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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 February, 2003, 17:02 GMT
Brit Awards: You asked an expert
Ms Dynamite
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  • Click here to read the transcript

    The Brit Awards were dominated this year by Ms Dynamite, Coldplay and anti-war sentiment.

    Both acts scooped two awards each and used the stage to voice their opposition to any war on Iraq at the British music industry's biggest night of the year.

    Ms Dynamite performed a specially rewritten version of George Michael's song Faith which featured the line: "I don't want no blood on my hands."

    Coldplay singer Chris Martin said: "Awards are basically a nonsense and we're all going to die if George Bush has his way."

    The remainder of the evening belonged to the rest of the gong winners including Eminem, Robbie Williams and Liberty X.

    What did you think of the winners? Did the political statements add to the ceremony's tradition of springing a surprise? Or should it just be all about the music?

    Pop pundit Rick Sky answered your questions in a LIVE interactive forum.


  • Transcript:

    Newshost:
    Hello and welcome to this BBC News Online interactive forum. The annual Brit Awards, celebrating the achievements of the pop industry, has taken place in London. There were no champagne buckets and no pop stars behaving badly. But a fizz was added when big winners - Ms Dynamite and Coldplay - used the prestigious ceremony to make a stand for peace. Were they right? Well joining me to answer that question and many others that you've sent in is pop pundit Rick Sky, who like me was at the event. Rick welcome. Let's go straight to some of the questions that have come in. Jan Paynter from the UK has said that the Brit Awards aren't really the place to talk politics - do you think she's right?

    Rick Sky:
    No I don't think so. I mean I think that protest should be part of pop music really or certainly pop music should be about everyday life, not just about romance but about the things that concern and worry us in everyday life. And I think a pop song is a valid forum in which to talk about anything - whether it's making love to not making war. And in fact I mean I think the Brits got off very, very, very lightly, if this had been say perhaps in the '60s, where the world was full of protest songs and the world was concerned about other issues than just are you wearing the right Gucci clothes, led by people like Bob Dylan and the Beatles, all these kind of things, then there was a lot of political agenda in the air. And I think that the references yesterday were rather couched and rather secretive.

    Newshost:
    That's very interesting because we've another comment from T. Potter in England saying that he doesn't quite see why we're expected to regard the moral views of pop stars as somehow more relevant, more interesting than anybody else's.

    Rick Sky:
    No they're not more relevant or more interesting. The only thing about pop stars is that they're in the headlines really. And I mean yes that is an argument - the fact that sometimes pop stars really don't know very much about the proposed war in Iraq and they don't understand why it's happening or how to stop it or what to do. So therefore sometimes their views are rather infantile and that was my feeling really about - I mean Ms Dynamite, lovely though she is, is not a great expert on world affairs and I think you do - I really wanted someone with a bit more substance - maybe a Billy Bragg - unfortunately he's not that popular but someone who could actually elucidate and amplify those viewpoints about peace.

    Newshost:
    It's a bit sort of the usual suspect really, isn't it more surprising that somebody like Ms Dynamite should come out with something?

    Rick Sky:
    Perhaps to some extent, although she's kind of - she's been involved in making the world a better place ever since she got a Mercury Award. So in many ways she's sort of the usual suspect as well but she's a newer usual suspect. Pop stars, by their very nature, and young people by their very nature, are going to be anti-war anyway and that's why there wasn't that much anti-war bias there yesterday.

    Newshost:
    But it is interesting that most of the people who've commented are actually - they find it quite distasteful that pop stars somehow feel that they have something to say. There are some people who have said that actually they haven't got the expertise, there are people who think that in fact we should be relying much more on security officials and governments who know, dedicated their lives to this and it's absurd for pop stars to even come into the fray.

    Rick Sky:
    But that's going completely the other way, that's assuming that pop stars are total ignoramuses. Maybe some are and well I know that some I've met are. But there are others who can speak for perhaps the common man or maybe the uncommon man or woman, who have got a viewpoint. And because these are creative people they put it forward in their songs. I just don't think today's generation really are able to deal with these kind of - the heavy subjects in the way that perhaps the generations from the '60s were.

    Newshost:
    Do you think part of the reason why people have latched on to the fact that the politics this year has been more interesting is because of as Adam Lapish from the UK says the Brits don't really - can't claim any credibility as a music event because if you've got the likes of Gareth Gates and Will Young in the best singles category well actually there's not a great deal of credibility in terms of artistic creativity there?

    Rick Sky:
    Yes I mean there's a problem with the Brits. I mean I've been to every Brit I think since it started. The problem with it really is that it's a ragbag for all men and all people isn't it and by doing so it dilutes itself really, it wants to be an entertainment show, it wants to be for families, it wants to be a good TV show, it wants to be for young kids, it wants to be perhaps for older people. It's a bit of a mixture and therefore sometimes it doesn't come across as perhaps as well as it could do.

