Brit Awards 2015: Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith share top prizes as Brits play it safe – again

Not even Kanye West and Kim Kardashian could liven things up at the 02

Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith both performed at the ceremony
Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith both performed at the ceremony

They are both earnest singer-songwriters whose emotive anthems have returned UK music to the top of the global charts. In the end, the Brit Awards could not split Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, as the two solo stars shared the top prizes at the music industry’s annual showcase.

At an O2 Arena ceremony which will do little to quell criticisms that the music industry is dominated by white, polite, middle-class voices, Sheeran and Smith both took home a brace of awards. But rock music also enjoyed a return to the mainstream limelight with wins for Royal Blood and Foo Fighters.

Sam Smith performs 'Lay Me Down' at the Brit Awards

Sheeran’s rise from pub backroom singer to multiple Wembley Stadium headliner was confirmed when the Suffolk strummer took the British Male and Best Album awards. Sheeran’s ‘x’ bucked the trend for declining album sales and is poised to break the 2 million barrier in the UK.

Astute collaborations with urban music producers like Pharrell Williams have given Sheeran, 24, a run of hit singles which enjoy millions of weekly streams on Spotify without cannibalising his paid-for sales.

Smith, the Grammy-winning soul singer who took the Brits Critics’ Choice winner a year ago, confirmed his stunning rise, winning the Breakthrough prize and a special Global Success award given to the British act with the greatest international sales.

His debut album, In The Lonely Hour, has sold 5 million copies worldwide and his hit single Stay With Me has racked up a similar number of download sales. Curiously, the London-singer, 22, was awarded greater honours at the US Grammys, where he took four prizes including Song of the Year.

Ed Sheeran performs on the Brits stage (Getty)

The recognition for Smith and Sheeran disturbed the DJ and broadcaster Edward Adoo, who called the Brits a carve-up run by “middle-class white guys in suits (who) don’t have a clue about their own industry’s diversity. It seems the judges simply don’t think the ethnic talent we have is worthy of being rewarded.”

Smith’s mother helped launch his career with the pay-out she received after losing her City trader job. Mark Ronson, the DJ from a privileged background who songs expertly mix black music traditions, won Best Single for his Uptown Funk collaboration with Bruno Mars.

The only ethnic minority winner at the awards was Pharrell Williams, who took the International Solo artist prize.

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

Paloma Faith, the Hackney singer, whose range extends from showtunes to jazz and funk, enjoyed a significant breakthrough by taking the British Female prize. Faith, 33, released her debut single in 2009 and has enjoyed a steady rise to prominence through her highly theatrical stage performances.

Pharrell Williams was the only ethnic minority winner at this year's 'white wash' Brit Awards

Among a generation of winners who avoid any expression of political controversy, Faith, who performed at the show, broadcast live on ITV, describes herself as a “vehement socialist. I put that down to having a strong moral code.”

The most noteworthy event of the awards was Madonna, who while making her first performance at the Brits for 20 years, fell spectacularly down the stairs after a cape she was wearing failed to detach from her clothing.

The declaration at last year’s Brits by Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner that “rock 'n' roll will never die” was given credence by the surprise Best Group win for Royal Blood. Drummer Ben Thatcher and bassist/singer Mike Kerr only began performing as a duo in 2013.

The Brighton band’s self-titled debut topped the charts and their combination of thunderous Led Zeppelin-style riffs and smart songwriting has seen them rise up the bill at Summer festivals. Foo Fighters took Best International Group for the third time.

The British performers, who included the over-looked singer-songwriter George Ezra, were somewhat overshadowed by the stardust provided by a trio of American imports; A late addition to the bill, Kanye West, notorious for interrupting other people’s award ceremony speeches, unveiled a track from his new album and Taylor Swift celebrated her Best International Female win, entertained the industry guests.

The show was presented by Ant and Dec, chosen to allow more potential for off-the-script spontaneity, after comedy-actor James Corden completed four years fronting an event which has been criticised for lacking excitement.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in