The top 10 Brit Awards showdowns
Three decades of rivalries, confrontations and weird encounters at the nation's biggest music awards
2. 1996: Cocker v Jackson
One of the most famous moments in Brits history pitted the gangly Pulp frontman against Jacko, then in his ‘floating giant statues down the Thames’ decadent phase. Jackson was writhing about on a platform performing ‘Earth Song’ when Cocker took to the stage, bent over double and made wafting motions in the general area of his bum. For this act of treason against the King of Pop he was quickly ushered off, but not before he managed to flash the nearest camera with his skinny torso.
Jackson later stated that he was ‘sickened, saddened, shocked, upset, cheated and angry’. Cocker’s take: ‘I was just standing there watching it, feeling a bit ill because he was doing his Jesus act.’ Let’s just hope Jarvis never ends up at a Kanye West gig.
3. 1998: Chumbawumba v Prescott
4. 1986: Tebbitt v Wham!
Maybe Prescott would have learned a valuable lesson about politicians at the Brits if he’d rewatched the ’86 ceremony before buttoning up his dinner jacket. In one of the most unlikely pairings in pop history, Wham! were presented with their Outstanding Contribution award by none other than the Right Honourable Norman Tebbit, then Secretary of State for Employment.
‘I don’t know anything about pop music,’ Tebbit said in his presentation speech, ‘I don’t understand it.’ The stunned look on the minister’s face when he was confronted with George Michael’s mostly bare chest confirmed that – and the way he lurked in the background while Michael gave his acceptance speech made him look like a Tory Dracula about to feed on a particularly flamboyant Van Helsing.
5. 1989: Fox and Fleetwood v live television
6. 1992: The KLF v the music industry
Pre-taping didn’t stop anarchic avant-garde dance collective The KLF from making an impact at The Brit Awards 1992. They were chosen as Best British Group (bizarrely sharing the award with Simply Red), and opened the show by playing a version of their song ‘3am Eternal’ with the grindcore band Extreme Noise Terror. The song ended with the group’s Bill Drummond firing blanks from a machine gun into the audience, while their publicist Scott Piering announced, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, The KLF have now left the music business.’ Later in the evening, the band finished strong by sending a motorcycle courier to collect their award and then dumping a dead sheep outside the show’s after party.Photo: John Marshall JME
7. 2000: Block v Wood
Have you ever been so wasted that you were convinced you’d won a Brit Award for Best Soundtrack Album? London-born DJ Brandon Block has. During the ceremony in 2000, Block’s friends told him he’d won and that he should go onto the stage to collect his award. He staggered up, holding a pair of chopsticks, and ended up in a swearing match with award presenter Ronnie Wood. In hindsight, Block actually doesn’t come out of the encounter as badly as the leather-trousered, leather-faced Wood, who spent most of his time on stage doing his best ‘creepy uncle’ act with his young co-presenter Thora Birch.Photo: John Marshall JME
8. 1995: The artist formerly known as Prince v Warner Bros
When Blur won the Best British Group award later that evening, drummer Dave Rowntree played copycat and appeared on stage with ‘DAVE’ written on his cheek. When he was asked about it the next day, Rowntree commented, ‘We have a lot in common. EMI won’t release my solo album either.’
9. 2000: The Spice Girls v Halliwell
The Spice Girls are enshrined in Brit Awards history thanks to the minuscule Union Jack dress that Ginger Spice wore to perform with the group in 1997. Three years later, though, Ginger (now calling herself ‘Geri Halliwell’) was a Spice Girl no longer – she’d launched a solo career, and had been booked to play live at the Brits, where the Spice Girls were due to pick up an Outstanding Contribution trophy.
The four remaining Spices accepted the award without Halliwell, who instead decided to totally upstage them by performing her new single ‘Bag It Up’ while pole dancing on top of a giant Union Jack-patterned vagina and a pile of greasy men in bucket hats. It took another seven years before Sporty, Baby, Posh and Scary could bring themselves to sing with her again.Photo: John Marshall JME
10. 2008: Arctic Monkeys v sobriety
The Arctics’ second album ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ was picked as the Brits’ Album of the Year in 2008: the second time in as many albums that the band had won the prize. Dressed bizarrely in tweed and clutching their drinks, the fresh-faced Arctics walked onto the stage and launched into an incoherent ‘thank you’ speech, mixed with a surreal rant about the Brit School.
Nowadays the Monkeys are one of the world’s most dapper bands, all slicked-back hair, leather and perfectly cut shirts. As of 2016 they’ve won seven Brits: more than Oasis or Michael Jackson. But we’ll always have a special place in our hearts for the wasted, tweed-clad scamps they were on that special evening back in ’08.Photo: John Marshall JME