I could run for the hills having watched – sorry, qualify that – subjected myself to torture by watching The Brits last night. No ‘everyday’ wine in the house, I was grabbing for the opened bottle of red by the cooker within minutes! Interestingly, I tried to steady the blood pressure by regarding the programme and its content as a metaphor for life, today; something suitably depressing for me to write about!
It’s the 40th year of The Brit Awards so, 1980 it was, then, before the onslaught of technology and social media. Life was still bright enough to require shades (reference to humorous song title). There was a comforting normality still in existence along with the family unit and an overall balance. Punk was in full swing – laughingly, now, so rebellious at the time – but, in no way, able to eclipse the talent that was, and is, Elton John, Billy Joel, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen, to name but a few. Male dominated? Not an issue, as I remember. The huge female artists of the seventies such as Carole King and Carly Simon had assured their longevity as Kate Bush emerged, Annie Lennox and, of course, Madonna. Before reality shows and instant fame, merit still mattered.
Fast forward four decades and it is like falling into the dark abyss. Yes, it is the music industry but, while the sex and rock ‘n’ roll may be old news, the drugs are still in bold print together with an unbridled anger; an anger which seems to be all-encompassing citing politics, racism, inequality and every phobia in the book! What happened to the music? Of course, every generation before is going to criticise the next and each has its own soundtrack but that programme, last night, paid little heed. Fuelled by alcohol, the mood was drunken and arrogant but, more than that, it was dark – and biased.
Harry Styles. Singing up to his ankles in water dressed like an exhumed mime artist – all in white down to the gloves and pearls – one couldn’t help but laugh. It’s all been done before but there’s no denying that the guy has talent. His songs, self-penned, are heartfelt and melodic – without doubt inspired by the music of his parents’ day – and he can sing! A little on the short side, granted but … His album, Fine Line, is, reportedly, superb but there was no Brit for him. No, that went to Dave, a black rapper from South London, for his work aptly entitled, Psychodrama. Performing a song, Black, taken from it, the crowd were anything but impartial. Dramatic in delivery, the lyrics, however, were anger-driven, rooted in racism and penned to incite. There are no boundaries anymore and, thus, the night became one of the black voice claiming that of the victim as its own. Boris Johnson was called ‘a real racist’ while Meghan suffered for her colour … of course! ‘Everyone that’s inside doing their time, hold it down. I love you guys!’ Seriously? Whatever happened to ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon’? The platform was Dave’s for the taking, handed to him, on a plate, by a world forced to listen but dared to speak!
Best International Male Artist went to Tyler, The Creator … Pause and reflect. He was in the same category as Bruce Springsteen! I must say, though, it does highlight an erstwhile lack of imagination in naming one’s children. Andrew, The Almighty? Rebecca, The Revered? I let them down, obviously.
Continuing. I have pages of notes, here, increasingly illegible the more incensed I became. Stormzy – I have heard of him – won Best Solo Artist. Predictable. Forget the more mainstream Harry Styles, though I have to question whether the same would have been true had he been black? Like Dave, the popular rapper was one of the performers of the night, rousing the crowd with the repeated lyric, ‘Let them make fool of my enemies!’. Anger and division, once again. Us and them.
‘I’m not going to spend my life being a colour.’
Black or White, Michael Jackson.
Ironically, he did exactly that. Stormzy and Dave, however – and those whom they strive to incite – would do well to listen to his words. Boris Johnson is not racist. Meghan Markle was not criticised for her colour but for her actions. To define oneself by one’s colour only serves to keep racism alive – but interestingly, too, enables the denial of responsibility. The power, meanwhile, lies in the hands of the individual who has no need for the crowd.
Phew! Perhaps I should just have practised my drums … Before I leave the subject, though, I must mention that Lewis Capaldi won two awards for Song of the Year and Best New Artist – both acceptances a complete embarrassment! Resigned to the fact that talent pays no heed to ignorance, I have never been more happy to see Rod Stewart! As he sang ‘I don’t want to talk about it’, I could only reflect on the gaping chasm of the passing years and the demise of everything Great about Britain. Now, if only I could rap …
‘No longer shall we seek to place blame for our condition elsewhere or to look to others to take responsibility for our development. We are the masters of our own fate.’
Nelson Mandela, Cape Town, July 2002.
This is Trish, signing off.