    Newshost:
    Well here's an interesting one from Raja in the UK saying: "Why does the Brits have an international category at all when it seems only to cover artists in the US and Canada?" And he says that the biggest selling artist in the world didn't come from America, UK or Canada but from India - A.R. Rahman - who of course, as we know, wrote the music for Bombay Dreams, which is doing very well. Do you think it is just so - it's kind of completely - well it's always white really isn't it?

    Rick Sky:
    It is, yeah, it is very white. I mean it was noticeable yesterday I thought that they introduced the urban award for the first time. And what was amazing about that was the other categories they were struggling to get people in the nominations. I mean, for example, best British female - Alison Moyet - when did she - when was she last ...

    Newshost:
    She's had a bit of a comeback.

    Rick Sky:
    Maybe okay, alright, you're a fan okay. I'll leave her alone. But in the urban one, whereas the other categories were four or five nominations, the urban one, I think, had 10 categories. So it just shows that this is a vibrant and a very powerful force and I think maybe that what they should have had is a world music category as well.

    Newshost:
    Well maybe they will because they are in a way adapting aren't they?

    Rick Sky:
    I'm sure they're watching now and they're taking notes and next year there'll be a world category.

    Newshost:
    Well there were a couple of comments in particular about the predictability of the Brits. Jessie Lloyd in London talks about Robbie Williams - how his sarcasm and the fact that he didn't even seem to appreciate the fact that for him it was his 14th Brit and he just seemed completely egocentric and does anyone - do the stars even take the awards seriously, given that - I mean he says here Liberty X will be going on and on and on about their award for probably the rest of the year and be really euphoric and enthusiastic?

    Rick Sky:
    Well that's a very good comment actually, a quite astute point that is because if you look at the difference, when Liberty X got their award they went absolutely wild, didn't they, they were full of ecstasy but it's because they're never going to get another award in their life. With Robbie Williams he's going to go on and on and get awards and I think he's a bit tired of getting these awards in some way. And it does show - I mean the fact that he's winning so comfortably - he's a great performer, Robbie, and he's a good artist, I wouldn't want to take that away from him but he's got no competition really, I don't think, that's why he's winning and that's why he can be sarcastic.

    Newshost:
    Let's have a look at a live e-mail now from Lorna in London saying: "Year on year we have musicians jumping on political bandwagons why? This is not why we buy their records," that's interesting, haven't had that point before, "perhaps they should concern themselves more with ensuring that the next Brit Award ceremony is actually worth watching, bring back the alcohol - at least it makes them more interesting." Maybe there's more - there's a more serious point in that there that what did make it interesting in the past was the fact that you had real personalities coming out, whereas I mean you could argue is it just alcohol that brings out the bad behaviour and the personalities in these pop stars? But actually it just felt like a bigger theatrical event than it did last night.

    Rick Sky:
    I mean it could have really been just a meeting of accountants, couldn't it really, with a bit of music. And it's sad because I know what the Brits wanted to do and I do think it is a good show. Logistically it's a very, very hard thing to produce and they're interested in producing good television but it does surprise me that because they want to produce good television they think that good television means everything running smoothly. Really what they wanted to do was to have someone to jump on stage - to make some kind of scene - that's what you really want. And that's talked about. If the only thing that was in the headline of today's papers - and okay these are the tabloids - was the fact that Justin Timberlake groped Kylie Minogue's buttocks, if that is the greatest thing that came from the Brits then that's quite a sad indictment.

    Newshost:
    It is and here's a comment from Eva in Nigeria, taking it slightly further afield, saying she thinks it's nice to see people around the world voicing their opposition to war, that it's commendable, I mean it's one of the few people who actually endorsed the fact that the platform was being taken advantage of. I think it's a really tricky thing because as you were saying earlier pop stars innately are likely to be more rebellious, the whole notion of rock and going down that route as a career suggests that you're going to be anti-establishment anyway. And yet you have this dichotomy where you've got manufactured television stars, such as Will Young and Gareth Gates and all those extra ones as well who didn't make it but are still making it in the real music world, who are kind of anodyne and don't really see themselves as rebels - they've kind of gone into it because they want to be famous because they can make money. And it does make it quite difficult because there is this tradition, as you were talking earlier about the '60s where there is a kind of noble tradition almost of being rebellious and standing up for what you believe in.

    Rick Sky:
    I mean you could see that - it was made very clear yesterday I think that obviously there's some people who have gone into rock music or pop music because they love music and perhaps they've even got something to say and they want to communicate what they're got to say - whatever it's about, whether it's about romance, as I've said before, or whether it's about protest or it's about the state of the economy - whatever they want to say, they've got a forum to do it in their songs. And there are other people who are in it solely because they want to be famous. And if there were a TV programme - if the way to being famous now was to become a checkout person in a supermarket and there were TV shows dedicated to that then that's what they'll be doing.

