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BRIT Awards 2014: Are they needed?

It is finally here, it is BRIT Awards night! David Bowie, Prince, Arctic Monkeys, Katy Perry, Beyoncé (who may or may not be there), Pharrell (who will be there, Vivienne Westwood hat may or may not) will all be in attendance. As well as the amazing list of nominees and performers, British music gets to bask in the spotlight for two and a half whole hours. The BRIT Awards, hosted at the O2, London, have been recognising and celebrating British music since 1977, and tonight marks their 37th Awards ceremony. In case you have missed all the pre-show buzz, here are a list of the nominees.

Pretty amazing, right? Excited much? Yes, we are too. However, even with so many British acts recognised for their achievements and a plethora of musical greatness, both in attendance and set to grace the stage, there are some who remain a lot less enthusiastic.

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The BRITs have not gone without critique. It has been said that the awards are not representative enough of the genres birthed here and does nothing to recognise underground scenes/genres. Then there is the matter of credibility. Often described as ‘The BRIT School Reunion’ insinuating that performers who attended The BRIT School are given preference, or always seem to win – and of course, Noel Gallagher always has some form ‘constructive feedback’ for the show, every year – but in all honesty, if we didn’t have the BRITs to put British music – both emerging and established – on the map, who would?

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We ask a cross-section of the British music industry, ‘Are the BRITs needed?’

Context – British Rapper:
“Needed’ is a loaded notion. It throws up questions like: needed for whom, or needed for what? A good analogy is… like saying, ‘Are graduation ceremonies at universities ‘needed’? The student has their degree, so why have it? But for me, it’s about collectively celebrating achievement and that’s what the BRITs do. However imperfect you may think it is, the BRITs lets us all collectively celebrate British music, and as well we should”.

Greg Sawyer – Defected Records, Public Relations:
“I’d say that the concept of an ‘underground’ genre is a bit misleading. Hip-hop used to be considered non-mainstream, and look what’s happened there. Same with house, and now acts like Disclosure have absolutely popularised it in the mainstream.

From our perspective, it’s great that some of these acts are enjoying so much success as it increases our potential fanbase. We had Disclosure play for us in Ibiza last year, and it was undoubtedly one of the most successful nights on the island. The lines between mainstream, chart success and the electronic underground are becoming ever more blurred.

Having said that, the BRITs aren’t something we really pay that much attention to. Sure, there is the odd act that crosses into our world – like Disclosure and Rudimental from this year’s nominees – but essentially it’s still something that operates and takes its cues from a much more mainstream world. It’s not something that underground acts should be worried about. If you’re an ‘underground’ artist aiming for recognition in an awards show like the BRITs, then you’re missing the point.”

VV Brown – British Singer/Songwriter:
“I think the BRIT Awards is a great thing. We have such a pool of amazing talent in this country and I think it’s awesome to celebrate our Britishness, our multi-culturalism, our history and roots, our alternative methods of pop music our international impact and innovation. Artists work so hard to get to the levels they get to and I think it’s great for us to celebrate them.”

For those who aren’t heading to the O2 tonight, the BRITs will be broadcast live on ITV1 at 8pm

- Trina John-Charles



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