While the dust may have settled on this year’s BRIT Awards ceremony, the annual bash is still making its mark on the chart, with several of the night’s big winners and performers benefitting from a hike in sales and a leap up the charts. But what did the industry’s biggest movers and shakers make of this year’s event?
For many, including BRIT Awards chairman and chairman/CEO of Sony Music UK, Jason Iley, the biggest talking points of the 2017 BRITs came in the form of moving tributes to the late David Bowie and George Michael. Both Michael C Hall, who starred in the Lazarus stage show, and Bowie’s son Duncan Jones delivered touching eulogies to the star on the night.
Meanwhile, Michael’s former bandmates Andrew Ridgeley and Pepsi and Shirley took the stage to pay their respects in what was a deeply emotional tribute. This was followed by a live performance of Michael’s classic single A Different Corner by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, in which he dueted with Michael via video footage.
As for the rest of the show, notable performances were given by the likes of Ed Sheeran and special guest Stormzy, Skepta, The 1975, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Little Mix, Robbie Williams, Emeli Sande and an unscheduled appearance from Coldplay and Chainsmokers.
The live broadcast drew a respectable, albeit slightly smaller audience than last year – down from 5.8 million viewers in 2016 to 5.4m this time out – although it was up 4% in the 16-34 age demographic.
So, to find out what the industry made of the show, we caught up with some of its foremost executives to get their verdict…
Ted Cockle, president, Virgin EMI
“I thought the show was very strong on many levels. It packed a punch, there were no dragging moments, it covered an excellent spread of quality artists and the collaborations worked very well indeed. It felt very here and now, it was part of its time; it was right that Stormzy and Skepta were represented and it’s the BRIT Awards, so the focus should be on British artists.
“It was all very strong from start to finish. The heavier rock end of things was a little bit depleted, but otherwise it was a good spread of genres. That’s some star power for an audience. In a year that could have been tough they did well to get a line-up with that pedigree of artist on there.”
Ferdy Unger-Hamilton, president, Columbia
“It was great that the show reflected grime. Culturally it’s a really important part of British music. I love The 1975 as well, they were amazing. And the tributes were brilliantly done. Chris Martin singing A Different Corner was great. Both tributes were very touching.”
Jo Dipple, chief executive, UK Music
“This year’s BRITs was as good as any. Stormzy was a standout performer. It was a great show. Even the mosh pit at the front of the stage looked authentic. The BPI pulled off a masterclass in covering every base, while entertaining those at the event and millions of TV viewers. Truth is, the UK does music better than anywhere else. We are badly behaved, edgier, less controllable and we need the BRITs.”
Ken Marshall, senior marketing director, Sony Music UK
“It was a wonderful, well-paced show, with some emotional moments – Chris Martin and the George Michael tribute. It was bright from the opening all the way through. The Skepta performance was really good and was a bit different, just one person standing in the middle with dark lighting. It was fantastic.”
Ben Mortimer, co-president, Polydor
“I loved Ed and Stormzy, that was a great moment. Obviously The 1975 were fantastic. The George Michael tribute was executed really tastefully and Duncan Jones’ speech was absolutely spot on. It was witty and to the point and very moving. The show was a massive improvement. It was representative of what happened in 2016.”
Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI and BRIT Awards
“Jason Iley, Maggie Crowe and our whole BRITs team are to be congratulated on a truly spectacularly staged awards reflecting British music at its diverse best. Little Mix dazzled to open the show, while Robbie brought it to a memorable close as only he can. In between there were so many outstanding performances to savour, including the incredible energy of Skepta and the stand-out pop/grime collaboration from Ed Sheeran and Stormzy, while Emeli Sandé, the 1975, The Chainsmokers and Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Katy Perry also thrilled. I was delighted that the tribute to George Michael seemed to be well received, that was extremely important to us.
“It was also a great privilege to have Duncan Jones with us to honour his late father’s incredible legacy, including the MasterCard Album of the Year, Blackstar. Our thanks and sincere congratulations to all of last night's winners and performers, and we’re grateful to all our partners who support the event and help us raise funds for charity."