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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Laura Snapes and Shaad D'Souza

Brit awards 2023: Harry Styles and Wet Leg triumph while Lizzo delivers the glitz – as it happened

Lizzo performing at the Brit awards.
Lizzo performing at the Brit awards. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

And that's it from us!

Thank you very much for watching along with us on what is, to be quite honest, British music’s most mediocre night. Kudos to Aitch for kicking proceedings off with a light helping of beef, and to Harry Styles to deigning to respond, just about; to Wet Leg and Lizzo for unusually thrilling performances.

Zero kudos to Tom Grennan or the miserably bad host, nor the final performance, which I will not forget because I think the sharp tones of Becky Hill, Ella Henderson, Sam Ryder and David Guetta’s brassy bosh have stirred my dormant tinnitus. Goodnight!

This was the first Brits I’ve ever seen, and I must say, I wish there had been a few more watercooler moments. That being said, it absolutely turned my opinion on certain artists (Wet Leg, Lizzo) around, and made me feel a lot chillier on others (Stormzy, Harry). All in all – I hope I never have to watch any awards ceremony again. To borrow a phrase from Harry Styles: people like me don’t usually have to live blog things like this!


David Guetta, Becky Hill, Ella Henderson and Sam Ryder’s performance reviewed

David Guetta performs at the Brits.
David Guetta performs at the Brits. Photograph: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

Finally, some ridiculous spectacle! David Guetta’s performance with Becky Hill, Ella Henderson and Sam Ryder is a perfect way to end this show – the rest of the night has been a bit of a snoozefest, and seeing a bunch of dancers dressed in ridiculous red latex outfits is extraordinarily stupid (in a good way). I will say, Sam Ryder leaves something to be desired – his belting is more like screaming, an extraordinarily upsetting thing to hear on a public television broadcast – but thank God we got a bit of old-school glamour, at least. I never thought I’d say it, but – did David Guetta save the Brits? I think he just might have.


What an utter racket. I love the notion that Blue (Da Ba Dee) was a “lifechanging record” for David Guetta.

Album of the year: Harry Styles – Harry’s House

As presented by Stanley Tucci! They share a tender embrace.

Styles laughs in disbelief. “There’s literally no one I love more in the world than Stanley Tucci so this means so much. Thank you very much! This night has been really special to me and I will never forget it. Thank you so much for the welcome home, I appreciate it so much, there is no place like home. I’m so proud to be a British artist out there in the world … so proud to be here tonight celebrating British music.”

Styles and Tucci share a moment.
Styles and Tucci share a moment. Photograph: David Fisher/Rex/Shutterstock

And it’s four for four. Things like this very much continue to happen for Harry Styles, who now has the Grammy and the Brit award for album of the year under his belt (or maybe that inconvenient goth corsage he had on earlier). Harry’s House has moved 370,000 “units” (combined streams and sales) in the UK and been certified platinum, and was officially the UK’s biggest album of 2022, so once again, fair enough on Brits terms. It’s easy to dunk on Styles – he gets away with murder just for wearing nail varnish sometimes and his eminently pleasant easy-listening music attracts some disproportionate analysis – but Harry’s House has some lovely highlights (Matilda, Keep Driving) and this week I went to a yoga class where the teacher played the album in full in honour of his Grammys win, and it proved an ample soundtrack to some gentle rounds of sun salutation A. What more can you ask for? (A lot, probably, but after more than three hours of liveblogging I’ll take going to bed.)


Sam Smith and Kim Petras's performance reviewed

Sam Smith performs at the Brits.
Sam Smith performs at the Brits. Photograph: David Fisher/Rex/Shutterstock

I’m not sure if it’s Stockholm syndrome, but I’m kind of coming around to Unholy, Sam Smith and Kim Petras’s inescapable, moderately subversive pop hit. That being said, this performance feels, at best, totally bizarre – why is there a car on stage? Why is Smith wearing a top hat with devil horns? I know that Smith and Petras are trying to bring a little bit of radical frisson to the mainstream, but there’s still something deeply needy about this performance, almost as if it was the result of a focus group asking, “What are the most quote-unquote edgy things we could bring to the Brits?” This feels like the first real miss of the night – one of the few performances of the evening where everything just feels like a mess. Smith and Petras are both great live singers; the maximalist aesthetic may have just drowned them out.


Clearly the technical difficulties are persisting, as this “banter” between the hosts is the awards show equivalent of the telephone ringing in Crossroads and the cast having to fill airtime.

Liz Truss is in the building

A PR friend posts on Instagram that short-lived prime minister and noted M People fan Liz Truss is in the box next to them.


Something’s gone wrong so we’re getting a playback of the I Drink Wine singer Adele singing I Drink Wine from last year.

