Tonight's BRIT Awards show on ITV has just finished. And Jesus Christ am I glad.
Now I only caught the last 45 minutes, so please forgive me if I have misunderstood. The first 75 minutes could have been a musical triumph. It's just that the section of the show that I had the misfortune to see was anything but.
Imagine waking up from an unscheduled forty winks to find yourself being introduced to possibly the most ill-conceived collaboration since Noel Edmonds met Mr Blobby. That was what lay in store from me when an incrediby badly dressed and quite sinister looking bloke introduced me to The Ting-Tings and Estelle.
'Shut up and let me go' wailed the singer of the talent-defficient former, while the latter marched on stage determined to take the performance on a different course. Yet all attempts to rescue it from ruin were scotched when Estelle gave us 'American Boy'. Frankly these two tracks (such as they are) fitted together like milk-shake and orange juice. The inevitably curdled result was as stomach-churning as it gets.
Eventually the pair arrived at the same page with a well-intentioned but catastrophic version of 'That's Not My Name'. Quite apart from this song's pointless monotony, the clash of styles reminded me of Coventry City's Chocolate Brown away kit from the 1970's which I believe featured yellow markings. We're all starting to feel a bit queasy by now.
Before we wretch it is back to the sinister man (who it turns out stars in the much-loved but utterly abject Gavin and Stacey) alongside Kylie. Now Kylie might be Australian but she qualifies as a national treasure. Yet here she was being made to body-pop, as by now the sinister bloke's fat and equally rubbish mate had joined them on stage. At this point there were calls from my sofa of a return to the days of Fleetwood Mac and Samantha Fox. Anything but the direction we were seemingly heading.
Think it can't get any worse? Guess again, as on comes Gok Wan to present an award (I neither know nor care what it was). Without wishing to be homophobic, Wan should almost certainly be shot. What is more, he should be shot while being made to wear clothes that he does not like. I long for the day when television executives realise that the ability to sneer at how other people look is simply not enough to secure a top presenting gig. Nor is being as camp as is humanly possible without actually bending over The Ting-Tings drum-kit. 'Who looks good naked?" he enquired of us. Not fucking you, you talentless boil on the arse of British culture.
It wasn't long before Wan was joined by that other uber-gay moron Alan Carr. In his defence, and for all his annoyances, Carr does at least possess the endearing ability to say something witty now and again. That said, a highlight of the whole sorry affair came when he remarked that he might wet himself in anticipation of the upcoming performance by The Pet Shop Boys. More of whom later. Had Carr actually made good on his leaky bladder suggestion it might well have been worth sitting through what was to come.
And I'm talking about YOU, Girls Aloud. Inexplicably, these five tedious women picked up the gong for Single Of The Year for 'The Promise'. All of which gave yet more unwarranted air-time to Cheryl Cole, whose march towards blanket coverage on all UK networks gathers yet more pace. Quite what the nation's obsession with this pointless individual is will I suspect remain beyond me until they dig me a hole to rest in. Perhaps people feel sorry for her because Gobshite Ashley did the dirty on her. Maybe they like that she now enjoys the noble duty of promoting the next generation of pop-stars on X Factor. It simply can't be the singing, all of which is deathly dull and mostly done by her mates in any case. And don't get me started on the equally tiresome Sarah Harding.
The Pet Shop Boys were there to pick up the award for lifetime achievement, and as is tradition to close the show with a set of their best music. We all saw that coming. What was less obvious was the reason why Chris Lowe (the one who never speaks, moves, sings or dances) played out the entire performance in a pink wig. It put me in mind of a Coronation Street character from my youth named Phyllis Pearce. Phyllis had a voice which sounded like it was being impaired by a throat-full of sand and mud, aswell as a bizarre but touching devotion to local busy-body and all round pain in the Harding Percy Sugden.
I can't see Lowe having the foresight to pay comic tribute to a soap star of yore, so there must have been more to it. Pink is a colour often associated with cancer charities, and particularly those which affect women. I can only hope that this was some sort of show of solidarity or effort to raise awareness to the cause. If so it is highly commendable and I am willing to forgive him and Neil Tennant for playing a large video of themselves in the background to their entire performance. Were they singing live or not, then? Who knows, but if Tennant can't talk about knocking down chairs in a restaurant without the aid of a pre-recorded soundtrack then perhaps he might like to think about returning his award.
Cole (sorry, we're back on her momentarily) told us that her earlier award had been the 'cherry on the cake'. She was wrong. The aforementioned fruit on the gateaux was the appearance of Killers front-man Brandon Flowers alongside the PSB's. PSB's? Makes them sound a little too much like a bank though it would surprise nobody if either Tennant or Lowe decided to take their careers in that direction. In any event, Flowers' contribution to the set was infinitely more successful than Estelle's earlier Ting-Tings Thing Thing, or at least it would have been had both Tennant and Lowe not looked faintly embarrassed throughout. Joining in was a scantily-clad blonde woman who I am sure I am supposed to recognise but don't, and whose aim was to produce a reasonable stab at the Dusty Springfield role in 'What Have I Done To Deserve This?'.
Which, aptly enough, was exactly what I was asking myself as the credits rolled.
By Stephen Orford
18 February 2009