By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News
The Brit Awards have honoured the biggest and best stars in pop from the UK and beyond.
But on a night of out-of-control wardrobes, odd behaviour and dazzling performances, the awards were only half the story. So who were the real winners and losers?
BEST NOSTALGIA TRIP
Robbie Williams played hits including Angels, Let Me Entertain You and Feel
Robbie Williams received the lifetime achievement honour and his performance, a career-spanning medley of hits, was the highlight of the night for many inside Earls Court.
After the lukewarm reactions to his last two albums, it was a forceful reminder of just what a massive star he is, or was.
It is also the first time in a while that he has had the chance to remind us that his best anthems were huge, euphoric, communal and enduring pop landmarks.
The fact that we needed reminding was also a bit sad because it means it must have been so long since he has had one of those mega hits.
Robbie was nominated for best male too this year but was never likely to win.
The lifetime achievement is often bestowed on those whose best days are behind them. Will he be picking up more Brit awards in years to come?
BEST REUNION THAT DID NOT HAPPEN FOR A SECOND YEAR IN A ROW
Last year, everyone was wondering whether Robbie would make a surprise appearance with Take That. This year, everyone was wondering whether they would come on stage with him.
They did not. He did perform a Take That song - Everything Changes - on his own.
The reunion rumours have been rumbling on for so long that it really is getting tedious now. Please do something soon.
MOST EMBARRASSING OUTFIT
Jonathan Ross: Please stop
Jonathan Ross attempted to appear cool while simultaneously poking fun at himself by dressing in "bling" hip-hop gear and using street-smart phrases like "brrrap" and "blood".
He said his outfit had been "pimped" by Dizzee Rascal. Jonathan, you were the consenting victim of a cruel practical joke.
MOST OBVIOUS INTERVIEW ANSWER
Fearne Cotton to Lily Allen: "How will you be celebrating?"
Lily: "I... er I don't know. Drink, maybe?"
BEST OLD FASHIONED ROCK 'N' ROLL MOMENT
Liam Gallagher tossed his microphone into the crowd
Ex-Oasis singer Liam Gallagher swaggered on to accept the prize for the best Brit-winning album of the last 30 years, a special award created to celebrate the ceremony's anniversary.
He pointedly thanked all of his former bandmates except brother Noel, who was conspicuous by his absence. No reconciliation on the cards there.
Liam took the Britannia statuette and threw it, along with his microphone, into the front row. The producers managed to get the mic back but the award is probably on eBay already.
Many thought he was petulant, spiteful, arrogant... including host Peter Kay, who called him a name that probably should not have been broadcast on ITV1 before the watershed.
But he also reminded us that Britain has not produced a rock star so cocky, compelling and untameable since his Britpop heyday.
Kasabian, the heirs apparent, performed straight after his cameo but appeared timid by comparison.
If only Damon Albarn had been there to offer a fight, it would have been just like the old days.
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys put the British performers in the shade
British stars like Lily Allen, Cheryl Cole, JLS and Kasabian put on elaborate performances featuring mid-air stunts, flying rockets, blazing stages and troupes of dancers.
But the highlight of the night - Robbie aside - was the relatively simple duet between US superstars Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, who blew the place away with their song Empire State Of Mind.
Jay-Z was given a welcome befitting a cultural hero, and Keys oozed elegance and soul as her startlingly powerful voice stopped everyone in their tracks.
They narrowly eclipsed another duet, by UK stars Dizzee Rascal and Florence and the Machine. Their mash-up, titled You Got The Dirtee Love, could and should have been terrible. But they managed to make it work through sheer joy and verve.
LADY GAGA - A CATEGORY, NAY A PLANET, OF HER OWN
Lady Gaga's performance did not include any of her big hits
As well as picking up three awards, Lady Gaga also put on a typically eccentric performance.
In mourning for the designer Alexander McQueen, she reportedly changed her routine at the last minute from a medley of hits to a more sombre - but still outre - rendition of her lesser-known songs Telephone and Dance In The Dark.
With a towering white beehive and floral face mask, she began at a white piano before getting up to do a solo Vogue-esque dance routine while punching at a synth-guitar hybrid.
The crowd was left a bit dumbstruck but not many stars would have been able to get away with something so wilfully idiosyncratic.
"I think she's one of the best pop stars around," Geri Halliwell said afterwards. "But I would have liked it if she'd sung something I knew. Sorry."
BEST ONE-LINERS FROM HOST PETER KAY
Peter Kay was joined by presenters including Courtney Love
Peter Kay was less controversial than a Russell Brand, yet funnier than a Chris Evans.
In the end, he was a good choice as host. His tenure was marked by a series of withering one-liners when introducing the acts:
- "This lady is to fashion what Michael Jackson's doctor is to prescriptions. She's the only lady I know who gets her dresses at Ikea. It's New York's answer to Su Pollard." - Lady GaGa
- "A previous Brits winner who's sold more records than The Beatles... in Kenya." - Mika
- "My nanna's favourite, young Jason Zed." - Jay-Z
- "An all black male version of Bucks Fizz." - JLS
- "A British rock legend, he's just about to record the theme to the new James Bond film." - Noddy Holder
- "Here with a moving tribute to Michael Jackson, it's Leicester's answer to Aswad." - Kasabian
- "Stoke on Trent's answer to Shakin' Stevens." - Robbie Williams
BIGGEST MEMORY LAPSE IN AN ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Mel B, speaking after picking up the Spice Girls' award for best Brits moment of the last 30 years with Geri Halliwell: "We forgot to thank the other Spice Girls. Sorry! Thanks girls."