So is pop back for good? Not just yet. Amidst competition from Take That and Girls Aloud, it was indie band Arctic Monkeys who took the awards for Best British Group and Best British Album for Favourite Worst Nightmare – the first artist to win two years running.
The Sheffield band snubbed last year’s Brit ceremony so it was no surprise that when they did turn up this year, their irreverent approach saw them arrive as English country gents in tweed and flat caps, wielding a plastic duck and blowing a hunting horn into the mic. Best of all Alex Turner ironically thanked the Brit School, mocking winners before him which was duly faded out. And judging from the crowd’s screams following Kate Nash’s earlier Best British Female speech thanking the Brit School, it seemed as though the whole school were on an outing. And although last night no-one brought up Craig David who accused the Brits of failing to truly represent the music industry, this was the closest we got to a swipe at the back-slapping corporate album-sales-boosting machine that the Brits seem to nod to.
Take That who were one of the first to make the most of the band comebacks, were the other big British winners with Best Live Act and Best Single for Shine. Mika and Leona Lewis were the other two acts with four nominations and millon-selling albums in the popularity competition - though X Factor winner Lewis went away empty handed.
It was the performances the audience awaited and even the anticipated renditions (Kylie performing Wow and Leona Lewis presenting a carbon copy of Bleeding Love) were interspersed with some interesting and unexpected combinations - Mika and Beth Ditto belting Standing in the Way of Control, and Rihanna singing her hit Umbrella against Klaxons’ laser enhanced backing with Golden Skans.
The most applauded performance of the night of course went to Amy Winehouse who sang Valerie with Mark Ronson, her first performance since she started rehab, and a wriggly but coherent and tuneful version of Love is a Losing Game - made all the more poignant as she performed it for her husband in prison. But it was Paul McCartney, the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, who made the most memorable performance with a medley of songs including Live and Let Die and Hey Jude.
You can bet sales of Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, Mika, Kate Nash, Take That et al will get that welcome boost – and isn’t that what the music industry needs?