Brit Awards honours David Bowie

Members of British girl group Little Mix (above, from left) Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock took home the award for British Single.
Members of British girl group Little Mix (above, from left) Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock took home the award for British Single.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Katy Perry (centre) performing amid dancing houses and two giant skeletons.
Katy Perry (centre) performing amid dancing houses and two giant skeletons.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Duncan Jones accepting the award for British Album Of The Year on behalf of his father, David Bowie.
Duncan Jones accepting the award for British Album Of The Year on behalf of his father, David Bowie.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • With Adele and Beyonce relegated to smaller roles, David Bowie's final album Blackstar took home the highest honour at this year's Brit Awards on Wednesday for British Album Of The Year.

Film-maker Duncan Jones, the late musician's son, accepted the trophy and dedicated it to "all the kooks and all the people who make the kooks".

Bowie, he said, had "always been there supporting people who think they're a little bit weird".

Adele's most recent album, 25, which swept the Grammys this month, last year won the British Album Of The Year, while Beyonce, the most nominated artist at this year's Grammys, was up for only International Female Solo Artist on this night. (She won, but did not attend the ceremony or provide a video message accepting the honour like her international male counterpart, Drake.)

The absence of such pop titans allowed the Brits, Britain's top pop music prize, to focus on smaller, more localised acts, such as pop group Little Mix (which won British Single for Shout Out To My Ex, which they also performed) and singer Rag'n'Bone Man (who took home the British Breakthrough Act award).

Scottish singer Emeli Sande won best British Female Solo Artist, while electro-pop stars The 1975 won British Group, beating Radiohead, who have oddly never won a Brit Award.

"People in pop are told to stay in their lane when it comes to social issues," Matt Healy, The 1975's singer, said in his acceptance speech. "But if you have a platform, don't do that."

The show, streamed live on YouTube, leant heavier on big names for its performances. Katy Perry reprised her new single, Chained To The Rhythm, for a performance that was less outwardly political than her version at the Grammys, although some viewers interpreted the two besuited dancing skeletons on stage as representations of United States President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Bruno Mars echoed his own Grammys performance of That's What I Like. Ed Sheeran, another recent Grammys performer, added a decidedly British twist to his single, Shape Of You, when he welcomed grime rapper Stormzy to the stage to add a surprise verse.

Skepta, another grime star who won Britain's 2016 Mercury Prize for his album Konnichiwa, also performed.

Chris Martin of Coldplay did double duty onstage, first anchoring an emotional tribute to George Michael that featured a teary introduction from Michael's Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley and pop duo Pepsi & Shirlie.

After singing Michael's A Different Corner, Martin then returned with his band and DJ duo The Chainsmokers, debuting their collaborative new single, Something Just Like This.

But the night belonged to Bowie, in absentia. In addition to the album prize, he won best British Male Solo Artist, which was accepted by actor Michael C. Hall, who starred in the Bowie musical Lazarus.

"If David could be here tonight, he probably wouldn't be here tonight," Hall joked, calling Bowie "a man beholden to nothing but his own boundless imagination".

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Brit Awards honours David Bowie'. Print Edition | Subscribe