She arrived on the red carpet in a typically understated three-tiered white dress and towering white wig – presumably expecting to win something, given that organisers had signed her to perform the night's headline act. And the American singer Lady Gaga emerged the victor at yesterday's 30th Brit Awards, walking away with three statuettes. One for each change of clothes she would subsequently reveal.
The British music industry chose to award the 23-year-old, whose "Poker Face" single was the biggest-selling song of 2009, with the gongs for International Breakthrough, International Female Solo Artist and International Album.
Many have likened the 23-year-old American to Madonna on steroids. It was as "New York's answer to Su Pollard" that the evening's host, Peter Kay, welcomed her to the stage.
When the stage lights went up on her solo performance, revealing her sat at a white piano in a white ballgown, crocheted white face mask and 3ft-high white head-dress, the more pertinent comparison would have been with Elton John dressed as Louis XVI at his 50th birthday bash. The comparison was never going to last long, however. The dress gave way to a lace fishnet body suit resplendent with white feathers. She dedicated her performance to the recently deceased designer Alexander McQueen. Even he might have raised an eyebrow at her sartorial selections. Like the rest of the audience, he certainly wouldn't have recognised the songs she performed.
She was close to tears as she accepted her award for her alum The Fame and said: "I was really excited to win the first two awards. This award means even more to me because I worked so hard on this album for so long.
"My fans were the first people to believe in me. Thank you so much."
Closer to home, Lily Allen won her first Brit after a succession of close misses, picking up the Best Female Solo Artist award, beating off The X Factor success story Leona Lewis at the ceremony in Earls Court, west London. A shock for singer and audience alike, then, when Allen arrived on stage in a bright orange wig, claiming she had put it on only expecting to lose to stop the cameras from finding her and her "disappointed face".
Soul-indie-rock act Florence and the Machine won the coveted Best Album award for her debut album, Lungs. The 23-year-old Londoner, Florence Welch, had been nominated for three awards – and fancied for all of them.
The rapper Dizzee Rascal, whose "Bonkers" hit was the soundtrack to last summer's festival season, won British Male Solo Artist. "Well done, young Dylan," Kay told him as he left the stage. Who knew they were on first-name terms?
The night wasn't a write-off for Simon Cowell's X Factor stable, as 2008's defeated finalists JLS won two awards. They were named Best Breakthrough Act and their track "Beat Again" won Best Single. Nineteen-year-old Pixie Lott also missed out on a prize, after being nominated in two categories.
Jay-Z picked up the award for Best International Male Solo Artist. The rapper, who is married to Beyoncé, thanked the Glastonbury festival which he headlined in 2008, describing it as "a major moment in my life". With Alicia Keys he performed his current hit, "Empire State of Mind", his most successful single in the UK.
Robbie Williams picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award at the hardly ripe age of 36. "I feel like it's my birthday, I feel special, it's lovely, whether people think it or not; in my head I'm going, 'Brilliant!'" he told reporters. He performed a medley of songs at the ceremony, during which he declared: "I feel really good up here Brits, thank you so much, have a great evening."
A special award for the Best Performance in the 30 Years of the Brit Awards was given to the Spice Girls for their 1997 performance of "Who Do You Think You Are", now most vividly remembered for that Union Jack dress and, in the most-often-recycled snap, those black knickers.
That performance is far from the only cultural milestone in the Brits journey. It was at this award ceremony in 1996 that the late Michael Jackson performed "Earth Song", his humanitarian call to arms, which involved being lowered into a throng of adoring children, prompting an inebriated Jarvis Cocker, formerly of Pulp, to invade the stage, wiggle his backside and flick the Vs.
The newly defunct Oasis also picked up what might be their last award, as their album (What's the Story) Morning Glory? won the Best Brits Album of 30 years.
2010 Brit Awards: The winners
British Female Solo Artist
British Male Solo Artist
British Breakthrough Act
MasterCard British Album
Florence & the Machine - Lungs
JLS - Beat Again
BRITs Album of 30 Years
Oasis - (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
The BRITs Hits 30
Spice Girls - Wannabe/Who Do You Think You Are
International Female Solo Artist
International Male Solo Artist
Lady Gaga - The Fame
International Breakthrough Act Supported By MTV Viewers
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