A. G. Cook on why Charli XCX is his artist of the year

Charli XCX and producer A. G. Cook have had an extraordinarily fruitful creative partnership over the past few years, and their work together on Charli’s 2022 album Crash was proof that they’re making some of the best pop music in the world right now. Here’s A. G. on why Charli is his artist of the year:

Charli’s music is brash and complex, flippant and emotional, cult and mainstream – all the paradoxes of a true pop musician. Her live performances and songwriting marathons have an almost superhuman energy, but she’s avoided any one-dimensional persona and used every release to invite people into her world. I’ve been lucky to work alongside Charli on many projects over the years, but I’m still in awe of how clearly her personality expresses itself through music. Her life effortlessly becomes her art, and lends a human touch to artificial sounds and unlikely anthems. She’s not afraid to be messy, to both say it how it is and then sometimes hide behind smart, playful lyrics. Having forged her own lane, there’s the feeling that she’s only just getting started, with a past, present and future too unique to ignore.


Producer of the year: David Guetta

This award has always gone to a British producer. Except this year, when they … ran out of ideas? Couldn’t give it to Paul Epworth again? Already gave it to Fred Again? Who knows. Anyway, it’s French donkmeister David Guetta who had a big hit with Bebe Rexha last year that I couldn’t sing you a note of.

Oh no, wait, it’s that interpolation of Eiffel 65’s Blue that any sensible person has gone out of their way to avoid. Argh!

David Guetta accepting the producer of the year award.
David Guetta accepting the producer of the year award. Photograph: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

Award presenter Fatboy Slim says he has watched Guetta grow up to become “the beast he is today”. Guetta repays the compliment: “I’m so honoured and happy that you’re giving me this, you inspired [me] so much!”

Guetta might rival Sam Ryder for irrepressible, hard-to-hate positivity. “This is a vibe really, I love this party and thank you for this! I’ve been making records for now 22 years. I remember my first No 1, it was such a blessing, but to have another No 1 and to have longevity is such a miracle in what we do. I’m here with my son Elvis, happy birthday, I love you. Thank you everyone, party tonight!”

Thank you, David, I will! Might get crazy with another yoghurt!


Cat Burns's performance reviewed

Cat Burns performs at the Brits.
Cat Burns performs at the Brits. Photograph: David Fisher/Rex/Shutterstock

Pop upstart Cat Burns is here performing her song Go. It’s a wonderful, earthy performance – she looks truly incredible in a brilliantly chic cream suit – and her vocals are pitch perfect: she’s relishing every ad-lib and flourish. Admittedly, at this point in the show all these minimalist performances are getting a little boring – like, where’s all the razzle-dazzle? – but it’s still a lovely showcase of someone who will probably be gracing the Brits stage a lot in the near future, and her impeccably dressed all-female backing band is a lovely touch.


Another controversy brewing?

Unless Stormzy wins album of the year, the last yet-to-be-revealed prize, we’re looking pretty close to another #BritsSoWhite situation, as in 2016: Beyoncé and Flo are the only artists of colour to take home a prize, and even the rap category was won by the only white artist among the five nominees.

Wow, Billie Piper is here in full I Hate Suzie Too glamour mode!

Billie Piper on the red carpet.
Billie Piper on the red carpet. Photograph: Kit Oates/REX/Shutterstock

Song of the year: Harry Styles – As It Was

Shania Twain performed with Harry Styles at Coachella last year, and here she is giving him the award for song of the year. They have a nice big hug and a proper little chat.

“Hello! This album and this song was the most fun I’ve ever had making music. I want to thank [Sony Music CEO] Rob Stringer for lending me his house to record this in, write it in. I want to thank Tom [Hull, Kid Harpoon] and Tyler Johnson [co-writer] and everyone, all my friends who support me … Thank you to everyone who listened and thank you Lewis,” he says, gesturing towards Lewis Capaldi for reasons that I either have forgotten or did not know of in the first place.

Imagine for a second if Ed Sheeran and Elton John’s Merry Christmas had won this category. I hate that “will this do?” song, but the Brits could do with that sort of mad “dog in the classroom” energy. Anyway, As It Was wins, predictably, bringing Styles’ total this evening to three for three, and with one more category (album of the year) to go. With 1.9bn Spotify streams and 10 weeks at No 1 in the UK, it’s evidently a song with wide appeal – it was the UK’s biggest song of 2022 – but the appeal of this slippery song is quite hard to put your finger on.

For my money, the best assessment of this song came from Bill Callahan in our (dearly departed) Listening Diary series: “It’s that type of lyric and phrasing that is very fluid, it doesn’t really mean a concrete thing. It’s kind of gauzy so you don’t ever really get sick of it. It’s a weird thing – you think you don’t want him to sing that again, but then he does and you’re like, yeah that’s good.”


Jack Steadman on why Beabadoobee is his artist of the year

Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman worked with Bea Kristi, aka Beabadoobee, on her second album Beatopia. He told us why she’s his artist of the year:

What struck me about Bea was how quickly and effortlessly she wrote her melodies and lyrics. We were in my studio writing and I was playing her a beat of mine when I turned round to see her on her phone. I thought “Oh no” but a few minutes later she showed me the words written out and sang this wonderful melody. It was all finished. It was super refreshing for someone like me who tends to overthink everything and takes an eternity to put a full stop on things.

