Friday, 23 October 2009

I Hope I'm Old Before I Receive A Lifetime Achievement Award...

In 1989 the organisers of the Brit Awards erred spectacularly by pairing Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood, fresh from a brief appearance in Schwarzeneggar flick 'The Running Man', with diminutive "Jordan-minus-the-publicist" glamour model and pop puppet Samantha Fox. The duo fluffed lines, missed cues and introduced acts in the wrong order, culminating in Boy George's famous appearance as "The Four Tops".

In 1992, The KLF spectacularly announced their retirement from the music business by playing a thrash-metal version of their no.1 hit '3 Am Eternal' with Extreme Noise Terror, firing blanks into the audience from a vintage machine gun and dumping a dead sheep at the after party with a note tagged to it reading "I died for ewe...bon appetit!" Bill Drummond of the group has since said he was very upset their performance led to esteemed conductor Sir Georg Solti walking out.

In 1996, Jarvis Cocker invaded Michael Jackson's horrific, misguided self-ordination ceremony (a cavalcade of messianic delusion) and waggled his bottom in a clip which, thanks to Youtube reaching the USA, sees Cocker demonised more now by lunatic Jackolytes than it ever was at the time.

However, in 2000 the Brits most shameful incident occurred when the panel awarded the Spice Girls with the Outstanding Contribution (AKA Lifetime Achievement) Award for little more than roughly stapling champagne feminism to an unwanted manufactured pop bandwagon. In three and a half years (admittedly a quarter century in dog years) five, and latterly four, mediocre singers and dancers - the equivalent of letting a hen party take over the local karaoke bar - joined an elite including Elton John, Queen, Cliff Richard, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, The Who and The Beatles.

Now, in 2010, the panel are ready to disgrace themselves once again, this time honouring one Robert Peter Williams for his "oustanding contribution" or, in real terms, for 'Angels' and that one album everyone liked from over a decade ago.

Williams already holds eleven Brit gongs (not including another four from his time with Take That) - a record - but the fact must stand that most of Robbie's awards were public voted which is far more a reflection of teen trends than musical appreciation. You only need to look at the "British Breakthrough Act" winners over the years which were won by such flash-in-the-pan acts as S Club 7, A1 and Blue for evidence of this. Keen to be seen as "down to earth", pop stars are usually quick to defend, nay emphasise, the importance of these awards as they're "voted for by the fans" - their fans mainly. Let's face it, the relationship between fanbase and tabloid column inches has long been unsettlingly close.

Thus the Brit Awards must once again hold up their hands and admit their existence is to celebrate the sale of music, the continuation of this dinosaur-shaped industry, the importance of the star over substance and nothing, nothing to do with musical quality. Remember, this is a ceremony historically so out of touch that it gave Nirvana "Best International Breakthrough" in 1993 and Bjork the same award in 1994, despite both acts having enjoyed mass popularity outside of the charts for some years previously.

That Bjork was given a nod at all is a surprise giving her long-term affiliation to the independent label One Little Indian. It's perhaps a similar affiliation towards Mute from Depeche Mode (or Erasure come to think of it) and Factory (for the most part) from New Order that has seen these pioneering and perennially popular acts snubbed year on year.

That Williams has attained a twelfth Brit Award, and this time with no help from the phone lines, in a career peppered with mediocre albums is a travesty. What makes it harder to swallow is that, with a new album out and a "brave" return to live performances, he will probably also be installed as odds-on favourite to pick up Best British Male, a historically pro-White category, in the year when Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder and Taio Cruz have dominated the charts.

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