The 2021 BRIT Awards were full of surprises, not least of all a real, live audience. The first IRL event in over a year saw 4,000 maskless attendees – an
audience of key workers, no less – gathered at the O2 to watch the ceremony, hosted by the one and only Jack Whitehall.
It was a big night for female acts, with the Global Icon, Rising Star, Breakthrough Artist, British Group,
and Album Of The Year Awards all being won my women. Taylor Swift and Griff were awarded the Global Icon and Rising Star prizes respectively, while Arlo Parks was named Breakthrough Artist of the year. The British Group gong went to Little Mix, while Dua Lipa picked up the Mastercard Album Of The Year award for Future Nostalgia, and Haim took home the International Group prize.
Of course, there were brilliant performances too.
Years & Years’ Olly Alexander performed the Pet Shop Boys hit “It’s A Sin” in a breathtaking duet with Elton John. (The same song inspired the title of Russell T Davies’s gut-wrenching Channel 4 drama set during the AIDS crisis in ’80s London, which Alexander starred in last year.)
Jack Whitehall was on top form, too. Its hard to pick his best bit, but his “this arena has been emptier than Piers Morgan’s diary” gag, and the Nathan Evans sea shanty throwing shade on Olly Murs were definitely up there. Here are eight other major moments from the 2021 BRIT Awards you may have missed.
Jackie Weaver’s Line of Duty moment
Jackie Weaver, the Zoom tsar of
that viral meeting of the Handforth Parish Council, joined Jack Whitehall to intro the ceremony in a truly genius bit, which also starred Line of Duty’s Vicky McClure and Martin Compston reeling off their best Line of Duty lingo. Weaver would even rival the Gaffer though, her epic line: “Now, listen up, you little twerp. If you don’t get on with it, I’ll kick you off.” Little Mix’s #GirlPower magic Olivia Rodrigo’s personal notes
I’m not going to lie, the anticipation of an Olivia Rodrigo x Taylor Swift moment was heavy in the air. Alas, it wasn’t to be. However, the “Drivers Licence” singer didn’t leave it there. According to
PopSugar, Rodrigo passed out several handwritten letters to fellow BRIT attendees including Taylor (!), Harry Styles, and Little Mix. Eagle eyed fans spotted the purple envelopes emblazoned with a butterfly and the words "Hope ur OK, Olivia Rodrigo" written across each. Michelle Obama stanned The Weeknd
Best International Male at this year’s BRITs by the former First Lady, who highlighted his many charitable donations – including to the coronavirus relief effort, Black Lives Matter, and food aid in Ethiopia – and praised him for giving us “all a reason to dance.”
Headie One’s powerful performance
Headie One was joined by AJ Tracey and Young T & Bugsey for a searing rendition of “Ain't It Different” and “Princess Cuts” - with a few modified lyrics. Singing from a newspaper-covered box designed by Virgil Abloh, the trio took aim at the negative and racist stereotypes associated with drill music ("What else can a drill youth rap about part from my worst days, You see me on stage but I was in jail for three of my birthdays”), the demonisation of Black youth (“Two Black Brits stand here at the Brits but still we ain't seen as British”), Marcus Rashford’s philanthropic efforts (“The government is saying eat out to help out but won’t help out Rashford when he’s feeding the youths”), and COVID-19 key workers (“Team work keeps the dream working. It’s only right we show love to the key workers”).
Yes, just Harry Styles. The Gucci suit. The matching handbag. The mask. The hair. The pearly oyster nail polish... He’s just too much, isn’t he? Rumours were rampant that he might show, but instead of walking the red carpet or making a big show of his attendance, Styles snuck in and every so cooly took home the Best British Single for “
Watermelon Sugar”. Talk about dreamy. Lewis Capaldi & #AudioMuted
Lewis Capaldi had a classic Capaldi moment as the presenter for Best British Album. For those watching on ITV, the “Someone You Loved” singer was #AudioMuted from the very beginning. So much so that it became a trending topic on Twitter straight away. True to form, the memes were
quality. A poignant end to a jubilant night
Closing proceedings at the O2 Arena was a touching performance by Rag’n’Bone Man, Pink!, and the NHS Choir. All proceeds from their “Anywhere Away From Here” – available to buy now – are going to NHS charities. Whitehall summed it up well when he said: “It’s been a year of fear and isolation, but music has an incredible power to connect us. We will never again take for granted the chance to gather like this.”