Emeli Sande and Mumford & Sons led winners at the Brit music awards in London last night.
Sande won both the best British album prize and best British female title, while folk-rock band Mumford followed its recent Grammy success by being named top British group. U.S. duo the Black Keys also built on Grammy triumphs by being picked as best international group.
“I’m a very unlikely pop star,” former medical student Sande, 25, told the audience after winning the biggest prize for her CD “Our Version of Events.” “This is an album I wrote because I didn’t have the confidence to go and say these things in person. There are so many personal connections to this album. It doesn’t make me feel as lonely.”
An award may add as much as 5 million pounds ($7.6 million) to an artist’s sales, a certain boon for record-company bosses at the O2 event. Winners also receive a Brit statuette, this year designed by Damien Hirst and covered in the artist’s trademark spots.
Sande’s album bested rapper Plan B and pop-soul singer Paloma Faith, as well as “An Awesome Wave” by Alt-J, winner of the Mercury Prize, and “Babel” by Mumford & Sons, which captured the best-album Grammy earlier this month.
In the year since Sande won the Critics’ Choice Brit award, she has sung at the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics, got married, and toured in support of the U.K.’s best- selling CD of 2012. The singer told reporters that she now plans a short break.
Adele took the best single prize for her James Bond theme “Skyfall.” She sent a video message of thanks from Los Angeles, where she is rehearsing for the Oscars on Sunday. In a reference to last year’s Brits ceremony -- where the television broadcast ran out of time and she was cut off abruptly after just a few sentences -- the singer said she would be brief to give enough time for others to speak.
Coldplay was named best British live act, beating the Rolling Stones, the veteran group first nominated for a Brit award 35 years ago.
Frank Ocean, whose acclaimed debut album followed a series of mixtapes, was best international male solo artist. He told reporters that it was “a long way from working fast food” in New Orleans.
Lana Del Rey was best international female solo artist, following her international breakthrough prize victory at the Brits last year.
Many of the Brit awards are chosen by a panel of more than 1,000 record industry figures, musicians and critics. A few are decided by public vote, such as the British breakthrough act Brit. Ed Sheeran won that poll of BBC radio listeners last year and this time it was the turn of another acoustic troubadour, Ben Howard, who bested the folk-influenced singer Jack Bugg.
Record executives have been putting on a brave face as industry sources worry about illegal downloads and the failure of record retailers. HMV Group Plc, Britain’s biggest seller of CDs and DVDs, is in administration and announced the closure of more stores yesterday.
The Brits show, hosted by comedian James Corden for a third year, was opened by rock trio Muse, backed by a 60-piece orchestra and a pyrotechnic show with lasers.
Sande, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake and Robbie Williams also gave live performances. Boy band One Direction sang the new Comic Relief charity song, a medley of “One Way or Another” and “Teenage Kicks.”
List of winners: British female solo artist: Emeli Sande (Also nominated: Amy Winehouse (posthumous), Paloma Faith, Bat for Lashes, Jessie Ware.) British group: Mumford and Sons (Also nominated: Alt-J, The xx, Muse, One Direction.) British breakthrough act (voted by BBC Radio 1 listeners): Ben Howard (Also nominated: Jake Bugg, Jessie Ware, Alt-J, Rita Ora.) British male solo artist: Ben Howard (Also nominated: Calvin Harris, Plan B, Richard Hawley, Olly Murs.) Critics’ choice: Tom Odell (Also nominated: Aluna George, Laura Mvula.) International female solo artist: Lana Del Rey (Also nominated: Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Cat Power, Taylor Swift.) British live act: Coldplay (Also nominated: Mumford and Sons, Muse, Vaccines, Rolling Stones.) British single (voted by Capital FM and iTunes listeners): Adele, “Skyfall” (Also nominated: Alex Clare, “Too Close”; Coldplay featuring Rihanna, “Princess of China”; DJ Fresh featuring Rita Ora, “Hot Right Now”; Emeli Sande, “Next to Me,” Florence + the Machine, “Spectrum (Say My Name)”; James Arthur, “Impossible”; Jessie J, “Domino”; Labrinth featuring Emeli Sande, “Beneath Your Beautiful”; Olly Murs featuring Flo Rida, “Troublemaker”; Rita Ora featuring Tinie Tempah, “RIP”; Rizzle Kicks, “Mama Do The Hump”; Robbie Williams, “Candy”; Rudimental featuring John Newman, “Feel the Love”; Stooshe, “Black Heart.”) International group: Black Keys (Also nominated: the Script, Alabama Shakes, Fun, Killers.) International male solo artist: Frank Ocean (Also nominated: Jack White, Gotye, Michael Buble, Bruce Springsteen.) Special recognition award: War Child British album of the year: Emeli Sande, “Our Version of Events” (Also nominated: Plan B, “Ill Manors”; Alt-J, “An Awesome Wave”; Paloma Faith, “Fall to Grace”; Mumford and Sons, “Babel.”) British producer: Paul Epworth. (Also nominated: Damon Albarn, Jake Gosling.) Brits Global Success: One Direction. (Also nominated: Mumford & Sons, Adele.)
(Mark Beech writes for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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