The Ivor Novello Awards is the industry event most likely to make hard-bitten executives cry and the one most likely to send them into the West End drizzle feeling uplifted.
The 2017 edition was no exception. Maybe it’s the good-natured songwriting/publishing crowd, maybe it’s because there are so many legends in the room, maybe it’s the fact that the awards are judged by the winner’s peers that means no one seems to get upset at not winning, instead cheering on those that do. But the Ivors does warm and fuzzy feelings like no other awards do – and here are the moments that had the biz feeling emotional yesterday…
CRISPIN HUNT’S ADDRESS
The BASCA chairman’s opening address struck just the right balance of cheeky gags and serious points. After some heartfelt thank yous to the BASCA team, the BBC, Deezer, Spotify and Apple, he also paid ironic tribute to YouTube and Facebook “for cracking the funniest joke online, the one where they pretend they’re just a dumb pipe and not the biggest and best streaming services on the planet. You guys, you’re killing us – literally!” Hunt is no stranger to writing smashes, but this was another big hit.
SKEPTA DOES THE DOUBLE
The grime king doesn’t look like a man who’s fazed by much, but winning two Ivors – for Best Contemporary Song (Man) and Songwriter Of The Year – seemed to genuinely discombobulate him. Fortunately, he recovered to reminisce about how songs such as Bob Marley’s One Love “showed me that if you write about a true emotion, it stands the test of time. So I always try and do that”. “Man is about family and I’m all about family,” he continued. “More power to true music.” Ain’t that the truth.
ANNE DUDLEY & FLORENCE WELCH’S ONE-LINERS
The prize-winning ladies (Dudley picked up Outstanding Contribution and Welch the International Award) got plenty of laughs out of their tribute videos. Welch took one look at her compilation and noted: “There was so much flouncing going on in that video”, before thanking her Dad for driving her around on her first European tour in his camper van. Dudley arched an eyebrow as she picked up her gong from Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant. “That film made me nostalgic for the ‘80s,” she noted, wryly, as her career flashed before her. “Big hair, big royalty cheques.”
JARVIS COCKER SOUNDS OFF
“Can I shoot my mouth off?” asked Jarvis Cocker as he took to the stage with his bandmates, fresh off the Eurostar from Paris, to pick up Pulp’s Outstanding Song Collection prize. Unsurprisingly, the answer from the crowd was: “Yes, please!” “I’m going to say a dirty word now,” he teased. “Brexit. It’s a horrible word, almost as bad as Britpop.” He then turned on the 52% who voted to leave the EU. “In pop terms, that’s the equivalent of your single getting to No.19,” he scoffed. “That’s not a hit. It’s not the will of the people so have a word with yourself.” Good to have you back, Jarvo.
NITIN SAWHNEY GETS INSPIRATIONAL
Sawhney’s Lifetime Achievement prize clearly meant a lot to the musical polymath. “When I was a kid, music was all I cared about,” he said. “It was a passport to possibility. I’ve had the most blessed and fortunate life through music, even when times were tough otherwise. Growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I always felt I was standing in the rain, looking at the world through a window. Today, getting this award feels like I’ve been invited into the warmth, offered a nice cup of tea and told, Relax, because this is your home too. I hope some day, everyone feels like that.”
BILL WITHERS BRINGS THE LOLZ
Bill Withers effectively retired from the music business over 30 years ago. But judging by his speech, following his acceptance of the closing Special International Award from the equally legendary/hilarious George Clinton, Withers has spent the intervening years honing his stand up comedy routine. “Everybody’s being so nice to be lately,” he quipped. “Could this be a clue to my place in the queue in the Running Out Of Time line?” He then recalled the time Paul McCartney called him “a raconteur”. “George and I looked it up,” he smiled. “We were relieved to find out it had nothing to do with feeding the racoons. Where George and I are from, we don’t study those suckers, we just catch ‘em, cook ‘em and eat ‘em.” “Ultimately, songwriters are simply dealing with feeling,” he concluded. “And right now I’m humble and dealing with the feeling you’ve given me by so graciously acknowledging my body of work over the years.” His speech even rhymed. Still got the old magic, Bill.
For the full list of Ivors winners, click here.