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

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

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 5 July 2015  

George Osborne says benefits should be capped at £20,000 to meet average earnings – but working families take home £31,500

Ellie Mae O'Hagan
The BBC has agreed to fund the £650m annual cost of providing free television licences for the over-75s  

Osborne’s assault on the BBC is doing Murdoch’s dirty work

James Cusick James Cusick
Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high