It was somewhat ironic that the last BRIT Awards before Brexit turned out to be such a UK-centric affair.
The show might have started and finished with spectacular performances from international superstars – Australia-via-Hollywood’s Hugh Jackman and the USA’s Pink – but the rest of the show went back to the old school to show that British music can still take on the world. And hey, even The Greatest Showman and Alecia Moore phenomena have generally been more appreciated on these shores than in their places of origin.
That none of the international winners could attend is a problem that increasingly affects all awards shows. But, while the 2019 Grammys threatened to become more about its absentees than those who actually turned up, Britain’s homegrown stars “stepped up” to ensure no one was talking afterwards about perfunctory acceptance videos (The Carters aside, obvs). UK artists proved they have no trouble providing big moments, from Calvin Harris' four-megastars-for-the-price-of-one collaboration, to Little Mix's riotous duet with Ms Banks (pictured) and Jorja Smith's spellbinding performance.
British music will need plenty of that ambition in the months and years ahead. Just as Brexit threatens our worldwide industrial standing, so the shift to global streaming consumption could undermine our historical status as one of pop’s superpowers.
English is still the international language of pop, but for how much longer? More than half of 2018’s biggest videos on BRITs sponsors YouTube were sung in other languages. And the sheer population weight of countries in South America and Asia will make that an ever-growing global trend as streaming takes off in markets that never previously contributed to the legal music biz.
Just as Brexit threatens our worldwide industrial standing, so the shift to global streaming consumption could undermine our historical status as one of pop’s superpowers.
The BRITs YouTube livestream, which helped the ceremony reach a huge international audience, will help with that. But, even as the BRITs Class Of 2019 produced moments to be discussed around watercoolers and in playgrounds from Land’s End to John O’Groats, it seemed significant that Ed Sheeran picked up the Global Success award for the second year in a row, despite not having an album out in 2018.
Because, while the BRITs showed the UK scene can survive without overseas stars, the local industry still needs international breakouts if it’s to keep punching above its weight. Isolation, however splendid, is still something UK music should look to avoid.