An emotional Adele led winners at the Brit music awards in London last night.
The singer, who has recovered from career-saving throat surgery, followed her six Grammy wins this month by capturing the top British music industry honors. Her “21” was chosen MasterCard British album of the year and she was also named best U.K. solo female artist, beating Jessie J, Kate Bush, Florence & the Machine, and last year’s winner Laura Marling.
“I’m so proud to be flying the British flag for all of you,” she started her second victory speech of the evening. As the live TV show ran out of time, she was then cut off by host, comedian James Corden. He was booed by the audience and Adele made a middle-finger gesture that she later told reporters was directed at “the suits” behind the ceremony, not her fans.
Ed Sheeran, 21, also picked up two awards, for best British solo male artist and best British breakthrough act. A Brit win may add as much as 5 million pounds ($7.9 million) to an album’s sales, a certain boon for record-company bosses at the O2 event.
“It’s been an amazing year,” Adele told the audience after her first win, saying she was shaking with emotion. “I’d like to thank my record company for letting me be the kind of artist I want to be.”
She sang “Rolling at the Deep” in what was only her second live performance since her operation in 2011. As Adele hit the high notes of the chorus, “we could have had it all,” there was a standing ovation from those listening.
Adele and Sheeran were beaten to the prize for best single, voted for in an online poll and often subject to huge campaigns by fans. It went to former X Factor boy-band One Direction for “What Makes You Beautiful.”
Bruno Mars was named international male solo artist, following his international-breakthrough nomination in 2011. Rihanna was picked best international female artist for a second year and Lana Del Rey was best international breakthrough artist.
Coldplay won the best British group for the third time. The band has sold more than 55 million records worldwide. Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters won the international band trophy.
The Brits are the British Phonographic Industry’s annual pop-music awards and presented in one form or another since 1977. They have been sponsored by Mastercard Inc. for the last 14 years. Winners also receive a Brit statuette designed by Peter Blake, the pop artist who created the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” sleeve for the Beatles.
Ethan Johns was named best British producer. Johns, whose father Glyn worked with the Eagles and Led Zeppelin, has recently produced tracks by Laura Marling, the Kings of Leon and Ryan Adams. He is about to be inducted into the Rock and Hall of Fame in April too.
The best-producer award was known in advance of the ceremony, as was the outstanding contribution to music prize for Blur -- the band will also be performing at the London Olympics closing concert this year. The Critics’ Choice went to Emeli Sande, a former medical student whose impressive debut album “Our Version of Events” released this month showcases her soulful voice and songwriting.
Kid Next Door
Sande, Sheeran and Adele’s music has won acclaim for putting kid-next-door emotional appeal above polished pop and crafted images.
Last year, Adele won a standing ovation at the Brits for her emotional performance of “Someone Like You,” which was accompanied only by a piano. That performance has been watched more than 90 million times on YouTube.
The event last night, opened by Coldplay and closed by Blur, was held at the O2 for a second year after the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre closed.
Brits caterers Payne & Gunter had a team of 60 chefs and 550 waiting staff, serving 5,200 pieces of crostini and 1,200 lamb best ends. Record-company executives delighted in jokes about which nominee would eat or drink the lot.
Woes about download piracy and CD sales seemed forgotten as the after-show parties started up.
List of BRIT Awards 2012 winners: British Female Solo Artist: Adele. (Also nominated: Florence & the Machine, Jessie J, Kate Bush, Laura Marling.) International Male Solo Artist: Bruno Mars. (Also nominated: Aloe Blacc, Bon Iver, David Guetta, Ryan Adams.) Critics’ Choice (announced in advance): Emeli Sande. (2nd - Maverick Sabre, 3rd - Michael Kiwanuka.) British Single (voted in online fan poll by Capital FM and iTunes): One Direction, “What Makes You Beautiful.” (Also nominated: Adele, “Someone Like You”; Ed Sheeran, “The A Team”; Example, “Changed the Way You Kissed Me”; Jessie J featuring B.o.B., “Price Tag”; JLS featuring Dev, “She Makes Me Wanna”; Military Wives/Gareth Malone, “Wherever You Are”; Olly Murs featuring Rizzle Kicks, “Heart Skips A Beat”; Pixie Lott, “All About Tonight”; the Wanted, “Glad You Came”.) International Female Solo Artist: Rihanna. (Also nominated: Beyonce, Bjork, Feist, Lady Gaga.) British Male Solo Artist: Ed Sheeran. (Also nominated: James Blake, James Morrison, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Professor Green.) British Group (voted by BBC Radio 2 listeners): Coldplay. (Also nominated: Arctic Monkeys, Chase & Status, Elbow, Kasabian.) International Group: Foo Fighters. (Also nominated: Fleet Foxes, Jay Z/ Kanye West, Lady Antebellum, Maroon 5.) British Breakthrough Act (supported by listeners of BBC Radio One): Ed Sheeran. (Also nominated: Anna Calvi, Emeli Sande, Jessie J, the Vaccines.) International Breakthrough Act: Lana Del Rey. (Also nominated: Aloe Blacc, Bon Iver, Foster the People, Nicki Minaj.) Outstanding Contribution to Music (awarded in advance): Blur. British Producer (awarded in advance): Ethan Johns (Also nominated: Paul Epworth, Flood.) MasterCard British Album of the Year: Adele, “21”. (Also nominated: Coldplay, “Mylo Xyloto”; Ed Sheeran, "+"; Florence & the Machine, “Ceremonials”; PJ Harvey, “Let England Shake.”)
All CDs are at prices from about $13 in the U.S. or 9 pounds in the U.K. Download rates vary across services.
(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)