10 of the unlikeliest BRIT Awards winners
18 February 2020, 11:47 | Updated: 11 May 2021, 12:15
In 40 years, the BRIT Awards has celebrated the biggest stars in music - here are some of the winners that aren't as memorable...
The four decade history of the BRIT Awards is studded with superstars, legends and icons. Some of the decisions haven't aged has well. Radio X takes a look at some of the more baffling winners in BRIT history.
Best British Newcomer 1999 - Belle And Sebastian
In an early example of a "social media" hijack, fans of winsome Scottish indie pop hit the Radio One-sponsored Best Newcomers vote. The universe was confused when B&S went and won it, beating the likes of 5ive, Another Level, Billie, Cleopatra (comin' at ya) and Steps. People cried "fix!”, but the gong was picked up by Mick Cooke and Richard Colbourn of the band and the rest of the world went about their business. Dunno who the host is on this clip.
Best British Album and Best British Group 1994 - Stereo MCs
Yeah yeah yeah. Yeah yeah yeah. Not the Beatles, but Clapham’s Stereo MCs, who bagged the best album AND best group trophies in that fallow year of ’94. Nominated in the album category were Dina Carroll, Jamiroquai, Sting and Suede. They were the biggest thing in the country for about a minute, then they ended up on a TV ad for a phone company.
Best British Newcomer 1991 - Betty Boo
Don’t get us wrong, we love Betty aka Alison Clarkson and her track Doin’ The Do, but also in the category this year were Happy Mondays and The Charlatans, alongside Norman Cook’s project Beats International. To be fair, Clarkson has had a decent career as a songwriter since.
Best British Group 1987 - Five Star
British groups releasing albums in 1987: The Smiths, The Cure, The Cult, Echo And The Bunnymen, Def Leppard, The Housemartins, Pet Shop Boys, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Public Image Ltd, Pink Floyd and even a career-spanning collection from New Order. And who was regarded the best group of the year? This lot. Romford's answer to The Jacksons.
Best International Newcomer 1992 - PM Dawn
Set Adrift On Memory Bliss was a hip-hop classic in ’91 with its sample of True by Spandau Ballet, but this year was a tough category, as the winners were up against the smooooooooooooth sounds of Color Me Badd, crooner Chris Isaak, the underrated Jellyfish, long-haired rockers Extreme and another crooner, Harry Connick Jr. To be honest, though, 1991 wasn’t a great year new bands overseas. Except for Nirvana. And maybe Pearl Jam. Oh, and Smashing Pumpkins.
Best British Album and Single 1988 - Fairground Attraction
What the blazes was going on here? This British band made Number 1 with the catchy single Perfect, but was the album that good? And that wasn’t the end of it - lead singer Eddie Reader won Best Female in 1995 against the likes of Kate Bush and Michelle Gayle (off of EastEnders). Whassat all about?
Best British Group 1977 - The Beatles
They may have been split up for the best part of a decade, but The Fab Four managed to walk home with one of the very first BRIT Awards. Confused?
Back when it was known as the “British Record Industry Britannia Awards”, the first ever ceremony was designed to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, marking Liz’s 25 years on the throne. The list was intended to mark the previous quarter century of music, so it was only proper to salute the greatest band in history. We don’t have a clip of that, so here’s Queen winning best single. It was a bit more formal, then.
Best Comedy Record 1985 - Neil
They should bring this category back - if people still released comedy records. The hippy hero of TV’s The Young Ones made a record and it did quite well, being a cover of a 1967 psychedelic hit by Traffic. We're gutted that Nigel Planer didn’t turn up in character, but he did do the voice: "Dear British record industry. You are all wonkers."
Best British Newcomer 1982 - The Human League
Phil Oakey and co would have been surprised to be classed as “newcomers” - the band had formed as The Future in 1977 and their first single, Being Boiled, was released in ’78. But 1981 saw the release of the huge-selling album Dare that spawned the mammoth hit Don’t You Want Me, so they were honoured at the following year’s bash. It only took five years!
Best British Female 1999 - Des’ree
David Brent: “Money don’t make my world go round, I’m reaching out to a higher ground…” New employee: “Is that a philosopher?” Brent (shakes head): “Des’ree”.
The boss of The Office wasn’t the only fan of the South London soul singer as she triumphed in 1999 after the release of her song Life, but subsquent albums didn't do as well. The Best British Female category that year also featured Billie Piper, Billie Myers, Hinda Hicks and PJ Harvey, who went home empty-handed.