On a night that featured showstopping performances and guest appearances aplenty, it was a deeply moving tribute to the late George Michael that this year’s BRITs will ultimately be remembered for, while the industry also paid its respects to the great many artists and performers that passed away in 2016.
Taking to the stage to pay their respects to Michael, who unexpectedly passed away on Christmas Day, were former bandmates Andrew Ridgeley and Pepsi and Shirley, who delivered an emotional tribute to the star. This was followed by a performance of Michael’s solo hit A Different Corner by Coldplay’s Chris Martin in which he dueted with Michael via video footage of him performing live on his last tour.
Meanwhile, actor Michael C Hall, who recently took the lead in the West End production of Bowie’s Lazarus, accepted the late icon’s British Male Solo Artist Award.
On top of that, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Skepta, Robbie Williams, Emeli Sande, Little Mix, Bruno Mars and The 1975 all delivered crowd-pleasing performances on the night.
And while there was much to choose from, here we present five of the key highlights from the BRIT Awards 2017.
The George Michael tribute
The tribute to the late, great star could not have been more tasteful. When Ridgeley and Pepsi and Shirley took the stage you could have heard a pin drop in The O2, London. “George’s contribution to the British archive of contemporary music rests alongside the immortals,” said Ridgeley. “His is a legacy of unquestionable brilliance and one that will shine and resonate for generations to come.”
“We always knew George was destined to become a star in his own right,” said Pepsi. “On tour we would watch him sing, his voice stunning and his performances spellbinding.”
Shirley added: “The side to George that was unknown was the enormous help he gave to charities. His generosity gifted so many people the chance to improve their lives, and anyone who asked for George’s help invariably got it. George was like a brother to me and I will always be proud of his achievements. His beautiful voice will live on forever.”
In an unexpected appearance, Chris Martin then delivered a powerful rendition of Michael’s A Different Corner, dueting with Michael via video footage and accompanied by a live orchestra, in a truly memorable BRITs moment.
Michael C Hall’s David Bowie tribute
Accepting the British Male Solo Artist award on behalf of the late David Bowie, Hall highlighted Bowie’s enduring influence on future generations, as well as his outsider status. “If David Bowie could be here tonight, he probably wouldn’t be here tonight,” he said. “But since he can’t be here tonight, I’ve been asked on behalf of his family to accept this testament to a man beholden to nothing but his own boundless imagination and daring, whose ever-expanding artistic vitality simultaneously soothes us and sears us and astonishes us. Maybe he is here tonight. But I’m honoured to stand before you and honour the potency of his work.”
Grime lights up the BRITs
While tonight’s nominated grime artists may have left empty handed, it was two of the genre’s shining lights that lit up The O2. Skepta delivered an electric performance of his hit Shutdown, while Stormzy brought an edge to an already impressive Ed Sheeran performance, as he joined him as a guest on hit single Shape Of You. On a night that served up many a top performance, this one was arguably one of the best.
The rise of Rag’N’Bone Man
After a monumental couple of weeks for man of the moment Rag’N’Bone Man, the UK star become the first artist in BRITs history to scoop both the Critics’ Choice and British Breakthrough Act Award. Having scored a record-breaking No.1 album with Human, 2017 looks set to get even bigger for Rag’N’Bone Man, while the demand for a genuine breakthrough UK act appears to have been well and truly serviced.
Coldplay and Chainsmokers surprise appearance
In an unscheduled turn of events, Chris Martin followed up his emotional George Michael performance with a surprise appearance with DJ and production duo Chainsmokers. The two acts made the most of the BRIT platform, performing and launching brand new single Something Just Like This, which was made available immediately after the show. The dance-inflected track certainly proved a hit with the crowd and has hit written all over it.
You can view the BRITs 2017 winners in full here.