Most Americans went through the week largely unaware that the BRIT Awards (arguably the UK’s equivalent of the Grammys) took place Wednesday night to much fanfare across the pond. However, the awards and festivities are worth noting because as history has shown, UK artists who present a strong showing in Britain go on to hit it big in the States, as well. So while some of the awards went to already-established global successes, the lesser-known winners are worth noting, because their wins may give us a clue as to the “next big thing” over here.
The awards themselves generally fall into two categories—British and International. This year, “International” might as well have read “American,” because hot American acts certainly dominated this year. Lana Del Rey and Frank Ocean won the International Female and Male Acts of the Year, respectively, while The Black Keys took International Group of the Year. A few other non-surprises included Adele’s pick-up of best British Single for “Skyfall,” and Mumford & Sons winning in the British Group category.
The most interesting wins—and the ones we Yanks ought to pay the most attention to—are the night’s two biggest winners, R&B Emeli Sandé and folk singer Ben Howard, each of whom took home two awards. Sandé, who took home awards for British Female Solo Artist and British Album of the Year (for her album Our Version of Events), is already starting to become familiar here in the U.S., and has been mentioned here before as one to watch. Howard, who won in the British Male Solo Artist and Breakthrough Artist categories, has only seen modest radio airplay here in the U.S. thus far, but his debut album Every Kingdom managed to top album charts at Number 10 last year, and his growing momentum overseas could very well put his music into the playlists of many Americans soon. Keep a sharp eye out for both of these up-and-comers.
Live performances are integral to every awards show, and the BRITS were lit up with performances by Muse, Mumford & Sons, Justin Timberlake, One Direction and others. Taylor Swift’s performance of “I Knew You Were Trouble,” during which she took off a white wedding dress to reveal black lingerie, was even more brazen in its aim-taking at Swift’s latest ex, Harry Styles; the One Direction singer apparently took it in stride.
While the BRIT Awards have neither the history nor the magnitude of most American music awards (at least here in the American bubble), as popular music continues to become more instantly global (see: PSY), the BRITs are likely to become more of an influence on the music industry here in the States in years to come. While many of this year’s winners were not surprising (many of them are fresh off of Grammy wins just a couple of weekends ago), winners like Ben Howard and Emeli Sandé may be a sign of things to come.