Beatopia is a magical and eclectic record. I remember feeling inspired and alive when she played me an early demo for Sunny Day. It was so unique while still being incredibly catchy and accessible. I wanted to immediately pick up an instrument to write something and that feeling hadn’t happened for a long time.

When will the Brits stop being cowards and get this man to host!

Stormzy's performance reviewed

Stormzy performing at the Brits.
Stormzy performing at the Brits. Photograph: Ian West/PA

Stormzy surprised fans last year with his decidedly low-key third album This Is What I Mean. Fittingly, his Brits performance this year is a pared-back affair – featuring the London rapper sitting on stage in front of a full band and a choir. It’s remarkable proof of his stature within the British music scene: Stormzy is one of the most successful British rappers of all time, and taking to the stage at British music’s biggest night without any pyrotechnics or bells and whistles is a great way to show what a titan he is. The whole affair is a little dry, sure – it feels weirdly traditional, especially after Wet Leg and Lizzo’s electric performances – but after blazing into the upper echelon of British pop, Stormzy deserves a moment to rest on his laurels.


Alternative/rock act: The 1975

The 1975 take home their fourth Brit award and Matty Healy gives an unusually straightforward acceptance speech.

“This is the first Brit that we’ve won that’s been voted by the fans, so that means a lot. Thank you to our small team, Dirty Hit, that’s doing very big things. We love you and thank you for supporting us, goodnight.”

The 1975 accept the award for best alternative/rock act.
The 1975 accept the award for best alternative/rock act. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Perhaps Healy toned it down because he’s been in trouble this week for his appearance on a podcast in which he mocked various different accents and laughed along with the host’s off-colour remarks about women. Healy’s cancel culture-obsessed press cycle for Being Funny in a Foreign Language has often felt as though the singer is gagging to get cancelled in order to… heighten his notoriety? Make some point about how safe pop culture is? Who knows.

Anyway, not a very exciting category as it’s basically just the British group category, minus Bad Boy Chiller Crew and plus Tom Grennan, and the less said about him now, the better.


The album of the year award is going to be hotly contested, with fan favourites like Harry Styles and the 1975 competing against Stormzy, an icon of British rap, and upstarts like Fred Again and Wet Leg. Guardian critic Hannah Ewens is rooting for the 1975, because she thinks their latest album Being Funny In A Foreign Language is one of the few recent pop records that speaks to over-30s. Read about why she thinks it should win album of the year here.

International song of the year: Beyoncé – Break My Soul

As we all know, she is not here! But here’s another message. “Thank you so much for loving Break My Soul! The only intention for this song was to dance, so thank you for joining this dance of freedom and individuality,” she says, thanking producer the-Dream.

Beyoncé: Break My Soul – video

It’s strange that probably the least ambitious and exciting song on Renaissance has become its de facto calling card. Nevertheless, it easily outstrips the likes of Gayle, OneRepublic and the original recording cast of Disney’s Encanto in this fairly baffling selection of international hits, although commercially it lags far behind Taylor Swift’s Anti Hero, which has been in at least the top 12 (and usually the top five) for 15 almost consecutive weeks (excepting a festive one-week drop to No 53 when it was squeezed out of the Top 40 by Christmas tracks).


Even hearing a snippet of Arctic Monkeys’s lush, orchestral latest album among the best group nominees makes your head spin – it’s so different to everything else nominated and everything else in the charts right now.

Group of the year: Wet Leg

Wet Leg appear to be locked in a debate about who is going to say something. One of the hairy boys takes the mic (I don’t know who any of them are, no one does).

“This is crazy. I promised Rhian I would say this: they build small ships and they build big ships. But they don’t build friendships! This is really cool, thanks very much. I don’t know what else to say, I’m going to pass the mic!”

Teasdale takes over as Chambers looks too embarrassed to even face forward: “Big shoutout to Lava La Rue who creative-directed the show tonight!”

Clearly some swearing happened as the sound got scrambled and the scene cut quickly. Intriguing!

Rhian Teasdale of Wet Leg performing earlier in the evening.
Rhian Teasdale of Wet Leg performing earlier in the evening. Photograph: Dave J Hogan/Dave J. Hogan/Getty Images

This is both a revealing category and a genuinely quite exciting one. Usually it’s a split between the prevailing girl/boyband of the day and the Real Music Men. But girl and boybands as we knew them are in a dormant state for now (the budding Flo, this year’s Rising Star winners, look to change that), and the five nominees here all do something pretty different from one another: omnivorous, streaming-era pop (the 1975), lounge lizard haze (Arctic Monkeys, now Brits elder statesmen), filthy Bradford bassline (Bad Boy Chiller Crew), seething heavy rock with a winning personality (Nova Twins) and classic indie rock in victors Wet Leg.

