Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Aspirin And Aftershave

The route from Frithville Gardens – the last appointment of this particular #IBoR day – to the collecting of Tiggles Bearwood from meetings in the backwaters of Chelsea is fraught with rush-hour traffic. Our metropolis-exit, bypassing the Great West Road, finds the #HiddenMasters-mobile halted at one set of traffic lights after another.

We’re stuck beside white-van man whose vehicle is belching a pungent cocktail of diesel fumes, stale nicotine and van-interior air-freshener. In the general 2 o’clock direction as the crow might fly is a building above who’s front door is emblazoned a large semi-circular, globe-like logo.

It’s one of the London homes of Universal – an entrance through which I’ve trudged more than a few times of late in quest of cementing our template masters’ rights agreement. This late afternoon, however, the building looks quieter than usual; the lights on the top floor (where the senior executives prowl and growl over dissemination of percentages of net or gross earnings) are dimmed. The usual ebb and flow of hot and cold running secretaries and personal assistants stemmed by the mass-exodus across-town… Because…

It’s the late afternoon before the evening of... that precedes the morning after… of The Brits.

Britain’s prime-time televised, annual be-dinner-jacketed man-hugging / scooped into little-black-number air-kissing ladies pop-awards event… The dress-codes alone should tell you everything you need to know.

Its our very own Grammys… And, lest we imagine otherwise, an ab-fab joyous celebration of all that’s super-duper in Popular Music emanating (more or less) from our wonderfully green and pleasant. Smashing.

Now… I speak (write) with a degree of previous with regard to this annual back-slapping fest. Among the many highlights of previous years would be when Sam Fox and her improbable-sized Page 3 chest stood alongside Mick Fleetwood's waist at the height of his substance addiction, jointly (sic) reading the wrong cue-cards at the Royal Albert Hall.

When Jarvis Cocker invaded the stage and pulled down his trousers as Michael Jackson ‘entertained’ children on stage while posing in a scene reminiscent of the crucifixion.

Another at The Grosvenor Hotel when the aforementioned Jacko tipped up with Giant Haystacks as his minder for the evening; an event during which the Storey bladder became over-full with the non-chilled and I found myself at the next again urinal, standing right beside the aforementioned member (sic) of the Jackson Five.

The night when John Prescott had a bucket of warm-Champagne emptied over his head by Chumbawamba – proof positive that politics and anarchist punk ‘n roll really shouldn’t mix.

Debacles every one of ‘em… and, last night was no different – the only difference was the music but, true to form, the Brits (yet again) proved itself long past its sell-by date.

That’s not to say (and similar to most years) that some aspects worked. Remember Robbie Williams embracing all the best bits of Norman Wisdom and totally up-staging Tom Jones before the latter turned entirely orange? Or Liam Gallagher’s ‘if you think you’re ‘ard enough’ gong-acceptance speech? The Pet Shop Boys and a bunch of Welsh Miners singing Go West – if never seen, worth the YouTube visit for that alone.

And last night there was Adele; simplicity itself… a great tune… fabulously understated band… and that soaring vocal. (Unfortunate camera angles that dwelled over-long upon the rippling posteriors of her amply-proportioned backing singers but… hey... that’s ITV for you).

Yet, while that simplicity exuded sheer quality, the show, as a whole, did not.

I can’t claim to have any insider knowledge on something called Bruno Marrrrs and his preposterous quiff (I believe his second name has more than one R). But, c’mon laddie… ease up on the spray-tan… and… it’d be not a bad idea to be able to actually sing.

Honestly… was his a voice to be celebrated? Having been lucky enough to have worked with more than a few of the greatest interpretative singers of all-time and then seeing / listening to that… Hello… music industry… is there anyone out there? In another year, all those iTunes downloads and hastily-bought CDs will be swamping computer trash-bins and Charity shops alike.

As for One Direction… kinda says it all that their records are doing well in what can most kindly be termed Lady-boy countries. Another couple of years and those band-members not in rehab will be appearing way down the bill in provincial pantomime.

We were treated to Lana Del Ray poured into her Jessica Rabbit gravity defying dress on the edge of tv-blubbing as she collected her skittle (the re-design of the actual Brit award was a complete nonsense); there was the (rather sad) sight of Noel Gallagher clearly missing Liam’s vocal on what was otherwise a semi-decent slab of rock ‘n roll that included Chris Martin hunched over his piano deftly adding the twiddly bits in an attempt to transform the ordinary to the almost quite good.

And then came Rhianna – with a costume as ill-fitting as the Euro-bail out of the Greek National debt – I still can’t figure out just who her auto-tuned vocal actually says anything to? In chalk and cheese comparisons Etta James passed away (sadly) not too long back – and yes, I know she’s not British but then neither is Rhianna – but the latter would be well-advised to invest in the former’s entire catalogue and secrete herself away… To listen and learn that great singing does not involve three-dozen scantily clad dancers nor does it involve crotch-moves that would look out of place in a pornographic B-movie.

And Blur… yes, probably was more or less appropriate that they got a gong for their ‘outstanding contribution’. But… it strikes me that the very word appears to be misrepresented here and I find it entirely incongruous that while they (deservedly) received recognition, that someone like Bob Marley was overlooked. After all, it can hardly be down to nationality when the likes of U2 and Van Morrison have both collected ‘outstanding contribution’ gongs.

And Damon – for pity’s sake, learn to do your belt up… ‘cos, the exposure of the Albarn, M&S styled horizontally-striped underpant that revealed way too much Allbran is, really, not an attractive sight. Nearing your middle years, you really should know better. And, if you really do need to bare your arse, then show a bit of dignified cheek by studying the Jarvis Cocker methodology. Please.

The lights are out and, at the 2012 Brits no one’s home. It’s a just a TV show that tries to please everyone and fails miserably due to that very fact.

Its no wonder then that lower key events such as the Mojo Awards or The Mercury Music Prize exist… and continue to thrive. Why? They know what they are and don’t pretend otherwise and neither do they try so hard.