Brit Awards 2023: Could Harry Styles sweep the board?

Brit Awards 2023: Could Harry Styles sweep the board?

Image source, Getty Images
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Harry Styles has won two previous Brit Awards

Harry Styles could dominate the Brit Awards on Saturday night, with bookmakers predicting he’ll win all four of the awards he’s nominated for.

The star is set to repeat his success from the Grammys, where the airbrushed pop LP Harry’s House won best album.

Styles is also up for best artist, best pop act and song of the year, for his ubiquitous smash hit, As It Was.

He faces competition from Stormzy, Dua Lipa and indie duo Wet Leg when the ceremony kicks off at 20:30 GMT.

It’s the first time the event has been held on a Saturday night – with bosses hoping the new time slot will help boost audience figures, which fell to an historic low of 2.7 million people in 2022.

In the 1990s, the Brits regularly attracted nine million viewers to its live shows, but audiences have been falling steadily for two decades.

The 2023 instalment hopes to reverse the decline with performances from Lizzo, Sam Smith and Styles himself.

Here’s everything you need to know about the ceremony.

1) How to watch the Brits

Sam RyderImage source, Brit Awards
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Sam Ryder, pictured here hugging an oversized Brit Award trophy, is up for best new artist

The ceremony is broadcast live in the UK by ITV1 and ITVX from 20:30 – 22:45 GMT on Saturday 11 February.

Outside the UK, viewers will be able to watch the ceremony on the official Brit Awards YouTube channel.

And the BBC News website will have extensive coverage from the red carpet and the ceremony itself from 17:00 GMT.

2) What’s the controversy over best artist?

FlorenceImage source, Getty Images
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Florence has won best British female solo artist multiple times, but the category is no more

In 2022, the Brits merged separate male and female categories into new awards for “best artist” and “best international artist”.

But there was a backlash when women were excluded from this year’s best artist shortlist, with high-profile acts like Charli XCX and Florence + The Machine failing to secure a nomination.

“If the Brits are meant to be accolades for all, how can we persist with a category that this year has excluded half of the population?” asked All Saints star Shaznay Lewis, herself a two-time Brit Award winner.

Brits chairman Damian Christian called the situation “disappointing” – but noted that major acts like Adele and Dua Lipa hadn’t released any music during the eligibility period.

In fact, of the 70 acts put forward for best artist, only 12 were women, a figure that’s illustrative of a wider problem: Only 20% of the artists signed to a major UK record label are female.

“In 2022 there clearly wasn’t enough women landing those big hits or albums,” Christian told Music Week. “And if this repeats itself this year and going forward, then we’ll need to have discussions as an industry and hold ourselves accountable.”

3) Who’s performing?

LizzoImage source, Getty Images
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US pop star Lizzo is set to perform on the night

Harry Styles leads the performers’ list, and he’ll hoping to shake off the memory of last Sunday’s Grammy performance, when his rotating stage malfunctioned, ruining three weeks of intricately-planned choreography.

Sam Smith & Kim Petras will also be revisiting the Grammy performance of their hit single, Unholy. In the US, their erotically-charged set upset religious conservatives, who said the duo had embraced Satanic imagery. The Church of Satan, however, responded that the performance was “alright” and “nothing particularly special”.

Lizzo, Lewis Capaldi, Cat Burns, Wet Leg and Stormzy are also lined up to perform on Saturday, while DJ David Guetta will perform a set of hits, accompanied by Becky Hill and Ella Henderson.

4) Host Mo Gilligan has secret favourites

Mo GilliganImage source, Getty Images
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Comedian Mo Gilligan returns as host of the ceremony

“The thing with the Brits is you never know what’s going to happen,” says comedian Mo Gilligan, who’s back to host the show for a second time.

“But I also get to see my friends, like Little Simz, pick up an award and take her mum on stage. It’s a nice feeling to be part of that.”

So how does he keep a poker face if one of his friends is beaten by Adele, George Ezra or Cat Burns?

“I’ve got to be impartial!” he protests. “But if you want my opinions on music, we’ll be here for a time. I listen to 80s groove and Motown, so I’m like, ‘Where’s Diana Ross? Get the Supremes in there!’

“But at the same time, you want your friends to win, innit?”

5) Wet Leg come into the ceremony with a Grammy headwind

Wet LegImage source, Getty Images
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Wet Leg won two Grammys last Sunday in Los Angeles but are still rubbish at hide and seek

Isle of Wight indie duo Wet Leg, who formed on a whim at the top of a ferris wheel, are this year’s most-nominated band, thanks to smart and salacious earworms like Chaise Longue and Angelica.

They won two Grammys last weekend, for best alternative album and best alternative song (Chaise Longue again).

“This is so funny,” giggled singer Rhian Teasdale on stage in LA. “What are we even doing here?”

They should feel more comfortable on home soil, but the band say their four nominations were totally “unexpected”.

“We started out writing songs just to amuse ourselves,” says Teasdale. “If we could go back and visit our younger selves and say, ‘This is where you’ll be in 10 years’ time,’ I don’t know what we’d do.”