In eye-watering news, this is only the fourth time a band comprising or featuring women has ever won this award: Wet Leg succeed Wolf Alice (2022), Little Mix (2021) and Romford sibling group Five Star (1987), who I had never heard of until today and I bet did good business on the Never Mind the Buzzcocks Identity Parade section.


International group: Fontaines DC

Most of the band are in Australia, as they helpfully tell us in a VT from Australia, standing in front of the Sydney Opera House. Clearly, their one man in the room, Carlos O’Connell, wasn’t sat in a prime spot as it takes him ages to reach the stage – but then he gives possibly the most heartwarming speech of the night!

“Feels lonely up here! My manager called me about a week ago and she was all like, ‘Y’know you’re going to the Brits next week on your own, make an effort, dress well, have a nice suit,’ and I was like, what’s she trying to say to me? Don’t tell me I’m winning, I don’t want to do this on my own!

“I’m on my own ’cos the boys are in Australia enjoying this massive tour and I had to step out ’cos I am having my first kid in 10 days – it’s a little girl and my heart is fuller than ever. Bringing new life into this world and making sure that life is full of joy, even though everything seems hard and difficult … there’s not much hope left but I think we can bring that into kids and it just fills my head. I’m happy to be here to celebrate that – and a friendship. To the boys, you’re not here, you’re my best friends in the world and I love ya!”

Lovely Carlos O’Connell accepts the international group of the year award!
Lovely Carlos O’Connell accepts the international group of the year award. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

I’m not crying, you are! This is tonight’s “Bonny Bear” moment: bring on the Sun explainers about WHO the Irish five-piece are and WHAT they are all about tomorrow morning. For the Blinks, Fontaines DC beating their beloved Blackpink will be 2023’s version of the controversy over Belle and Sebastian beating Steps to best British group at the 1999 Brit awards (one they definitely won’t remember, having largely not been born at the time – though for anyone looking to catch up, our Michael Cragg’s superb forthcoming millennium pop oral history book, Reach for the Stars, revisits the outcry in comic detail). At the risk of sounding a bit “that rock’n’roll eh”, it’s quite heartening to see the musically ambitious and self-searching band win over Drake and 21 Savage (absolutely not a “group”), First Aid Kit (bit boring, let’s be real) and Gabriels (bit Jools). “In a polarised era, there’s something cheering about Fontaines DC’s bold refusal to join in, to deal instead in shades of grey and equivocation,” wrote Alexis Petridis in his four-star review of their 2022 album, Skinty Fia.


Lizzo’s wonderfully camp performance truly injected some glitz and glam into what has, so far, been a decidedly low-key awards show. Obviously her whipping out the flute was a real highlight, but even without it it would have been a beautiful, pink fluffy affair.

Lizzo performs at the Brits.
Lizzo performs at the Brits. Photograph: Ian West/PA

She also had some great dancers, who were completely up to the task of jumping from a ballad (Special) into some more energetic numbers.

Lizzo’s dancers perform at the Brits.
Lizzo’s dancers perform at the Brits. Photograph: JMEnternational/Getty Images

Lizzo truly has the kind of star power that money can’t buy!

Lizzo performs at the Brits.
Lizzo performs at the Brits. Photograph: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

That Tom Grennan comment deservedly going down very badly on Twitter… Not the “night to remember” that the BPI wanted, especially when their own attitude to gender parity is under scrutiny.

Lizzo's performance reviewed

Lizzo performs at the Brits.
Lizzo performs at the Brits. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Lizzo, fresh off winning the record of the year Grammy for her hit About Damn Time, is here performing a medley of songs from her latest album, Special. Aside from looking absolutely impeccable in a gigantic, fluffy pink dress, she also sounds brilliant, belting and ad-libbing like a 70s soul diva. Love her or hate her, Lizzo gives her all to every single performance she does, and this performance is undeniably terrific, especially when she runs onto the catwalk to bust out 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready). About Damn Time gets off to a rough start, but it’s hard to deny star power like this – constantly riffing and interacting with the audience, Lizzo is a consummate performer; even before she whips out her trademark flute, she’s got the crowd at the O2 eating out of the palm of her hand. The whole affair is ridiculous, extravagant and brilliant.


Artist of the year: Harry Styles

Another little under-the-table fist bump for Styles.

“Thank you again. I’m gonna start by – I wanna thank my family for being the most supportive, understanding, patient, loving family I could have ever asked for. I wanna thank my mum for signing me up for X Factor without telling me, I literally wouldn’t be here without you. I wanna thank Niall, Louis, Liam and Zayn cos I wouldn’t be here without you either.”

Harry Styles accepts the artist of the year award.
Harry Styles accepts the artist of the year award. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

And he does take the Aitch bait! “I’m really, really grateful for this and I’m very aware of my privilege up here tonight, so this award is for Rina [Sawayama], Charli [XCX], Florence [+ the Machine], Mabel and Becky [Hill], thank you so much.”

