Brits 2013

Dear Brit Awards,

We had great fun last night laughing at your never-ending glossy showbiz extravagnaza.

We watched the modern equivalent of the Royal Variety Show whilst clapping in our cheap seats and watching you rattle your jewellery feeling very remote from your version of pop culture- but that made us laugh even more and we thank you for that.

It’s not that we are right and you are wrong, pop music is a bit more complex than that. I’d hate to live in world dominated by my vast record collection but I do get a bit bored of your vision relentlessly impinging upon my life. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a mimed pop performance stamping on a human face – forever, as someone didn’t quite say!

During the evening many people were getting in touch with me panicking about the state of modern music but I think they were worrying pointlessly.

There was much teeth gnashing and panicking out from the music lovers out there matching the strange site of elderly media folk, the cultural picnickers, pretending to really like pop music made for 9 year olds which is fair enough, if a bit odd. We understand that everyone has to stay in work these days and work is hard to come by these days even if it means you have to pretend that Justin Timberlake’s rather tuneless song was like ‘great, man’ and that One Direction’s fairly aimless version of Blondie and the Undertones was ‘like, cool!”.

The cultural panickers on the internet were the people locked outside the media, the ones who only get to see the pinnacle of the pop culture iceberg as the Titanic of capitalism lurches blindly towards it. This is the part of the iceberg that sticks above the waterline and it is you the Brits and its attendant culture- you know the high streets of Britain where all the shops are the same, the endless chains of Muckdonalds, the superstar films full of special affects and wooden actors- showing their male and female tits and arses for the camera in the soft porn parade of contemporary culture- which is part of what its about.

Pop music is the same and that’s ok. It’s always been this way- we grew up with Opportunity Knocks and New Faces, Elvis had to sing to a dog on TV once and the Beatles were once a boy band but, dear Brits, please don’t think that this is what it’s all about. When you big up ‘new performers’ that have already had number one albums and pretend that you reflect the whole of popular culture we have to smile for you. We don’t hate pop, we love some pop and we know that all the great musics from Elvis to the Beatles to MIA to punk, from Kate Bush to Frank Ocean, from Girls Aloud to Rammstein to even the Fall are a pop music. Pop rules!

Neither the Brits nor their dissenters really get it. Music carries on in its wonderful creative way without the permission of the Brits and the award ceremony is a minor distraction. It’s a chance for the plump chickens to squeeze into their rented suits and dickie bows (the silliest item of clothe ever!) and clap the posh boys playing folk that pass for ‘cred’ bands and the performing fleas from the boy bands.

It’s not that each performer was rubbish on their own- just when all lumped together and surrounded by the chutzpah of exploding light shows and pompous world beating announcements it just seems super vacuous and meant to beat the viewer into a senseless state of serf like zombiefication. The spectacle of society!

It’s important to remember that the Brits is not all pop culture. In the seventies Top Of The Pops was everything, it was sat bang smack in the middle of pop culture with all the jagged edges of every style crammed into the show. It was not perfect but you could find punk rubbing shoulders with the balladeers. It’s demise meant that music on TV has become an occasional irritant, a background soundtrack for the soap operas or the grown ups hour of Jools Holland. The Brits is not a reflection of music culture, nothing is these days. Everything is far too fractured which should be celebrated!

The Brits is an ad mans dream, it’s music polished to death but it’s not the whole story, the panicking commentators who fear the death of pop because of its scrubbed up sheen have missed the point. Music is very much alive and kicking. There are more diverse styles of music than ever before and more musicians than ever out there in the real world. The Brits will never go near this, it-s Cowell-world, it’s not the pop world. It’s just one scene in an never expanding music universe crammed full of a myriad of scenes. It’s dark matter in the musical universe, a vast empty space of nothingness but also out there in that universe are loads of great things going on- whole crab nebulas of musical genius!

Brits, for most of us you are two hours to mess about on twitter taking the piss and arseing around. It’s not really a serious reflection of what’s going on and probably only a reflection of presenter James Corden’s minuscule music collection and that is the context that you should be enjoyed in.

Previous articleConor Oberst: Paris – live review
Next articleWorst album cover ever? check the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs sleeve
Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. None of what was on television last night was “culturally Important” like Jimi Hendrix or the Sexpistols.. It was the result of Years of Eltonjohnisation and sanitation on the Music Industry … It is a desert in which no flower can grow no Ugly or strange looking or old person is allowed to appear… it is like a apartheid for ideas, we thought thinks were bad in 1977 when we got involved with punk.. it in infinitely worse now….. that said I shall continue to play shows in Wigan Baltey Glasgow, Kiev, Berlin to people who do not watch the brits and do do get any music from the television … nice article John