6) The Rising Star prize has been downgraded

FloImage source, Brit Awards
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Flo won the Rising Star prize, as well as the BBC Sound of 2023 award

The Rising Star prize is the Brits’ seal of approval for up-and-coming artists, previously won by Adele, Sam Fender, Jorja Smith and Rag N’ Bone Man before they were famous.

In recent years, the winner has been given a slot to perform alongside their heroes at London’s O2 Arena. This year, they won’t even be part of the televised ceremony – with their trophy handed over on the red carpet.

That’s a huge shame, as this year’s winners, Flo, are one of the most exciting girl groups to come out of the UK in years.

The trio, who also won the BBC Sound Of 2023, are incredible live performers. They could harmonise with a cement mixer and make it sound beautiful. Excluding them from the ceremony feels like a miss.

7) Nova Twins are making their own outfits

Nova TwinsImage source, Getty Images
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Nova Twins Georgia South and Amy Love rocking out

Post-punk rock band Nova Twins are nominated in two categories on Saturday – best alternative act and best group.

“It’s amazing for us,” says vocalist/guitarist Amy Love. “When we were younger, we dreamt big. We were like, ‘Yes, we can get to the Brit Awards.’

“But then you start on your journey and reality sets in. Being women – and especially women of colour doing rock music – people were like, ‘You should be doing hip-hop.’

“So we had to navigate very differently, but now we’re here.”

The duo will be sticking to their DIY aesthetic by tailoring their own outfits for Saturday’s red carpet.

“We had to go big for the Brits,” says bassist Georgia South. “Our hint is, ‘Regal punk fairies’.”

“Hopefully it will stay intact,” adds Love. “We’ll bring a needle and thread just in case anything pops off. No nipple slips.”

8) This year’s statues have three heads

Brit Awards 2023 statuesImage source, Brit Awards
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New Brit Award trophies like these will adorning some stars’ coffee tables before the weekend is out

Since 2011, the Brit Awards trophies have been re-designed by a different artist every year, with Dame Vivienne Westwood, Sir Peter Blake, Tracey Emin and Es Devlin all putting their unique spin on the statuette.

London-based, Nigerian-born artist Slawn has created this year’s prize, inspired by the bronze sculptures of his home country.

The trophy has three separate faces, so that it looks different from every angle; while the iconic Britannia figure (a female personification of Britain) has removed her helmet.

“The concept behind the sculpture is ‘hats off to you’,” said Slawn. “My decision to remove the helmet from the award is my way of thanking the Brits for providing me with this opportunity.”

And who would he like to see picking up one of the trophies?

“Taylor Swift,” he said. “And if not her, then Central Cee.”

9) Disney could make history

EncantoImage source, Disney
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We Don’t Talk About Bruno is a song penned by Lin-Manuel Miranda for the animated film Encanto

We Don’t Talk About Bruno, a song from the animated film Encanto, is the first-ever Disney song to be nominated for a Brit Award.

If it takes home the trophy for best international song, it’ll also be the first Brit Award for Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the track.

Elsewhere, Blackpink are the first ever K-pop girl group to receive a Brit nomination.

They’re shortlisted in the mind-bogglingly eclectic best international group category, alongside Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit, soul band Gabriels, Irish rock upstarts Fontaines DC and rap icons Drake & 21 Savage (for their collaborative album For Her).

10) Mimi Webb is bringing her mum

Mimi WebbImage source, Mimi Webb
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Meet the Webbs: Mimi and mum Sue

Earlier, this year, pop star Mimi Webb played a sneaky trick.

After learning she’d been nominated for best new artist, she sat her mum down for a “serious chat”.

“Are you alright?” asked Sue Webb, a look of concern flashing across her face, before Mimi broke the news.

“Oh my God, I’ve got goosebumps,” exclaimed Sue, blinking back tears.

“She was so shocked!” recalls Mimi, who’s about to release her debut album, Amelia.

“Even now, every day I get phone calls about it. She’s just so excited.”

Mrs Webb is accompanying her 22-year-old daughter to the show on Saturday… but will Mimi mimic Little Simz and take mum on stage if she wins?

“I’ll definitely have to try,” she laughs. “But she might be a bit nervous.”

11) Who’ll win album of the year?

Collage of Brit Award best album nominee coversImage source, Brit Awards
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The best album category pits Harry Styles against his tour buddies Wet Leg, as well as Stormzy

Album of the Year is the night’s main prize… And Harry Styles looks like he’s got it sewn up.

His third solo record, Harry’s House, is a big warm hug of an album inspired by 80s synth pop and 70s classic rock; that happens to contain the biggest single of 2022 – As It Was.

The album sold 460,000 copies last year, more than four times as many as the next biggest-seller on the shortlist.

That honour goes to Wet Leg’s self-titled debut, which is full of angular, hook-laden student disco songs that tap into themes of millennial disaffection and anxiety.

Stormzy gets his third album of the year nomination for This Is What I Mean, which delves deep into the artist’s religious beliefs; while The 1975’s Being Funny In A Foreign Language presents a more restrained version of a band known for their glitch-pop excess.

The outlier is Fred Again’s Actual Life Volume 3, a collection of emotive dance tracks that celebrate community and collaboration after the dark days of the lockdown.

But let’s face it, any outcome other than a Harry Styles victory would call the very existence of the Brit Awards into question.

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