Niceness rocks! Ballads take centre stage at the Brits

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

To some they're just the stars of the 'New Boring' but Adele, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay took the major awards last night

For millions of fans, Adele and Ed Sheeran are purveyors of soaring, heartfelt anthems which soundtrack their lives. To their detractors they are leaders of the New Boring, a wave of polite, ballad-friendly artists who have driven rebellion and noisy guitars – traditional tropes of British pop – to the margins.

Last night Adele, Sheeran and Coldplay swept the Brit Awards as the music industry honoured the artists whose mainstream appeal has given the struggling record industry a much-needed boost. Last year Adele's emotional performance of the break-up ballad "Someone Like You", to a piano accompaniment, hushed even the Brits' corporate guests, catapulting the London singer to global fame.

Twenty million albums sales later, Adele, 23, returned to the O2 Arena to claim a brace of awards. She followed up her six US Grammys with the Best British Female and Mastercard British Album of the Year awards for 21.

Independent record labels surged to a 25 per cent UK market share as a result of the success of Adele, who is signed to the indie label XL.

British audiences will probably forgive Adele for reacting angrily when embarrassed host James Corden was forced to cut her off in her acceptance speech for the Best Album award. "Can I just say goodbye and I'll see you next time around?" she said and waved her raised index finger towards the crowd.

The incident came hot on the heels of rapper MIA sparking a storm of controversy in the US when she raised her middle finger to more than 114 million viewers during Madonna's performance at the Super Bowl halftime show.

Adele shared top honours with Sheeran, 21, the folk-inspired acoustic performer from Suffolk. He took the Best British Male and Breakthrough awards after breaking into the charts with his song "The A Team", a sympathetic portrait of a homeless prostitute. His million-selling success was a reward for playing hundreds of pub gigs and an open-minded approach to collaborations with UK grime and hip-hop artists.

However, Sheeran was cited as a "posterboy for the New Boring" by one critic for reviving memories of James Blunt and singing gauche lyrics.

A broad cultural movement, encompassing Downton Abbey and Kirstie Alsopp, the New Boring was apparently birthed during Adele's stripped-back Brits performance, which launched "a ballad-friendly tedial wave destroying everything in its path".

Coldplay, another band whose piano-swaddled anthems divide critics, returned to claim the Best British Group for the third time, 11 years after their debut win.

Industry executives believe that artists like Adele and Sheeran, who doesn't drink, are more likely to build Coldplay-style lengthy careers than Amy Winehouse, whose premature death was marked at the awards, alongside the passing of Whitney Houston.

Artists are now the largest group on the Brits voting panel, in an attempt to enhance the awards' credibility. So while US rockers Foo Fighters were honoured, there was scant reward for Simon Cowell's stable of reality pop stars. X Factor-created boyband One Direction won Best Single in a public vote of Capital FM listeners. Lana Del Rey, the US singer whose Thirties Hollywood vamp image and career reinvention prompted much web debate, took the International Breakthrough award. Her haunting "Video Games" single convinced sceptics that there was substance behind the heavily stylised image.

The titans of Britpop, an era when bad behaviour and rivalries held sway, returned to make their mark. Blur closed the show with a five-song, greatest hits set after receiving the Outstanding Contribution to Music prize.

Noel Gallagher, a solo nominee after quitting Oasis, invited Chris Martin, the Coldplay singer, to share the spotlight during his performance. Jessie J, the R&B singer, left empty-handed, despite enjoying huge success both in the UK and abroad, with her Who You Are album and its accompanying singles.

Digital album sales soared by 43 per cent last year to £118m, helping the United Kingdom music industry to offset two-thirds of the continued decline in income from CDs.

Best of British: the full list

Best male Ed Sheeran

Best female Adele

Breakthrough act Ed Sheeran

Best group Coldplay

Best single One Direction/What Makes You Beautiful

Album of the year Adele/21

Best international male Bruno Mars

Best international female Rihanna

Best international group Foo Fighters

International breakthrough act Lana Del Rey

Outstanding contribution to music award Blur

Critics' choice Emeli Sandé

British producer Ethan Johns

Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
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.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits