With splashy performances by Katy Perry and Bruno Mars and major trophies presented to Adele and Beyoncé, Wednesday’s Brit Awards might’ve convinced those paying only partial attention that they were watching a replay of last week’s Grammys.
Yet the U.K.’s most prestigious music awards show, held at London’s O2 Arena and set to air Wednesday night on BBC America, had plenty of its own moments as well.
Here are five of them.
1. Bowie wins big
The late David Bowie was the night’s top winner, with posthumous prizes for British album of the year (for “Blackstar”) and British male solo artist. (“Blackstar” was named alternative music album at the Grammys, while the title track won awards for rock song and rock performance.)
Bowie’s son Duncan Jones accepted the album of the year on his father’s behalf, delivering a heartwarming speech in which he said he’d been thinking recently about what to tell his 7-month-old son about Bowie.
“I think it would be the same thing that most of my dad’s fans have taken over the last 50 years,” Jones said. “He’s always been there supporting people who think they’re a little bit weird, or a little bit strange, a little bit different. And he’s always been there for them.”
Jones finished by dedicating the prize to “all the kooks and all the people who make the kooks.”
2. A farewell to George
Like the Grammys, the Brits featured a prominent tribute to George Michael, whose death on Christmas Day shocked the pop world. And as at the earlier show (which featured Adele doing a very shaky rendition of Michael’s “Fastlove”), the tribute here wasn’t built around one of the singer’s global hits but a slightly deeper cut — in this case, “A Different Corner,” from 1986.
Chris Martin of Coldplay did the honors Wednesday, navigating the tricky intervals of Michael’s delicate ballad before being joined by the late pop star himself, who appeared on a large video screen.
3. Coldplay wants a hit
Martin turned up again later when Coldplay took the stage for an unadvertised performance of “Something Just Like This,” the band’s brand-new collaboration with the Chainsmokers.
What to say about this song, which sounds like it could’ve been written (and recorded) as the two Chainsmokers and all four members of Coldplay caught some Zs? It makes clear how eager Martin is to score an American radio hit ahead of the band’s U.S. stadium tour this summer.
4. Welcoming the hate
More appealing — and far, far funnier — was the 1975, which after scooping up the award for British group played its ecstatic pop-soul hit “The Sound” as negative comments regarding the ultra-polarizing band (presumably gleaned from social media) flashed across the screen.
“Do people still really make music like this?” read one insult, while another said, “They’re essentially making robotic Huey Lewis tunes.”
Talk about a recipe for success.
5. Drake takes a whack
Drake was among several high-profile artists who opted to sit out the Grammys this year (along with Justin Bieber and Frank Ocean) in apparent protest of the show’s old-fashioned value system.
Yet the Canadian rapper made time for the Brits, appearing on video to accept the award for international male solo artist — and, it seemed, to take a whack at the Grammys.
“This is probably the most important award to me that I could possibly win,” he said in his speech.
Hear that, Recording Academy?