“We have to make this year bigger and better than ever.”
That was Declan Donnelly, half of the comedy duo Ant & Dec, laying out his goal at the top of this year’s Brit Awards, which went down Wednesday night at the O2 Arena in London.
So did the show, basically England’s version of the Grammy Awards, live up to that promise? Well, it didn’t have Kanye West, who famously brought flamethrowers (and a boatload of four-letter words) to the 2015 edition.
But one thing is for sure: The Brits definitely beat this year’s Grammys. Here are five reasons why.
- Rihanna showed up.
The pop superstar was booked to play the Grammys but bailed at the last minute (for reasons nobody can quite agree on). Here, though, she made it to the stage to do a medley of two songs from her new “Anti” album: “Consideration,” for which she was joined by SZA, and “Work,” which featured a surprise cameo from Drake. The latter, in particular, was good: woozy, raunchy, a bit sloppy.
- Justin Bieber didn't forsake the beat.
Only time will allow us to forget the ghastly Warped Tour remake of “Where Are U Now” that Bieber did at the Grammys. But the singer made some headway here in a spirited rendition of “Sorry” that conjured a lost weekend at Burning Man. Bonus points for a stripped-down take on “Love Yourself” with James Bay, who fared far better with Bieber than he did with Tori Kelly on the Grammys.
- The show had Little Mix.
This British quartet is just the latest in a long line of delightful girl groups whose success at home hasn’t quite propelled them across the pond. (Pour one out for Girls Aloud.) At the Brits, Little Mix’s typically daffy run through “Black Magic” showed why that’s our loss.
- Lorde connected with David Bowie.
Preceded by Gary Oldman, who gave the kind of informative, deeply felt speech that Grammy tributes almost always lack, Lorde’s touching homage to David Bowie (with a single well chosen song, “Life on Mars?”) was a big improvement over Lady Gaga’s showy but shallow sprint through 10 of the late icon’s tunes.
- Adele hit the right note.
Perhaps it was the armful of awards she won (including album of the year for “25”). Or maybe she was just more comfortable before an audience that knows what it means to be “a girl from Tottenham,” as she described herself. Either way, Adele seemed infinitely more at ease doing “When We Were Young” at the Brits than she did during her off-key Grammys performance.
David Bowie's 'Blackstar' gets an experimental film tribute on Instagram
The All Def Movie Awards were everything the Oscars won't be
Five ways to help solve the Grammys' trouble with tributes