Things like this don’t happen to artists like him… except they did just last week, and will most likely continue to for the rest of the night. Styles won the best album award at the Grammys because that ceremony loves Real Music™ and there are lots of real instruments on Harry’s House. I don’t think the Brits are hamstrung by the same old-school aesthetic considerations; they’re just doggedly in thrall to popularity.

Again, it would have felt more thrilling to see Central Cee win this, but otherwise, fair enough: I love my floppy-haired king George Ezra, and the second, sadder half of Gold Rush Kid is good, but I didn’t think even his heart was in that campaign; Stormzy’s half-exciting This Is What I Mean has been an astonishing commercial flop, and these days he seems more statesman than musical force; Fred Again’s Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing) is one of the most grating, sanctimonious songs I’ve ever heard (albeit used perfectly for that final shot of horror in Triangle of Sadness) and he makes music for nepo babies to feel hard done by to. Let us toast Styles, weakly.


Alabaster DePlume on why Beth Orton is his artist of the year

This is the second year that the Brits has had a non-gendered artist of the year category and, despite many great female acts being eligible for nomination, no women were nominated for the award. We’ve collected a few tributes to some of the eligible female artists who weren’t nominated, and we’ll publish them throughout the night. First off, here’s jazz musician Alabaster DePlume, writing on his collaborator Beth Orton:

We can escape to comfortable places in our publicised work, without knowing it, and hide or deny our humanity – the very thing you come to us for. But a bravery is present in Beth’s album, not only in the voice, the sounds and lyrical content, but also the act of making it. It’s not a record about her storied career, or threats to her health. But those things are there anyway, and they’re relevant. “And our sorrow makes the city shine / We never had to feel that pain / But now those tears are prayers of empathy / Gonna wash me clean again”. Her voice seems to tell me how bold frailty is a basic part of everyday life. It would be to champion the defiance that it takes to live tenderly in this world, that I would nominate Beth Orton for the Brit Awards, if it were my place to do so.


It’s the controversial best artist category next…

Quick moment for MNEK’s outfit, spotted as he sits next to his production charges Flo. Shaad says “it’s giving Vivacious and Ornacia”. I am too old to know what that means.

MNEK on the red carpet.
MNEK on the red carpet. Photograph: Maja Smiejkowska/Reuters

New artist: Wet Leg

Hester Chambers looks absolutely mortified, holding the Brit in the most precarious way possible. Rhian Teasdale, meanwhile, goes straight in with a tribute to – or loving mockery of?! – their Domino label-mate Alex Turner’s (excruciating) 2014 Brit awards acceptance speech, complete with cod Rotherham accent.

“‘That rock’n’roll, hey?! That rock’n’roll! It just won’t go away! It might hibernate from time to time, and sink back into the swamp …’” She laughs. “Err, no, but in all seriousness, thank you so much. It’s really cool to be doing this on an indie label, shout out Domino. Man, this is so scary! Being on the telly can feel like such a boys’ club thing but I just want to thank all of the women that worked on the whole production thing – it is a team of women and I just really want to shout them out. I’m really nervous so I’m gonna stop now, but thanks so much!”

Wet Leg receive their best new artist of the year award.
Wet Leg receive their best new artist of the year award. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Wet Leg left the Grammys with two awards last week and could possibly claim four Brits tonight. Whatever you think of their milkmaid comedy rock, it’s been an undeniably massive 12 months for Teasdale and Chambers. At the time of the last Brit awards they were yet to release their debut album, and now they’re the feelgood indie act that the whole family can enjoy. Domino Records have managed their breakout well, I think – Wet Leg formed in lockdown and had scarcely played live before breaking out, and rather than parachute them into whopping venues, the venerable UK indie label has let them grow gradually as a live act. (Their last headlining London show was at Kentish Town Forum, which stands 2,300 – you imagine they could fill a room 10 times that at this point.)


Lewis Capaldi's performance, reviewed

Lewis Capaldi performs at the Brits.
Lewis Capaldi performs at the Brits. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

King of sadboy pop Lewis Capaldi has arrived to perform a stripped-back version of his No 1 single Forget Me. While I like the ultra-rhythmic, Haim-like vibes of the recorded version, this choir-and-guitar-only rendition of the track does give Capaldi an opportunity to show off his rich, ragged voice. He definitely hit a few bung notes in the first verse, but watching this, it’s easy to understand why the Scot – who is hilarious online, but decidedly po-faced in his music – has charmed so many fans. It’s a performance that’s rich with pathos and emotion.


Tom Grennan to Ellie Goulding as they present best new artist, pointing at her armour-like dress: “I love what you’re doing – they’re your real boobs?” What the hell? I foresee a Slowthai/Katherine Ryan redux here. Hard to deal with a moment like that on live TV: Goulding responds by saying they’re actually much further apart. Revolting.


Mo Gilligan apologises for the Sam slip, saying that it’s proof of “how strong the drinks are” at the Brits.


And if we’re talking Brits controversies, here’s a primer on the debacle around this year’s all-male best artist category.

