Brits 2021: Remembering the 15 most iconic moments before tonight’s awards
You Got The Dirtee Love is MY national anthem
You’re in year 8. Lady Gaga’s Poker Face is the best song you’ve ever heard and is on repeat on your iPod shuffle. The only telly that matters is Waterloo Road, the X Factor final and, most importantly, the Brit Awards.
It was the night of the year where you wouldn’t move from the sofa without fear of missing the moment everyone was going to be talking about in school the next day. The whole family assembled to see what shocking thing Russell Brand might say hosting, to keep an eye out for falls and for stage invasions and to reflect on the bangers that the UK never fails to release year after year. Good times.
With the 2021 Brits happening live at 8 tonight on ITV, and with Jack Whitehall primed to host for the fourth year running, we had a look back at the standout moments that make the Brits essential viewing every year:
Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress
When the Spice Girls stepped out to sing a mashup of Wannabe and Who Do You Think You Are in 1997, it was a great pop moment. But it wasn’t the performance that entered the history books – it was Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack mini dress that entered the pop culture history books as soon as she stepped out in it.
The dress’s legacy is so huge that it’s impossible to think of the Spice Girls without it. We do not speak about that weird Tory floor length version of it she dragged out on the Spice World 2o19 tour though, for the sake of everyone’s peace of mind.
Robbie Williams declaring he’s going to fight Liam Gallagher for some reason
“Would anybody like to see me fight, Liam?” … Not really!
Every second of this saga is a toe curler cringe overload. What did Robbie think was going on? Pointless displays of macho empty threats coming off the back of a fall out between Oasis gatekeeping the Britpop scene that Robbie was desperate to be seen in. Worse still was Noel Gallagher branding Robbie as “the fat dancer from Take That” soon after. Neither party put the 100 grand in the ring and no fisticuffs ever arrived. A flop through and through, but a funny one at that.
Kylie Minogue sings Can’t Get Blue Monday Out Of My Head
Kylie Minogue emerging from a giant CD player singing Can’t Get You Out Of My Head mashed up with the euphoric synth line of Blue Monday by New Order made me the homosexual I am today. Everything about this is pop heaven. The outfits! The staging! The star quality! It’s performances like this that make the world tune in to the Brits.
This is a personal call to arms for Brits to upload a 2021 HD remaster of this to their YouTube because it should be against the law to watch the most important footage of 2002 look like it was filmed on a Nokia.
Joss Stone doing a random American accent at the 2007 Brits
I must stress that this woman was born in Dover, in Kent, in England.
“Can I just say? It’s abouuuut tiiiiiime!”
This is what it’s all about. A bevvied Sarah Harding taking the microphone and bellowing immortal words at the Brits for Twitter to use as reaction memes 12 years later in 2021.
Girls Aloud finally winning the Brit they’d deserved for years was more than enough reason for Sarah to shout and I endorse every second of this behaviour.
You Got The Dirtee Love
Everything about this is a rush of adrenalin to my veins. The collaboration of Dizzee Rascal and Florence and the Machine is the most unlikely pairing on planet earth, but it’s what we didn’t know we needed.
Dizzee’s verses are pure fire, Flo’s vocals are soaring and heavenly and the perfect contrast and the plucking of the harp is just transcendent. Play this when they lower my coffin.
Cheryl performing Fight For This Love three days after her Ashley Cole divorce announcement
Right. It’s crucial to note that at this point in 2010, besides the Queen, Cheryl is probably the most famous woman in the country.
Girls Aloud were national treasures, she was killing it as everyone’s favourite X Factor judge, Fight For This Love was a huge hit single and she had a high profile footballer marriage to Ashley Cole. Cue: divorce news!
Then here comes Cheryl, quite literally shot up out of a cannon, at the Brits to perform a single about fighting for a romance, on the back of divorce news and without her wedding ring on. This is one of the biggest cultural moments of my lifetime and I’ll never recover from it. 2021 Brits could never.
“That rock and roll, eh?”
If you tried to pitch this speech as a parody of rock bands who take themselves too seriously, you’d be told that it was too on the nose.
Every word Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner says here is golden. The way he pronounces ‘swamp’ and ‘sludge’ is like he’s just got a BA Hons in Acting from RADA.
“Invoice me for the microphone if you need too.” *drops mic*. Golden.
Madonna’s cape fall
Everyone remembers where they were the moment they saw this. It’s a brutal fall, and one you can see coming a mile off as she clearly is struggling to untie the cape.
Quite a hard watch, especially knowing how much of a perfectionist Madonna is and how out to get her the media have been her whole career. Justice for this performance and justice for Living For Love – a huge banger overshadowed by a tumble.
Rihanna and Drake sing Work
I think I speak for everyone when I say: GOD. I miss Rihanna.
Opening with the sublime Consideration and then flowing into the dancehall wow that is Work, once Drake came out to duet on his bit it was game over. Probably the best music of Rihanna’s career. The Ibiza girlies were left shook by the iconic fringe pants that every high street retailer did their version of.
Little Mix drunkenly celebrating their win
This is just pure joy. Four great gals celebrating a deserved win, their friendship really strong and just happy to be there. It’s what the Brits should always be about and hopefully we get this energy again in 2021 if they win Best British Group tonight.
Jesy saying “it’s about time in the words of Sarah ‘Ardin!” in a northern accent is a god tier Little Mix moment.
Katy Perry’s dancing house falls off the stage
It was all getting political. Katy Perry was singing with Skip Marley about being chained to the rhythm, terrifying giant puppets built to resemble Theresa May and Donald Trump were presiding over a fleet of dancing houses. And then it all gets rounded off by one flopping off the stage. Classic.
Stormzy calls out Theresa May for Grenfell inaction
This is the kind of performance that people will look back and reflect on as such an important moment in British music history, and for British culture as a whole.
Stormzy using his platform to call out Theresa May publicly on her handling of the aftermath of the Grenfell fire was a moment where everyone watching was sat up in their seat and listening to every word he had to say. The staging, the power and the passion behind every second of this performance is so special and will have impact for years to come.
Lizzo and Harry Styles just being iconic mates
The 2020 Brits feel like a lifetime ago. Taking place in February 2020, it was one of the last big awards shows before Covid and it’s strange to think how different the world is now after the last year.
Lizzo and Harry Styles just having constant laughs and daft antics feels truly a million miles away.
Dave performs Black
After winning big for his album Psychodrama at the 2020 Brits, Dave took to the stage to perform Black. I’d argue the case for it being the best performance the awards show has ever seen.
Every second of it has something potent and poignant. The staging is so powerful – the visuals around the dual piano just amplify the lyrics and the passion behind everything he says just hits that much harder after the racial injustice in the year that followed the performance. It’s what the Brits is all about – amplifying the best talent in the country on the biggest stage possible and letting people have a platform to be political and hold figures in power accountable for racism and injustices through their art. Incredible stuff. Here’s hoping the Brits 2021 has more of the same.
Recommended stories by this writer: