Bowie and Little Mix win big, a Wham! tribute to George Michael and Adele’s global domination is confirmed: The Brits 2017 round-up

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The night saw performances from some of the music industry’s biggest stars, awards for some old timers  and a few upsets along the away.

Little Mix opened the show, carried in on thrones like the queens of pop they are. Performing Shoutout To My Ex flanked by 70-plus dancers in what could be described as Michael and Janet in Scream meets Gaga in space via RuPaul’s Drag Race, they raised the roof right off the O2 before ascending up out of it on a hydraulic lift.

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Bruno Mars crooned his way through That’s What I Like in a super-smooth performance that seemed to win over a crowd of baying ladies, despite him being dressed as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

 

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Emeli Sande was accompanied by a troupe of contemporary, martial-arts style dancers as she did what she does best. She delivered a dramatic version on her latest track Hurts, and perhaps surprisingly, gave one of the stand-out performances of night.

The 1975 gave a somewhat erratic performance of The Sound. Critics’ reviews of the band flashed on screen throughout with barbs such as “totally lacking the wow factor” and “Is this a joke?” The irony may have been a little lost. Although, choir in tow, the boys still managed to delight the crowd.

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Katy Perry’s rendition of new tune Chained to the Rhythm had all the charisma of the cardboard houses and giant skeleton that shared her stage. The sound team were working overdrive a la Kanye in 2015 with an expletive-ridden performance from Skepta. The grime song was supposed to be in defence of the genre’s bad reputation but with a mostly muted turn, the message got lost in translation.

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Coldplay teamed up with EDM hot shots Chainsmokers to debut their collaboration, Something Just Like This, in the psychedelic setting we’ve come to expect from the band. Man of the moment Ed Sheeran also took to the stage with not only one, but both of his recent singles, Castle on the Hill and Touch, the latter featuring a guest appearance by Stormzy.

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It was a mixed bag with regards to the awards themselves, with some old pros bagging awards as well as some unexpected wins.

Sande, who last year returned to the pop fold with second album Long Live The Angels, beat out relative unknowns Nao, Anohni and Lianne La Havas and veteran Ellie Goulding to bag Best British Female. She sweetly took her sister Lucy up to the podium to collect the gong, dedicating it to her in the process.

The 1975, who last year scored number one albums on both sides of the Atlantic, deservedly beat Little Mix, Bastille, Biffy Clyro and Radiohead to British Band. Lead singer encouraged anyone with a platform to speak out and to “not stay in your lane.” David Bowie was given British Male in a no-contest category with Craig David, Kano, Skepta and Michael Kiwanuka. Michael C. Hall, who is starring in the Bowie musical Lazarus, accepted the posthumous award on the singer’s behalf.

British Breakthrough went to Rag n Bone Man, aka Rory Graham, who had earlier been awarded the Critic’s Choice award for 2017. He thanked his fans for the award in a touching speech and was genuinely buzzing to be gaining momentum, despite being “ten years deep” into his career.

One of the biggest awards of the night, British Single, went to Shoutout To My Ex by Little Mix, beating out big hitters like Zayn’s Pillowtalk and the unshakeable Rockabye by Clean Bandit. The moment echoed girl band predecessors Girls Aloud’s winning moment for the same award back in 2008. It was a hard-earned battle for the four-piece, previously topping charts around the world and breaking records set by a little-known pop group called The Spice Girls in the past few years.

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Other big winners of the night included Drake, for International Male, Beyonce for International Female and in a big upset, A Tribe Called Quest for Internation Group. Adele bagged the Global Success gong but couldn’t attend the ceremony, so thanked fans via video message.

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Following Adele’s tribute to the late George Michael at the Grammys earlier this month, Brits organisers also paid homage. George’s Wham! Bandmates Andrew Ridgley, Shirlie Kemp and Helen ‘Pepsi’ DeMacque gave a beautiful speech about their beloved friend, recalling the beginnings of the band and their relationship. They talked about his talent, his heart and his great kindness. “Anyone who asked for George’s help invariably got it.” The ladies of Wham! broke down in tears as they spoke. “I loved him,” said Andrew. “And in turn, we, you – have been loved.” Chris Martin gave a performance of A Different Corner, duetting with a video recording of the man himself. A lovely touch.

Robbie Williams closed proceedings with Heavy Entertainment Show/Love My Life and delivered a typically showy performance befitting the most decorated artist in Brits history. It wasn’t a vintage year, but it was better than it’s been in a long time – probably, since Williams was last on the stage.

Full list of winners:

British Female – Emeli Sande

British Male – David Bowie

British Group – The 1975

International Male – Drake

International Female – Beyonce

International Group – A Tribe Called Quest

British Single – Shoutout to My Ex, Little Mix

British Artist Video of the Year – History, One Direction

Mastercard British Album –

Global Success – Adele

Photos: Lia Toby, WENN, David Fisher, Shutterstock, REX, Matt Cossick, Empics Entertainment, ITV, Joel Ryan, Invision, AP, Jonathan Lipinski, BBC

WATCH: Mollie King’s sultry new video for debut solo single Back To You

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She’s made more headlines recently for her killer style and her dalliances with supermodel David Gandy, but Mollie King today dropped her debut solo single – and it’s pretty hot.

Back To You premiered on YouTube today after the singer teased fans earlier in the week that she was about to release solo music. She tweeted: “Coming Friday…#BackToYou” with a short clip of the video.

As ex-girl banders go, it is a pretty good first attempt. It has elements of early noughties dance a la Angel City, her soft Kylie-esque vocals over a synthy tune that wouldn’t sound out of place as a Girls Aloud, or indeed Saturdays, B-side. However, it runs the risk of not being particularly memorable; in a year that has been dominated by surprisingly cool pop tracks from the likes of Justin Bieber, DNCE and Jess Glynne, is it good enough to top the charts? Time will tell. The video is certainly smooth. Little black dress? Check! Sexy co-star? Check! Flash motor? Check! Yep – she’s got all bases covered. Gandy is a lucky fella (for many reasons).

Mollie is the second Saturday to go for solo success – lead singer Vanessa White released a single, Relationship Goals, back in 2015 but has struggled to make a dent in the charts.

Here’s hoping Mollie fares a bit better because she’s always been our favourite!

Watch the video below:

Back To You is available to stream and download now

NOW PLAYING: Tinashe – Superlove

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Last year she released one of the hottest R&B records of the year in the form of All Hands On Deck and it limped to #156 in the UK charts. On the contrary, All My Friends, by male DJ duo Snakehips made it to #5 the same year and featured Tinashe’s vocals. It’s now a year later (and four years since she released her first material) and Tinashe still hasn’t made it on her own. What gives?

Hoping to change that is the latest track from the Kentucky-born diva, Superlove. Produced by Tricky Stewart and The-Dream, who between them are responsible for mega-hits by Beyonce, Rihanna and Britney to name but a few, Superlove is the epitome of summer jam. Coming off like a younger, poppier cousin of a Nicki Minaj song, it’s 80s and 90s vibes are like sonic sunshine.

Tinashe has described the song as a “celebration of happiness. More specifically, it celebrates the kind of happiness that is so immense and infectious, that you can’t help but to rejoice in it. I hope to eulogize this wonderful energy and make people feel good, love harder, and dance together.” Amen to that!

The song comes complete with beach video, with the singer and her pals recreating Baywatch and saving a drowning fella, all whilst twerking up a storm. The choreography is FIRE. Taking us back to a classic age in R&B and hip hop when divas like Aaliyah, Brandy and TLC, and in more recent times Ciara, came armed with full-on, all-out routines, Tinashe shows she not only has a killer voice but the moves to back it up. The choreography is slick and sexy has elements of all those flawless ladies that came before her.

2016 – hopefully remembered as the year Tinashe took the throne. Watch out, RiRi.

Superlove is available to download on iTunes now

Watch the video for Superlove below:

Photo: Sarah McColgan

Sarah Harding and Andy Moss to lead Ghost the musical into Sunderland

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It’s been a movie, took the West End by storm and was Tony-nominated on Broadway. Now, the story of Ghost is flying into the North East.

The musical comes to the city’s Empire theatre next month starring Sarah Harding and Andy Moss in the lead roles of Molly and Sam. The Girls Aloud singer and Hollyoaks heartthrob will lead the new reimagined production produced by Bill Kenwright.

The show, with a book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin and music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, is based on the 1990 Academy Award-winning film, which starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, who bagged a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance. The film was the highest-grossing film released that year.

