David Lister: Have the Brit Awards really run out of lifetime achievers?

The Week in Arts

Share
Related Topics

The Brits are a highlight of the music calendar.

While the Mercury Music Prize is a sombre affair, fittingly presided over by a professor of music, the Brits are pure showbiz both on stage and behind the scenes. When Fleetwood Mac received a special award they requested that their dressing room be painted beige. For medicinal purposes, I gather.

This week, changes to the annual pop awards were announced, including a redesign by Vivienne Westwood of the bronze, helmeted female statuette, and a revamp of the voting academy. I have to approve of the revamp of the voting academy, as I have been invited to be on the new academy, though I look forward to mass student protests demanding that voting academy members be paid.

Another major change is the scrapping of the "outstanding contribution" award, effectively a lifetime achievement prize. This was won last year by Robbie Williams, and in the past has gone to Paul McCartney, the Bee Gees, Oasis, and with a liberal interpretation of the word Brit to Bob Geldof, U2 and those beige lovers, Fleetwood Mac.

I wonder why this is being scrapped. Perhaps the organisers feel that they have run out of lifetime achievers, especially those that will appeal to a prime-time ITV audience, unfortunately a much bigger consideration in determining the outstanding achievement award than you might think.

There's no shortage of outstanding achievers in British music who remain unrewarded. Quite why Ray Davies, one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the 20th century, has never made it on to the list is beyond me. His chronicling of English life in his days with the Kinks must rank as an outstanding achievement. Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music are also curious absentees.

And then there is that host of British talent that doesn't fall into an easily identifiable pop category, but has contributed hugely to the development of British music. Take Richard Thompson and others such as Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span who grew out of the folk boom of the Sixties. I suspect their names have never been mentioned at a Brits committee meeting, but they would be imaginative and different choices, which would highlight an area of British music neglected at awards ceremonies.

Come to that, don't the Clash have a special place in the development of British music, or the Stranglers or Madness or so many others? Britpop, too, took place long enough ago to merit an outstanding achievement award. Damon Albarn, for his work with Blur and in promoting world music, should be in with a shout, as should Blur themselves. A performance by a reunited Blur would round off the Brits evening nicely. So would performances by other acts who have not made it on to the outstanding achievement podium, such as those little known pub bands Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. Again I sense a fear of what ITV might or might not like taking precedence over artistic considerations.

There's no shortage of outstanding achievements in British rock and pop music, just a shortage of imagination among the organisers of the award, if they really think that they have exhausted all possibilities.

Opera house needs a reality check

The Royal Opera House launched a reality TV approach to opera and ballet, putting out a spoof TV talk show. The Jerry Springer-style show depicts three "real life" stories based on famous operas – Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet and Rigoletto.

The result is three clips: "I'm a slave in my own home, I want to divorce my family" (Cinderella), "My racist father is holding me hostage" (Romeo and Juliet) and "I'm sleeping with my father's boss, behind his back!" (Rigoletto).

I'm certainly don't want to knock it. Opera and ballet need new audiences and younger audiences, and anything is worth a try. But, surely everyone knows the story of Cinderella. It doesn't need a spoof talk show to bring home the plot or its drama. Likewise, in broad outline, Romeo and Juliet. Viewers won't be any wiser or any more inclined to see the productions after the spoof than they are now.

As for Rigoletto – "I'm sleeping with my father's boss behind his back." That's the plot of Rigoletto? The Royal Opera House needs to mug up on classic opera. "I was kidnapped by my father's boss's servants and forcibly handed over to him" is more like it. Actually that might have got more people to buy tickets. Back to the drawing board, I'm afraid.

Flying auctioneers reach new heights

Congratulations to leading French art dealer Bertrand Epaud of the Opera Gallery in Paris, who is to hold the first auction of great art – and his gallery has works by Picasso and Dali – on an aeroplane. Mr Epaud has done a deal with the airline Etihad to have the auction on a flight between Europe and the Middle East. It will, he says, be a marvellous way of using up that dead time in a long plane journey. "How do you catch a top businessman?" he said to me. "I will have them there for seven hours."

Sounds good. Except, I'm informed by an art lawyer, contracts signed in mid-air are not valid. So if you want a Picasso or a Dali dirt cheap...

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband said the Tories are a danger to family finances  

Election 2015: Me, my 18-year-old son, and why I’m voting Labour

Matthew Norman
 

Birth can be a dangerous business – even in the UK

Jane Merrick
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before