  2. I have to say that on this very rare occasion I have to absolutely disagree with some points Mr Robb has made. Music is not in a good state at all, yes there a lot of variety to choose from, but the variety goes from commercially average to only your gran likes this rubbish. The internet has not paved the way for millions of talented musicians to get themselves heard, it has paved the way for millions of untalented fame junkies who are using bad music to drown out the voice of the really great music. The music industry is on a standing count and the greatest threat to it is the snobbish and naive perspective from within the industry that everything is great because there is more music out there. Ignore the fact that no-one listens or buys music any more, or that in failing to embrace digital the music fans have lost music to the IT companies – the biggest threat is the refusal to accept the reality of the situation and allowing to it to continue. The music industry just cannot sustain itself for much longer and as the major income boosters such as Adele become fewer and far between, there is no big income source to support the less profitable music we all love. Musicians need to be able to earn an income and tour and make albums, but none of things will be possible unless someone who cares leads the charge. It is great for music journalists who do nothing in their lives but listen to music and go to gigs for free, but for the rest of us we just don’t have the time or money to support the music we love and as a result they are very surely disappearing. Anyone who says they have heard more great music in the past five years than they did in the five before that is a liar. The Brits is a running joke to us music snobs and we like to think that we can rise above it and go and listen to our own little personal heaven of unpopular but great music – but personally I am left struggling to find anything.

  3. Great piece John.
    Captures brilliantly the helplessness of looking into the party last night from watching behind a wall of virtual security guards as everything we know and love is deconstructed right before our eyes into a kind of Prozac fuelled outer-shell of what it once was.

    We know Pop ISN’T about being po-faced and trainspotty, but the A&R depts and the perhaps even more influential Marketing Nosferatu’s hanging over their shoulder kind of poo poo the proles on this score, they say “we’re being too serious (sniff)”, “chill man, it’s only music (snort)” .
    This in turn can only explain why in the main they try to take revenge by luring our counter culture ‘heroes’ and their work into ironic situations.
    Iggy does the insurance ads, we want him to be able to pay the bills sure, but was Barry Manilow busy?…Rotten does the Butter, was Billy Ocean not answering his mobile?…
    It’s targeted with military precision by, if we can be slightly presumptuous for a second, people who know deep in their souls they’re not going to have it as good as we maybe did because they haven’t got the tools to play with (if only they knew eh?)

    SO 1D jizz over not just THE Teenage Punk anthem, but mash it into a bite size comedy routine via another iconic bands B-side AND give the finger to Peel in the process, talk about cover all bases.
    But what do we know? We’re ‘old’ and redundant, we certainly won’t buy it, or will we?…Good for the O’Neills as well isn’t it, Mmmm, may just buy the inevitable ‘Tones re-release to get a ‘louder’ version on my i-Tunes, and there’s those security guards again.

    We went to great pains on our Twitter timeline last night to point out to our meagre audience to not EVER equate the BRITs with:
    A) What really is going on out there if you look past the barrage of shit-headed media that we get fed daily from the people with the cash.
    B) Actual ‘Music’ as a concept.
    C) A competition of good Vs not so good.

    If the penny drops widely that the BRITs is simply a yearly backslap and trinket exchange to a bunch of elite artists that powerful agents and certain ‘educational’ academies have stuck under the nose of a few office boys and the whole running order is not determined by who is the most edgy/exciting/awesome talent around but by a simple spreadsheet printout to determine who’d literally shifted most ‘units’ and literally raked in the most cash…
    …maybe throw in the act someone committed most marketing spend to in the next financial year one night in a gak addled midnight phone call and there you have it…
    The BRITs.

    Maybe next year, they can just air aforementioned spreadsheet for an hour, quit the pantomime and save everybody’s pacemakers from overheating.
    Ultimately, why should we care that they don’t care?…we care, and are still banging away from the fringes to show we care, and that should be all that really matters. It’s a parallel universe we don’t want to be part of anyway, so Fuck ‘em, the light entertainment dinosaurs, we know what happens to dinosaurs right?

  4. Sad state of affairs when 2 guys from Coldplay winning Best British Live Band isn’t even in the top 3 dullest moments of the evening.

  5. […] an open letter to the Brit Awards – Louder Than War The closing comment Brits, for most of us you are two hours to mess about on twitter taking […]

  6. I’m pleased to say I didn’t watch any of it and avoided all reports in the news.Corperate Bullshit,I’m afraid .

  7. It’s like getting a look at a large corporation annual dinner where they all slap each other on the back and say how wonderful they’ve been doing. They have complete control of the market and pretend to be cool at their annual meet. And here’s the award to our top salesman Mr. X who managed to sell 1 million of our ttop range ikea download! The good stuffs out there, the corporates just make it harder to find.

  8. Did no one else think the award one direction won was invented just for them and Simon cowel cos the weren’t nominated for anything??

  9. Good article. No good complaining about the Brits. What do you expect? Pop music has always been mainly shit with the odd gem thrown in. There has never been a golden age of music where everything was brilliant. Ask most people about the 70s and they think of Abba and disco. That wasnt it for me! Think it was easy to see/hear punk bands? Esp outside London. You have always had to search for good stuff. Ignore tv and what gets thrown at you. I dont know, go and see live music in pubs. It might be a guy with a guitar or a young band but there are plenty of people out there writing their own songs with something to say. Give them a chance and ignore the dross.

  10. Isn’t it time Jarvis mooned it again? I know that was aimed at Michael Jackson but couldn’t he do it again next year, for nostalgia’s sake? This time aimed fairly and squarely at the unique awfulness of the modern-day Brits?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here