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Andy Moss will star as Sam in the show

Walking back to their apartment late one night a tragic encounter sees Sam murdered and his beloved girlfriend Molly alone, in despair and utterly lost. But with the help of a phony storefront psychic, Sam, trapped between this world and the next, tries to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving her from grave danger.

Harding, who had a short stint earlier this year in Coronation Street and is making her theatre debut, said she was “absolutely thrilled” about her role in the show. “The film is one of my all-time favourites, so to get the opportunity to play Molly in Bill Kenwright’s new production is a huge honour and I can’t wait to get started.”

She will be looking to emulate the success of her fellow Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh, who has made a name for herself in West End shows like Shrek, Elf and Sweet Charity.

The show will begin its tour in Wimbledon before travelling to Bristol, Birmingham and then Sunderland, before continuing throughout the country.

Ghost will be at the Sunderland Empire from September 26 – October 1. For tickets call the box office on 0844 871 3022 or visit the ATG website here

Watch Sarah Harding talking about the show below:

Photos: PA and Lime Pictures

Video: ITV

Should’ve Been Huge: MKS – Flatline

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A few years back, pop tarts were elated when the three original members of the Sugababes announced they were reuniting under a new moniker to try and revert pop to its glory days of early noughties fierceness.

Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhan Donaghy, under the name MKS (makes sense) announced they would be returning to the music biz and releasing new material in July 2012. It was over a year later in September 2013 when they released their single Flatline, setting the internet on fire. Critics lost their shit over it and bloggers praised the band’s new sound. Sleek and modern, it screamed No. 1.

Commercial success, however, wasn’t so easily garnered and the song, well, flat lined. It limped to number 50, failing to chart. A second single and the as-promised album failed to surface, which left us in girl band limbo.

Will it ever be heard?

Let’s go back to the start for a second. Mutual and Keisha meet at primary school in London. As teens, a manager adds Siobhan to the mix and the Sugababes are born. Unfortunately, after a couple of hits, it all went a bit wrong.

Siobhan famously bolted from the group whilst they were on tour in Australia. A press release was sent out on her behalf, and without her consent, saying she had a kidney infection. She never went back.

Mutya left in 2005 and was replaced by Amelle Berrabah and in 2009, Keisha threw the towel in, with Jade Ewen taking her spot. If all of the girls had stayed, the band would have been seven members-strong at this point. Rumours of fights between the girls have always been banded about, some of which they themselves have confirmed. They blame their managers for the split however, claiming they pitted them against each other.

With all three original Babes out of the picture, the band became more about looks than music. In 2011, this incarnation announced they were over and done with, too.

Which brings us up to 2014. After a less-than-triumphant return, Mutya fueled rumours the band was about to split again, tweeting “Gym diet and letting go to any1 that dnt make me feel good…Time to move on.” Fans despaired but the girls’ each took to their Twitter accounts to assure them all was well and the band’s spokesman said: ‘The tweet is nothing to do with the band.” Their label says the album is still on its way. Siobhan recently gave a radio interview saying the album would be coming in 2017.

Whether the split rumours are true or MKS are just making us wait so they can make the grand entrance they deserve, we’re ready.

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Produced by Dev Hynes, the man behind Solange Knowles’ debut EP and hits by Florence and the Machine and The Chemical Brothers, Flatline was the first time in over a decade fans were able to hear Buena, Buchanan and Donaghy’s voices together on the same record. And boy, was it worth the wait.

Just like their introduction to us the first time round, 2000’s Overload, it’s a slice of sassy, slick, all-round amazingness. Pop music can sometimes get a bad reputation as being cheesy or camp but these girls ain’t having any of that. Mixing 90s drum beats with 80s synths, it’s a hybrid of genres and sounds that at the time truly sounded like nothing else on the pop landscape.

The opening lyric, ‘don’t say it no, please wait ‘til we’re sober. Don’t play a sad song, put your guitar back down’ is goose bump-inducing and throws you off immediately. All the production of a club hit with gut-wrenching lyrics Amy Winehouse would be producing were she still around today.

Their voices blend beautifully as they approach the chorus. Mutya brings the husky soul, Keisha the riffs and Siobhan the belt. The eponymous Flatline of the title refers to the unfulfilled expectations of a relationship. ‘I can feel a flatline that ought to be a wave,’ the girls sing with the soul of an American 90s R&B group. And we’re talking En Vogue here, not Destiny’s Child. It all builds to an almighty crescendo as drummers and a male chorus join together with the girls’ soaring vocals to take us to church. Amen.

