare chance to reach an estimated 8 million viewers on prime-time television. The Brit-sceptics are now the first band to win the British Group and Album awards on three separate occasions.
If the most exciting moment of the awards was provided by Bowie’s 42 year-old leotard it’s probably because the Brit Awards can only ever be as earth-shattering as the most popular music currently being downloaded or streamed.
Although streaming services like Spotify offer the music industry a return to profitability, album sales continue to decline and the charts are dominated by a narrow seam of pop-dance tracks, carved by production teams featuring guest vocalists.
Hit songs are increasingly “broken” through video clips, viewed in their millions on YouTube and Vevo, a shift the Brits acknowledged with a revived Best Video award, voted for via social media during the show. The nominees, based on YouTube views across the year, included One Direction and Ellie Goulding.
The organisers sought to resolve the One Direction dilemma - how to give the most obvious attraction to younger ITV viewers a prominent role without endorsing their music – by giving the boyband the Global Success award, a prize for the UK artist which has achieved the greatest international sales. They also won the Best British Video award, which was voted for by Twitter.
Artists have been given greater representation on the Brits voting academy, in a bit to produce more “credible” winners. Brits regulars like Sir Paul McCartney and Robbie Williams found themselves excluded this year.
The “outstanding achievement” award, usually given to a music legend, was rested by the organisers.
The Critics’ Choice winner Sam Smith, is set to enter the chart at No 1 with his debut solo single Money On My Mind this weekend.