Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith were the big winners at the Brit Awards. The annual music industry spectacular rewarded the two biggest-selling artists of last year by bestowing two trophies on each on Wednesday night (February 25th).

Sheeran won the two biggest prizes for which he was nominated – those of British Male Solo Artist and Best British Album for his sophomore record X. He beat four other UK Number 1 albums to do so – rival Smith’s In The Lonely Hour, Royal Blood’s self-titled debut, indie stars Alt-J’s This Is All Yours and George Ezra’s slow-burning debut Wanted On Voyage.

Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran arriving for Wednesday night's Brit Awards, where he won twice

Though he was beaten by Sheeran in the biggest categories, it was nevertheless a successful night for Smith as well, as he added to his four-award haul at the Grammys a fortnight ago with a double victory on Thursday night. He picked up two Tracey Emin-designed awards for British Global Success and the publicly-voted category British Breakthrough Act.

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A major upset occurred as the heavy rock duo Royal Blood, who broke through to the mainstream only last summer, beat the likes of One Direction and Coldplay to win Best British Group. However, the rest of the awards went to predictable winners. Paloma Faith won British Female Solo Artist; Mark Ronson’s mega-smash ‘Uptown Funk!’ beat a field of nine rivals to Best British Single; and the public vote for Best Video went to – surprise surprise – One Direction.

In the international categories, rock mainstays Foo Fighters won Best International Group and Taylor Swift and Pharrell won International Female and Male Solo Artist respectively. The technical award for Best British Producer was won by Paul Epworth, who was involved with records by Coldplay and U2 last year.

Sam Smith
Sam Smith also won two awards at the Brits

The Brits are often criticised for being an excuse for music industry figures to cut loose and congratulate themselves at the expense of rewarding true artistry, but 2014 was a very successful year for British pop music, and this year’s awards were at least justified on that basis. However, the domination by white males means that accusations of a lack of diversity are unlikely to be dispelled.

Sheeran and Smith both performed at the ceremony, alongside other major names like Take That and Taylor Swift. However, the two most noteworthy performances were Kanye West’s spectacular unveiling of a new track – he filled in for Rihanna at the last minute after she didn’t show up for rehearsals earlier this week – and Madonna’s on-stage tumble during her closing number.

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