And don’t get us started on the video. Think Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford flitting off to Venice Beach for a girls’ holiday. Then add a marching band, vintage sports car and leather mini skirts, and you’re about there. All filmed on a camera with a filter Instagram would gag on, of course.

It was our favourite track of 2013 and we truly believe it will go down in music history as the little-pop-song-that-could, but didn’t. Charting at No. 50, it was a sad day when this pop gem failed to reach its real potential. We salute you, MKS.

Now PLEASE give us an album.

WATCH: Rihanna shares stunning new video for Star Trek theme song Sledgehammer

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Rihanna has taken a break from twerking and packing out stadiums across the world to record the soundtrack to the new Star Trek film. (I know, we’re shocked too) And today, she put out the video.

Sledgehammer, which comes from the new Justin Lin-directed Star Trek Beyond -the third film in the new rebooted franchise of the space saga – is a soaring ballad co-written by Jesse Shatkin and an unknown songwriter by the name of Sia.

It’s a different direction for the Bajan beauty, and definitely has Sia’s stamp on it – ironic as it was the Titanium singer  who hit headlines earlier in the year when she revealed RiRi was one of a number of singers who turned down tracks she wrote – tracks which eventually formed Sia’s wild successful album, This Is Acting. Dreamy piano and synths and backed by a pounding beat on Sledgehammer and it sounds like a ready-made hit. Lesson of the day: Always listen to Sia.

The video sees Rihanna gyrating on a big rock, on what looks like Mars. She’s surrounded by all manner of trippy kaleidoscope effects, rocking a Shaolin monk-esque outfit. She even make monk robes look high-fash. Is there anything she can’t wear? It’s a stunning video by all accounts and it’s always refreshing to see an artistic pop video.

Watch the video below:

 

NOW PLAYING: Alicia Keys – In Common

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She’s been away from the spotlight, and those ivories, since 2012’s Girl On Fire. But, she’s back with an altogether new vibe – and we are FEELING it.

In Common sees Ms Keys bring a more chilled sound to the table. Opening with a gentle piano, the song builds into a more clubby sound – it reminds us of Take Care by Drake. Throw in some tribal drums and dreamy harmonies, all harnessed by her (as always) phenomenal vocals, In Common has all the makings of a major summer jam. The lyrics are somewhat more serious, though. She purrs, “If you could love somebody like me, you must be messed up too.”

Speaking on The Graham Norton Show, the 35-year-old said she was feeling very comfortable with herself. “I’ve been feeling really connected to myself. We’re all works in progresses and when we can admit that and just own that, then we set ourselves free. I’m feeling good.”

Aside from an upcoming album, Keys will be joining season 11 of The Voice US, alongside fellow newbie Miley Cyrus. And if anyone is in the position to judge singers, it’s this Grammy winning diva – and whether it be on TV or the radio, we’re just glad to have her back.

Watch the video below:

In Common is available to buy and download now

Eurovision 2016: We pick our favourites for the contest in Stockholm

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With days to go until the big night in Stockholm, we thought it appropriate, nay necessary, to compile our favourite entries of the competition. The Eurovision Song Contest is world famous for bringing the camp, something which is distinctly lacking this year. This year’s common theme seems to be big, dance tracks, which always go down well in the arena. Of course there’s the obligatory 80s power ballads (FYR Macedonia and Poland) and the twinky boy band (Denmark) and on the whole, everyone has brought their A game this year. Here’s our top picks…

Sergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One (Russia)

Who? Sergey Lazarev is a former member of Russian pop duo Smash!! and is famous in his home country for hits like Obsession. Russia is looking like the one to beat this year. Yes, the lyrics may be daft (“thunder and lightning, it’s getting exciting”) but when did the words ever matter in Eurovision? The song itself is a huge pop track, with a pounding baseline that leads you right up to a thunderous chorus. His dress rehearsals have looked MAJOR, complete with dance routine and expensive staging. And Sergey is easy on the eyes too, which won’t hurt his chances.