    Newshost:
    We have a comment from Alex in the UK saying that the whole evening had less class and professionalism. And you talked earlier about it being a big TV event and Alex, in particular, thinks that Davina McCall was terrible and that if that's all we've got in terms of UK talent then it's a pretty poor show.

    Rick Sky:
    TV presenting is a very, very hard job but I mean I think if Davina McCall was paid 100,000 for that performance then I think she might have been overpaid by 99,000. I mean Davina McCall knows how to shout and knows how to say - and this is the hottest thing, since the hottest thing ever, since the hottest thing and let's party. They wanted her because I suppose she's a safe pair of hands. In my opinion they could have had someone who I think is really talented - Sara Cox from Radio 1 - who I think is a very, very funny and erudite presenter, even though sometimes it's hard to understand what's she's saying, could have fallen back on good old Jonathan Ross. I actually thought Frank Skinner was great last year, I mean I know I'm in a minority but the thing is that if you saw it on television what happened to Frank Skinner was every one of his comments was cut because what he was doing was kind of upsetting the apple cart and poking fun at the ceremony which is perhaps not what you should be doing but I enjoyed it.

    Newshost:
    Perhaps that's why he wasn't invited back again. We've got another e-mail from Derek in the UK who says quite simply: "Who cares - these people are manufactured to order by the media industry and have no intrinsic merit. We have the technology the next step is to substitute amateurs for the lot of them." What do you think of that?

    Rick Sky:
    Well I mean of course there is a great deal of manufactured pop but there always will be. I thought there was too much of a balance, for example in the best single I think every one of those categories of best single was really a manufactured band which is pretty much a disgrace. But there are other bands there that aren't manufactured that are pretty worthy. I mean I don't particularly like Coldplay and I don't like David Gray either so the whole evening for me was - I was on a bit of a hiding to nothing. But there are bands - for example I thought Pink was good, I don't think she's manufactured, I think Avril Lavigne was quite good, I think Ms Dynamite is good.

    Newshost:
    And it's bold, it's a very bold thing to have created the new category - the best British urban act - because they're trying to keep up with what's happening out on the streets and so knowing that that's what's being bought, I mean it's commercially very successful.

    Rick Sky:
    Exactly but I think one of the things that they're missing out on they don't quite understand still that British rock music is almost in its death-throes sadly and where they should be doing much more is in the dance scene. The dance scene is what young kids really are interested in - that's the new rock and roll and it has been the new rock and roll for the last 10 years almost, but the Brits don't seem to have pushed themselves that far.

    Newshost:
    We've just had another e-mail from Lucy in London who says: "I'd rather have our music stars having a bit of lip instead of being puppets." Again going back to the political issue. I mean it does seem that it obviously is of concern to a lot of people - the international crisis at the moment - and in a way even if people are saying pop stars don't have a right to say it or in this case she's saying that they do.

    Rick Sky:
    They should be allowed to say it, yes of course. I mean they should be allowed to say whatever they want and I mean the anodyne acts - it's all the Pop Idol ones that can't really say anything about anything because they're told not to because they're told that if they say anything it might upset the sales of a record. I mean they're too worried now. Pop music has become so formulaic and formulated and so cynical now, they know exactly how to make a hit, they know how to not only make a hit, how to make a hit go to number one, they know in what week to do it - they know everything about it. And they know that if an artist - for an artist to stand the best chance he's got to have the widest possible audience, so let's be anodyne, let's not upset anyone. And that was the feeling that you almost got from the show.

    Newshost:
    Well let's just end with a very positive comment actually from Katy Beale in the UK saying that she was in the crowd at the front and it was an amazing night, she had a great time - the acts were fantastic - bar the Sugababes, who seemed rather bored and dull and since they're just a dance band she not surprised - and Ms Dynamite rocked as did Coldplay. So she liked those - unlike you Rick. And Kylie and Justin - she thought Kylie looked rather orange - I think she's referring to her fake tan.

    Rick Sky:
    Well most, yes, I think most pop stars and TV celebrities have got the Dale Winton disease, haven't they of looking incredibly orange. But I mean that's because I suppose they're told it looks good for cameras.

    Newshost:
    Do you still like going?

    Rick Sky:
    Yes I do - I mean I love it. I think it's very, very easy to be cynical and jaded about it and I hope I haven't - maybe I've come over as that but I do enjoy it and I think there's great, great music out there, there really is in Britain. The problem was that yesterday you saw that the best music was actually coming out of America - that's what you saw yesterday - that the really good music is from America. I mean Eminem is superb, he's a great artist. I thought it was a disgrace that Misdemeanour Elliott didn't win anything because she's revolutionised rap music. So there's great music.

    Newshost:
    But the urban category at least does at least keep in touch with what's good out there in Britain.

    Rick Sky:
    Very much so, very much so.

    Newshost:
    That's great. I'm afraid that's all we've got time for. My thanks to our guest Rick Sky and to you for your many questions. From me, Razia Iqbal goodbye.





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