Earlier this week, our reporter Aamna Mohdin reported on British R&B’s struggle to find a foothold in the UK music industry, speaking to the likes of Trevor Nelson, Nao and Nathan Burke, manager of Sault, Inflo and Cleo Sol.

Did Mo Gilligan just introduce Lewis Capaldi as Sam Capaldi? Classic!

Pop/R&B act: Harry Styles

Wow, double fist pumping and a swipe at the air from Styles as he gets up from his table. He must really want to be named the UK’s best pop and R&B act!!

“Thank you so so much for this,” he says, to unstoppable screaming. “First of all I know this was a fan-voted award so to all my fans who voted thank you so, so much. I have so many wonderful memories of the Brits so thank you for another one. It is so good to be home, thank you so, so much.”

He doesn’t rise to the Aitch beef! Come on Harry!!! Anyway, this is the first of Styles’ possible four gongs tonight. Previously he’s won two solo Brits and five with One Direction so he stands to make it to double figures tonight and make a lot more Brits memories.

Harry Styles accepting the award best pop/R&B act.
Harry Styles accepting the award best pop/R&B act. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

This was a controversial category for the total exclusion of the R&B artists it purports to celebrate. In commercial terms, Styles has outshone the competition here – it’s been a relatively quiet 12 months for Dua Lipa, Sam Smith’s dominance has only taken place in the last few months, and Cat Burns’ dominance is really only the result of Smith “hopping” on a remix of her song Go – but his conveniently ambiguous, lovelorn AOR pales in excitement next to whatever Charli XCX is doing at any given time.

That said, you can already hear the impact of Harry’s House – Miley Cyrus’s new single, Flowers (currently UK No 1 for a third week), is lovely but far more tepid than her usual belting comebacks, fitting right into that post-Harry’s House groove (right down to her hiring Styles’ main collaborator, Kid Harpoon, as cowriter).


The critically maligned Magic Mike’s Last Dance must be doing really badly if star (and actual superstar) Salma Hayek Pinault is here to present best pop/R&B act.


Wet Leg's performance reviewed

Wet Leg perform at the Brits.
Wet Leg perform at the Brits. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Isle of Wight duo Wet Leg have gone all out for their first Brits performance, bringing a troupe of female Morris dancers to the O2 for their rendition of their breakout single Chaise Longue. Laura explained Morris dancing to me ahead of the show – I am not British – and we are both very glad that the dancers are not wearing their usual face paint. Even without the dancers, though, this would have counted as an electric awards show performance – Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, both so deadpan and eccentric at the same time, are magnetic performers, and not at all the kind of musicians you usually see on an awards show stage. This is the kind of performance that exudes star power: Teasdale looks totally unbothered while giving what is, probably, one of the wackiest vocal performances the Brits has seen in the last few years. Wet Leg are one of the biggest indie success stories in recent memory, and it’s nice to see them take to such a ginormous stage without sacrificing what makes them so weird and so special.


The Blessed Madonna wearing a “topical” T-shirt.

The Blessed Madonna on the red carpet.
The Blessed Madonna on the red carpet. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/AFP/Getty Images

Stanley Tucci giving adorable baffled grandpa. Who’s he looking forward to? “There are so many incredible people here! I’ve never been here before!”

Dance act: Becky Hill

Deep breath, Becky! “Ooh! It’s heavy! Erm! OK! Wow! Alright! Argh! I did try and plan something but it might go to shit now. I wanna thank the Brits committee for putting me on the shortlist of the dance act for another year and it is such an honour to be nominated, especially alongside the amazing Eliza Rose and the incredible Raye …”

Hill then realises Raye was not nominated. “Raye last year and God, I am making a right pickle of this! Artists who are an inspiration for woman and people of colour. I think Beyoncé said it best in her Grammys speech: we all have the queer community to thank for the best genre …”

Then we get into Hill thanking Polydor for “being as passionate about my upcoming album as I am”, which feels slightly propaganda-ish considering how badly Polydor were (rightly) dragged for apparently not letting Raye release her album.

The skittish Hill concludes! “My imposter syndrome kicked straight in when the nominees were announced and I was so scared, and when I read all the comments I was so touched!” Lovely stuff.

Becky Hill accepts the best dance act award.
Becky Hill accepts the best dance act award. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

This is Hill’s second consecutive win in this category, and a purist might sniff at a dance vocalist winning out over Bonobo, Calvin Harris, Fred Again and Eliza Rose. Much as it would have been nice to see the BOTA producer and club stalwart Rose win, Bonobo and Fred Again make music that’s about as hopping as a fungal flannel, and Calvin Harris’s Funk Wav Bounces Vol 2 doesn’t bear mentioning in the same breath as Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1. Also, Hill is the sound of the UK dance scene in that she’s the sound of regional nightclubs with sticky floors and £1 shots, and frankly I’ve always had far better nights out in dives called Shades and Club International than dripping warehouses playing panel-beater techno. So well done Becky, and here’s to her getting as delightfully mashed as she obviously was during last year’s ceremony.


