The organisation behind the Brit Awards, the BPI, has a habit of portraying the Brits as a lovable but wayward pubescent. In the weeks before the show (next year's will be held on February 14) it always issues statements claiming that the Brits are synonymous with unscripted craziness - you just never know what will happen at the so-called music industry Oscars! Remember Jarvis v Jackson? Remember when implacable political opponents Danbert Nobacon of Chumbawamba and John Prescott came face to face, and Nobacon did what any self-respecting anarchist would do? Must-see television, miss at your peril, etc.
It's all a smokescreen to obscure the fact that the Brits haven't gone off-piste in years. Nobody has so much as lobbed a vol au vent at host Chris Evans, let alone properly misbehaved. Not even the Kaiser Chiefs, who won three awards this year - so much for predicting a riot. And the Brits' other supposed big draw, one-off performances by unlikely duos, has become a stunt whose weakness was epitomised in 2006 by the pairing up of - wait for it - Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield.
Viewers' indifference was reflected in the ratings, which dropped to 4.6 million this year, despite performances by Coldplay and Kanye West. Part of the blame can be pinned on the surfeit of competing music awards programmes, from the NMEs to the Mobos. But the real problem for the Brits is the perception that they're stodgy and corporate. They can hardly deny it, given that their website is titled 'the Brit Awards with MasterCard'.The BPI's response was to announce yesterday that the 2007 awards would be the first in 20 years to be broadcast live. Viewers will see it as it happens, rather than an edited version 24-hours later, and you just know the organisers are praying that some pop star (James Blunt?) will be headbutted by another (a Sugababe, with the will of the entire nation behind her?) right on stage.
But it's just not going to happen. The people who win Brits these days aren't the applecart-upsetting type. If only Coldplay or Keane DID act up now and then. Keane, who won in 2005 and could win again in 2007, may have trouble in their ranks at the moment, with their frontman Tom Chaplin admitting to a drink and drugs problem, but they're not going to trash Earl's Court. The indignation that inspired Jarvis Cocker and Nobacon simply doesn't fire up the current batch of stars, who also seem to lack the appetite for comedy confrontations such as the off-stage row between So Solid Crew and Westlife a few years ago.
If the BPI wants fireworks, it'll have to resort to nominating alleged enemies Charlotte Church and Girls Aloud - but there's a problem there, too. The pop category has just been dropped (along with rock and urban), apparently because of the dearth of viable candidates. So who's going to supply the big "moment" now?
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