The BRITs 2020 are coming...

With the 40th BRIT Awards taking place this February, we explore the show's history and what we can look forward to this year... 

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The BRIT Awards celebrates a huge milestone this year, with a 40th anniversary edition taking place on 18th February at the O2 arena in London.

It is, without doubt, the UK's highest-profile music awards ceremony and over the years has become a benchmark for similar events across the world.

The BRIT Awards exist to celebrate mainstream musical achievements across the previous 12-months. Each year, nine awards are handed out to winners based on the voting of the 1,200 members of the BRITS Voting Academy. The membership features a diverse range of experts from all areas of the UK music industry including artists, retailers, promoters, agents, publishers, labels, producers and media.

The awards include Male and Female Solo Artist, Group of the Year, New Artist, Song Of The Year, BRITs Rising Star and Mastercard Album Of The Year. Nominees are thought to reflect the UK’s most popular, and biggest-selling artists and recordings of the past twelve months (according to The Official Charts), along with those deemed by the Academy to be the year’s most exciting talents. 

dele performing ‘Someone Like You’ at the 2011 BRITS

Adele performing ‘Someone Like You’ at the 2011 BRITS (Photo courtesy of brits.co.uk)

Since 2007, the BRIT Awards has been aired live and delivered some spectacular moments. Adele’s performance of ‘Someone Like You’ from her album ‘21’  (5 million copies sold in the UK and counting) at the 2011 BRITs, was widely considered to be one of the event's greatest performances. 

In contrast, Madonna’s dramatic tumble at the 2015 show, Jarvis Cocker's stage invasion during Michael Jackson’s performance back in 1996 and plenty of off-camera controversies are talked about long after the last award has been handed out. However, each and every year, artists push the musical envelope. In 2019, the show opened with Hugh Jackman and a cast of hundreds (including a troupe of acrobats), with a performance from the year’s best-selling soundtrack album ‘The Greatest Showman’. The show climaxed with the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to  Pink, who delivered an electric set, literally flanked by fire and rain.

The Rising Star Award

A pivotal part of the BRITs in recent years has been the Critics’ Choice Award, which this year has been renamed ‘The Rising Star Award’. The prize is open to developing UK artists yet to achieve a recording in the Official Top 20 Album or Singles chart.

Initiated in 2008, the award has helped launch some of the most successful British artists of the past decade including Sam Fender, Adele, Florence + The Machine, Sam Smith and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man. This year's winner is the British-Jamaican singer Celeste. 

Celeste was born in Los Angeles, but raised in Brighton in the UK. She started performing music and writing her own music as a teenager and has since garnered critical acclaim for a string of singles including ‘Lately’, ‘Father’s Son’ and most recently ‘Strange’, which was featured on BBC Radio 1. Celeste now regularly sells-out her live shows and has supported the likes of Michael Kiwanuka and Janelle Monae as well as duetting with Paul Weller.

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Rising Star Award winner 2020 Celeste (Photo courtesy of brits.co.uk)

My earliest memory of the BRITs was 2002 when I was around eight years old ... it was a cold winter evening and I was glued to my TV. I remember being in a frenzy with every word that was sung. It was in that exact moment that I thought I would like to be a part of that one day. So to be nominated for the Rising Star award is a huge honour, especially to be recognised this early in my career.”
Celeste, winner of the 2020 BRITs Rising Star Award

BRITs Warchild 2020 Gigs

2020 BRITs Week, produced by AEG Presents, BPI and War Child

Another feature of the BRITs over the past five years is the partnership with O2, AEG Presents and the charity War Child to put on a series of 'BRITs Week' concerts. This sees some of the biggest names in music play in a variety of London venues with all proceeds going to children whose lives have been damaged by war.

Last year, War Child UK raised an estimated £502,000 through BRITs Week shows. This year acts including multi-platinum selling BRIT Award winners Bastille, indie chart-toppers Bombay Bicycle Club, 2019 BRITs British Breakthrough winner Tom Walker and ex-One Directioner, Louis Tomlinson will be looking to raise even more. 

Appearing on the 2020 show is a list of who’s who in music today. At the time of writing, BRIT nominees Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Rod Stewart, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Mabel, Stormzy and Dave are slated to perform on the night while nominees include everyone from Tyler the Creator to Bring Me The Horizon and Dave. Read the full list of nominees

Chairman of The BRITs Committee for 2020 and Chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK David Joseph, has talked passionately about this year’s awards night being “a world-class celebration…a global platform for the artists of the year to create moments that live beyond the night itself. We are looking at everything to put on the best possible show”.

The BRIT Awards 2020 with Mastercard takes place Tuesday 18th February at The O2 Arena in London, broadcast on ITV starting at 8.00 PM and hosted by Jack Whitehall.

A TV special christened ‘The BRITs at 40’ will air on ITV on Tuesday February 11th to celebrate the 40th edition of The BRITs.   

Blog cover image: Lady Britannia BRIT statuettes (Photo courtesy of brits.co.uk)

Author: Julian Wall

julian_wall.pngJulian has worked at a range of record labels and industry organisations, in a career spanning several decades in the music industry. He was Director Independent Labels Membership at the BPI 2007-2012, VP International Marketing at The Sanctuary Group (Iron Maiden’s long-time management company) and held a variety of marketing, sales and promotion roles at Sony Records (RCA & Arista labels) and Universal Music (MCA & Phonogram Records). More recently, he was Head of Industry Relations, Press and PR at PledgeMusic, but left that company in 2018 pursuing a range of consultancy roles and freelance projects in music-related areas. Julian now teaches on our BA (Hons) Music Business and Entrepreneurship degree course.  

by Julian Wall
February 8, 2020
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