Indeed, it was the grime artist who took home two of the most prestigious awards of the evening, edging out the multi-platinum-selling Sheeran on both occasions to win British Male Solo Artist and the big prize of British Album of the Year for his debut LP Gang Signs & Prayer.
Having been nominated for five awards, the most of the evening and also a record for a female solo artist, 22 year old Dua Lipa took home two prizes, for British Female Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act. However, her signature hit ‘New Rules’ was confusingly pipped to the post for British Single of the Year by the personality vacuum of Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, whose ‘Human’ single was released all the way back in July 2016.
There was also controversy surrounding the fan-voted British Video of the Year award, which went to ex-One Directioner Harry Styles for his video for ‘Sign of the Times’, despite many Little Mix fans being up in arms and pointing out that the girl-group’s video for ‘Touch’ had been top of the rankings when voting closed that evening.
So @BRITs, Little Mix clearly won. What's your explanation? Rigged or y'all really just can't handle a girl group breaking records? (credit to the owner) #BRITsAreRigged #BRITs pic.twitter.com/vK2bhaD7zh— Little Legends Facts (@ShadyMixerFacts) February 21, 2018
Other prizes of the evening went to Foo Fighters (who won International Group for the fourth time in their career), Kendrick Lamar (International Male Solo Artist) and Lorde (International Female Solo Artist).
On winning the British Group prize for Gorillaz – incredibly, the first time they’ve won a BRIT –the band’s co-creator Damon Albarn gave a rather slurred speech, not-so-subtly about Brexit. Amid a carefully choreographed ceremony, it was a throwback to the chaos of Nineties BRITs ceremonies where well-lubricated acceptance speeches were the norm.
Aside from the so-called ‘Global Success’ Award, a spurious trophy essentially invented so that he / Adele / Sam Smith / whoever happens to be in the middle of a massive promotional cycle can win it in any given year, Sheeran was surprisingly overlooked, just like he was at the Grammys last month.
On the performance side, the evening ended on a note of pure energy when Stormzy closed out the ceremony following his massive Album of the Year win, including launching a furious broadside at Theresa May and the Tories over the Grenfell Tower saga.
Kendrick Lamar’s scintillating on-stage sets, which he has recently been touring round the UK, sank like a lead balloon amid technical hitches and ITV’s overly-cautious use of the ‘Audio Muted’ function. Which is a deeply disrespectful approach from the broadcaster, and makes you wonder why the BRITs bother inviting rappers at all.
not drunk, just living my truth https://t.co/WTARWSCenR— Este Haim (@jizziemcguire) February 21, 2018
Another much-discussed event happened when host Jack Whitehall (less irritating than usual) sat down with Cheryl and Liam Payne and cheekily discussed ‘safe words’ in the bedroom. Their replies arched eyebrows, but that moment was upstaged by bassist Este Haim sitting at the table behind them in the background, who pulled some hilarious surprise faces to the interview she was overhearing and stole the hearts of people commenting on social media.