International artist: Beyoncé

Unfortunately – astonishingly – Beyoncé is not here to accept her award. But she’s sent a VT! “Thank you so much for this incredible recognition. I’d like to say thank you to all of my fans out there in Britain for all of your continuous support over the years … I’ll see y’all on tour.”

Last week Beyoncé became the most garlanded artist in Grammy awards history. Sadly for her she still has a long way to go to match top Brit winner Robbie Williams, now with four to his 18. I’m sure she will lose a lot of sleep over this.

Anyway, hard to argue with this one: there were various misgivings about the latest albums by Beyoncé’s fellow nominees Kendrick Lamar (too prickly), Lizzo (too corporate) and Taylor Swift (only three good songs! OK, four if you count the bonus materials). And Burna Boy’s great Love, Damini wasn’t quite the world-conquering story that the genuinely fun and vividly experimental Renaissance was.


Best hip-hop/grime and rap act: Aitch

Aitch kicks off: “I’m not gonna lie, I never get a bit scared but I’m shitting myself cos I thought I’d have time to have a couple more drinks before I got up here!”

Then he gets serious, calling out Harry Styles for his comment at last week’s Grammy awards that “people like me don’t win Grammys”.

Aitch accepts the award for best hip-hop/grime/rap act.
Aitch accepts the award for best hip-hop/grime/rap act. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

“Not many people where I’m from, especially my side of Manchester, get the opportunity to stand up here and receive such an amazing gift of an award. And I think that’s the main reason I do it for, to set examples and to let people know it’s possible no matter where you’re from, and because not 5m people have done it before ya doesn’t mean you can’t … 0161 in the building!”

This is Aitch’s first Brit win out of four total nominations (including for best new artist in 2021). While his debut album, Close to Home, sank without trace – dropping from No 2 to 30, 41 then 78 and out – he’s clearly not an albums artist, and his singles run won’t have given him any cause for concern: between solo hits and collaborations with ArrDee, Giggs, Ed Sheeran, Anne-Marie and Tion Wayne, he’s been in the Top 40 every week in one form or another for a solid year.

The genre categories are voted for by the fans, so this is literally a popularity contest, but it may not be the world’s greatest look for the Brits – ever beleaguered by conversations about equality – for this category to be won by the only white rapper nominated. I am scarcely not tickled by Aitch’s unique brand of ribaldry, but arguably Central Cee has made a far greater impact this year, not least in the US, a feat untouched by most of his UK rap peers.


Harry Styles was criticised for his slightly underwhelming Grammys performance, but he’s more than making up for it with this cheeky, energetic Brits performance. Dressed in a sparkly red suit jacket, he’s hitting all the right notes and seemingly interacting with every audience member he can. He doesn’t have the same rotating stage setup as at the Grammys, but he’s more than making up for it with sheer star power.

Harry Styles performs at the Brits.
Harry Styles performs at the Brits. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Last year, host Mo Gilligan’s “banter” mostly consisted of making factual observations and – quite uncomfortably – inciting everyone (including the teenage nominees) to drink more. On the red carpet tonight he’s already likened his purple outfit to Ribena and Vimto, so… my expectations aren’t sky high.

Harry Styles attracted opprobrium for his lacklustre Grammys performance last week, which his dancers later explained was because the stage started spinning in reverse. “There was nothing we could do to stop it. So, after a week of rehearsing this piece perfectly going this way, the moment it’s time to perform, it starts going this way. And in real time, we have to troubleshoot and try to do a complete piece in reverse,” said dancer Brandon Mathis. Fortunately the Brits stage is looking pretty solid, including a big runway for him to high-kick in his glittery toreador outfit.


Time to flip to ITV1 (are we calling it that now? I don’t remember the last time I watched live TV). Get yourself a nice yoghurt and bed in for a mild ride.


David Guetta’s favourite Brits moment is “now!” Amazing.

It’s the red carpet moment everyone’s been waiting for: TikTok trainspotter Francis Bourgeois has arrived, wearing what looks to be a Gucci suit complete with an attached whistle. As always, he’s sporting an ear-to-ear grin.

Francis Bourgeois at the Brits.
Francis Bourgeois at the Brits. Photograph: JMEnternational/Getty Images

This year’s trophy designer, Slawn, is a brilliantly unbothered red carpet interviewee, saying he “doesn’t know” how he feels about working on the ceremony.

Slawn lying down and relaxing on the red carpet.
Slawn, cool under pressure. Photograph: Richard Young/Rex/Shutterstock


Another elegant frock from former Little Mixer Leigh-Anne Pinnock: the type of look (Grecian Studio 54?) to launch a solo career…

Leigh-Anne Pinnock on the red carpet.
Leigh-Anne Pinnock on the red carpet. Photograph: JMEnternational/Getty Images

Clara Amfo currently pulling teeth with Wet Leg on the red carpet. Agonising!