Agnete – Icebreaker (Norway)

Who? She has had number ones in her native Norway as the lead singer of Tha BlackSheeps, a punk band. She also won the Norwegian version of Strictly Come Dancing, Skal vi danse? Icebreaker is full of pounding drums and dramatic strings, both of which compliment Agnete’s great voice. The song also has an interesting structure – the chorus is somewhat restrained, compared to the build, which is a classic dance banger. Our favourite!

Joe and Jake – You’re Not Alone (UK)

Who? Joe Woolford and Jake Shakeshaft were both solo contestants on the fourth series of The Voice UK. They became a duo after the show ended and went on to be chosen to represent the UK via the BBC’s Eurovision: You decide. You’re Not Alone is a great little pop song – think One Direction in the early days, with a rocky twist. It’s a song that builds so the lads will need a big performance on the night to get everyone on their feet by the end.

Douwe Bob – Slow Down (Netherlands)

Who? Douwe Bob is folk singer-songwriter. He is also the son of Simon Posthuma, who with The Fools famously created costumes for the likes of The Beatles and The Hollies. Bob’s effort for the Netherlands, Slow Down, isn’t your typical Eurovision fare; it’s a cool, laid-back guitar song that wouldn’t sound out of place on an indie band’s album. A refreshing change from all the electronic stuff this year.

Donny Montell – I’ve Been Waiting For This Night (Lithuania)

Who? Donny Montell previously represented his country in the contest back in 2012, but was beaten by Sweden’s Loreen and her absolute banger, Euphoria. His real name is Donatas Montvydas (ooh!) His entry for this year reminds us of a Joe McElderry or Westlife track, and looking at the track record for pop in Eurovision, that is by no means a negative.

Dami Im – Sound Of Silence (Australia)

Who? Dami Im is a Korean-Australian singer who won the Aussie version of The X Factor in 2013. She is one of the country’s biggest artists and became the first X Factor contestant to follow up a number one single with a number one album on the ARIA Charts. Sound Of Silence, the second-ever Australian entry to Eurovision, is quite stunning. Sounding like Sia’s little sister, the drama of it mixed with Dami’s enormous pipes stand it in good steed (although Oz’s rookie status may go against them.)

The Eurovision Song Contest takes place on May 14.

LISTEN: All of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest entries

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It’s that time of year again, when Europe’s, erm, finest singers come together to battle it out and crown the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. On a night that in the past has seen everything from a certain Swedish pop group singing about a certain famous battle to a drag queen making music history to Polish maids milking cows on stage, the pop competition is nothing if not memorable. At it’s best it is remarkable and at it’s worst, well, it is even more remarkable.

This year’s contest will take place in Stockholm, Sweden, after the country came out victorious last year thanks to Mans Zelmerlow and his song, Heroes. Zelmerlow will host the show, along with Swedish comedian Petra Mede. Our entry, Joe and Jake, will be fancying their chances with the rather good You’re Not Alone. The song was picked by viewers to represent the UK as part of the BBC television programme, Eurovision: You Decide.

And those fearful of them getting the dreaded nul points can rest a little easier this year as voting has changed. Voting will be split, with each country’s jury vote cast first, and votes from viewers in all countries combined and announced at the end. The juries and the public voters will award a set of points from one to eight then 10 and 12 for each of the top 10 places.

The Eurovision Song Contest takes place on Saturday May 14. It will be shown on BBC1, time TBC.

Listen below to our playlist of this year’s hopefuls:

WATCH: 14-year-old singer brings the BGT judges to tears

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*SPOILER ALER* You’re probably going to cry at this one.

Britain’s Got Talent is no stranger to talented young singers. And last night, one 14-year-old girl came along and joined those ranks.

Jasmine Elcock sang a slowed-down version of Cher’s Believe and within the first few bars, it was clear which way this audition was headed.

The acoustic version of the song, previously performed by Ella Henderson on The X Factor, brought hosts Ant and Dec, and judges Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden to tears, with Alesha telling the singer, “There are so many reasons that auditioned moved me so much. I hope all your dreams come true.”

Simon Cowell said, “I think this country is going to totally fall in love with you.”

And the audition was topped off when Ant and Dec stormed the stage and used their Golden Buzzer to send a visibly-elated Jasmine straight to the BGT finals. All together now: AWWWWW.

Watch the audition below:

Britain’s Got Talent is on ITV1 Saturdays at 8