Since 1977, the Brit Awards have been the biggest event in the British music calendar. It’s seen the debut of Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress, plenty of swearing on live TV, and spikey acceptance speeches, making it a magnet for controversy.
There are a lot to choose from, but these are just a sample of the most shocking Brit Awards moments in its 40-year history.
1. Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood’s disastrous hosting (1989)
What do you get when you cross a Page Three girl with a member of Fleetwood Mac? The most disastrous Brits hosts of all time.
Fox and Fleetwood messed up the introductions, announced the wrong winners, couldn’t read the autocue, and seemed to have met only once before. Their lack of coordination actually generated more interest in the Brits, and is reportedly why it wasn’t shown live again until 2007.
2. The KLF spectacularly announce their retirement (1992)
When The KLF were invited to perform in the early 90s, they made it their mission to cause chaos. Their original plan was to throw buckets of blood into the audience, but they switched to firing blank rounds instead. The Daily Telegraph called it a “violently antagonistic performance”.
The band announced they were leaving the music industry, and even buried their Best British Group trophy near Stonehenge.
3. Madonna’s cape drama (2015)
There was understandably a huge amount of buzz around the prospect of a Madonna performance, but that turned to horror when she suffered a very painful-looking wardrobe malfunction.
One of her dancers dramatically pulled her cape off, but it was tied too tightly, and he pulled the pop icon down some steps by her neck instead. She got up and carried on, obviously, but the gasps were audible.
The 2019 Brits are imminent, and viewers are just as transfixed by the ceremony (and everything that can go wrong) as ever. Even before the Awards begin, viewers are finding out details, and bizarre facts, about the performers and nominees.
Data experts at digital record label Ostereo have analysed Google search data and crunched the numbers to reveal what US music fans are asking about this year’s Brit Award nominees.
24% of questions searched about UK artists related to their culture, background and nationality – “Is Dua Lipa a Muslim?” was the third most commonly asked question.
American music fans were also highly curious about the relationship status and diet of this year’s crop of talent – “Is Paloma Faith married” and “Is Lily Allen vegan?”
Some of the strangest questions touched on who nominees were related to, their Snapchat username, and whether they’re dead or not!
Howard Murphy, founder of Ostereo, thinks the globalisation of music means bands and artists don’t have to ‘break’ America anymore. “The traditional promotion cycle for new acts is obsolete, meaning audiences can consume an artist’s entire catalogue without ever seeing a photograph of them or reading an interview. Gone are the days of a Brit Award nominee being unheard of in America. Audiences around the world can be immediately exposed to the best UK acts, so it’s not a surprise that they’re curious to find out more about them.”
4. Jarvis Cocker moons Michael Jackson (1996)
Michael Jackson did a typically high drama performance of Earth Song at the 1996 Brit Awards, showing himself as a Christ-like figure. The Pulp frontman apparently didn’t like it, so protested by invading the stage and baring his bum.
There were children onstage, so it was taken seriously enough to get him banged up for the night on suspicion of assault. If Google had existed in 1996, “Is Jarvis Cocker in jail?” would have been a pretty common search term…
5. Brandon Block picks a fight with Ronnie Wood (2000)
When DJ Brandon Block pulled a Derek Zoolander and walked on stage at the wrong moment, he decided to take it out on Ronnie Wood, who was in the middle of presenting Best Soundtrack Album.
Block squared up to him, it got heated, and Wood threw a drink. Being Rolling Stones royalty probably meant Wood was given the benefit of the doubt. Block was thrown out by the bouncers.
6. Kanye West is censored (2015)
After hyping up his new song All Day for two years, and being announced as a surprise guest, Kanye West fans were understandably keen to see him at the Brits. The lyrics turned out to be so explicit (even by post-9pm standards), that ITV censored massive chunks of it, keeping the cameras rolling, but cutting the sound whenever Kanye turned the air blue.
Every 10-20 seconds, viewers would be treated to watching Kanye West and a flamethrower in complete silence…
7. Chumbawamba throw ice water over John Prescott (1998)
Why was the deputy Prime Minister at the Brits? Good question. In an attempt to seem cool and engaged with pop culture, John Prescott went to drink champagne with music industry execs.
The apparently very political lead singer of Chumbawamba, Danbert Nobacon, protested this spectacularly by throwing a bucket of ice water over Prescott. The deputy PM, who was also egged 3 years later, was furious but didn’t have chance to throw any punches.
Excited for the 2019 Brits? Keep your eyes peeled for even more shocking and controversial moments at this year’s ceremony!
8. Honorable mention – Foo Fighters perform on the roof of a house (2018)
‘Bangin’ on the ceiling, Bangin’ on the ceiling’ goes the chorus to the Foo Fighters song ‘The Sky Is A Neighborhood’. It was a tenuous link at best, but the band hammered the point home literally by performing the song on the roof of a specially constructed house on stage. The performance was certainly memorable and it’s not the first time a band has made waves for performing on a roof. But we should urge a note of caution here too. According to research by roof maintenance specialists Aspect, one of the most asked questions about home maintenance is whether a roof is strong enough to walk on. Their expert advice? “It’s never worth trying to find out. Only trained professionals with the right safety gear and technical knowledge should attempt this.”