East London DJ and producer Eliza Rose had an extraordinary 2022, with her Interplanetary Criminal collab BOTA (Baddest of Them All) hitting No 1 on the UK singles chart and becoming a de facto song of the summer. She’s nominated for dance act and song of the year, and looks resplendent in this Marie Antoinette-inspired Vivienne Westwood look.

Eliza Rose arrives at the 2023 Brit Awards.
Eliza Rose arrives at the 2023 Brit Awards. Photograph: JMEnternational/Getty Images

Songwriter of the year winner Kid Harpoon is telling Clara Amfo that he’d like to work with Fontaines DC. Somehow I don’t see it.

David Guetta is taking home producer of the year tonight, which is a bit confusing as the prize has always gone to a British producer, and Guetta is French. When I asked the PR about it, she didn’t seem to know why they’d done that either. Regardless, I’ll take any opportunity to share this video of David Guetta’s fairly astonishing EDM tribute to the family of George Floyd. Heartfelt, I’m sure you’ll agree.

White Noise actor Jodie Turner-Smith is giving full Studio 54-style glam in this spangly lamé dress, which feels extremely in-tune with Beyoncé’s two nominations for international artist of the year and international song of the year. The disco revival is in full swing!

Jodie Turner-Smith at the Brit Awards.
Jodie Turner-Smith at the Brit Awards. Photograph: Neil Mockford/FilmMagic

Shania is here! And in a week where she has a UK No 1 album with Queen of Me to boot. She’s performed with Harry Styles in the past; wonder if they’ll have a redux (or if she’ll present him with one of the awards that he’ll inevitably walk away with tonight).

Let’s go, girls!
Let’s go, girls! Photograph: Matt Baron/BEI/REX/Shutterstock

RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Bimini Bon-Boulash has arrived in extremely punk fashion, wearing a dress that transplants the colours of the trans pride flag onto the union jack – a nice little injection of chaos onto this year’s red carpet.

Bimini Bon-Boulash at the Brit Awards 2023.
Bimini Bon-Boulash at the Brit awards 2023. Photograph: Matt Baron/BEI/REX/Shutterstock


Kim Petras – who will perform her hit Unholy with Sam Smith later tonight – has come very much on her Vigilante Shit this evening. It’s giving “scheming widow whose husband died in a mysterious accident” vibes. Although given that she emerged from between Sam Smith’s legs on their recent Saturday Night Live performance, I am a bit sad that she didn’t pop out of one of their inflatable legs, springing from their thigh like Eve from Adam’s rib.

Kim Petras on the red carpet.
Kim Petras on the red carpet. Photograph: JMEnternational/Getty Images


Charli XCX, dressed in a gorgeous sheer Ludovic de Saint Sernin gown, remains one of the most reliably well-dressed pop stars going. She’s up for best pop/R&B act tonight, but she’s already won most elegant outfit.

Charli XCX on the Brit Awards 2023 red carpet.
Charli XCX on the Brit Awards 2023 red carpet. Photograph: Matt Baron/BEI/REX/Shutterstock

Flo on the red carpet.
Flo on the red carpet. Photograph: JMEnternational/Getty Images

Tremendous Y2K R&B styling from Flo, who have won the Rising Star award this evening (bafflingly, being presented by Jessie J on the red carpet rather than at the ceremony itself). You can almost hear the stuttering Timbaland percussion.

Wet Leg have come as … Stripped-era Christina Aguilera meets Sienna Miller in peak 2004 boho mode?? A nice change from their regular milkmaid chic, anyway.

(L-R) Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers of Wet Leg on the red carpet.
(L-R) Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers of Wet Leg on the red carpet. Photograph: Maja Smiejkowska/Reuters


Lizzo's here!

“I love the Brits because you get to drink! I’m getting – what’s it called, knackered?” Good Grammys shade from Lizzo, and a fine Ferrero Rocher-inspired dress.

Lizzo on the red carpet.
Lizzo on the red carpet. Photograph: David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images


Sam Smith, nominated for best pop/R&B act and song of the year for their Kim Petras collab Unholy, has definitely set a high bar in terms of memorable outfits. They’ve certainly outdone their blood-red Grammys gown with this inflatable black outfit. I wonder if they travelled to the ceremony this way or had to inflate it upon arrival?

Sam Smith arrives at the Brits.
Sam Smith arrives at the Brits. Photograph: Jo Hale/Redferns


If you tune into the ITV2 Red Carpet, Bad Boy Chiller Crew are giving it big “regional nightclub PA” energy with their opening performance.


I can’t believe it’s that time again. Welcome to another night of the best the British music industry has to offer, as filtered through my jaded lens – this is my sixth Brits liveblog – and the doubtless sprightly, charmed perspective of first-time viewer Shaad D’Souza, our brilliant Australian acting deputy music editor. Let’s strap in for a night of mild controversy and host Mo Gilligan’s unfunniest jokes.


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