The BRITs have become a bit shitty. James Corden gets emotional about Adele selling loads of records, Joss Stone had a weird accent that one time. That being said, when you forgive it's corporate laced nature and slightly disingenuous host- it has given way to some game changing live performances over the years. That's what we're celebrating right now.


10: Spice Girls (1997)

This is what pop is made to look like. Massive money being somewhat blindly thrown at big-selling artists to perform megamixes of their juggernaut singles for label execs to wolf-whistle over. There's even something nice about watching them mime so shitty. Plus Geri wore that dress which Robert Cavalli then redesigned for Geri to rock at the 2007 reunion tour. Apparently the original was just a tea towel on top of a Gucci number. Stay classy.

9: Michael Jackson (ft. Jarvis Cocker) (1996)

'The Earth Song' is ridiculous. We love Michael Jackson but this song is the closest we will ever come to seeing Chris DeBurgh collaborating with the cast of Les Miserables sponsored by Nestle and UNICEF at the same time. Thankfully, everyone's favourite Quentin Blake illustration, Jarvis Cocker was there to give Britain a reality check and make the whole parade even more enjoyable.

8: Amy Winehouse (2008)

After a more sensationalised performance of 'Rehab' the year before, this brought Winehouse's glasslike vocal to the forefront and became one of the final major performances from the songstress on British TV. There is something heartbreaking about her vocal acrobatics coming from such a distant, vacant stare. She finishes the performance with an "I love you baby" and gets the crowd to make noise for her husband Blake.

7: Rihanna & Klaxons (2008)

The meeting Klaxons and superstar Rihanna set the precedent for the future of mainstream pops 'cool' revival and indie acceptance. The collaborative effort of 'Umbrella' and 'Golden Skans' helped define the modernisation of an era that Lorde and Disclosure are set to continue at tonight's event. Plus back in 2008 everyone was going apeshit for these tunes.

6: Pet Shop Boys (ft. Lady Gaga & Brandon Flowers) (2009)

After winning that big award they always give out at the end, Pet Shop Boys treated viewers to a 10-minute over-stylised retrospective of some of their greatest hits with the help of Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers. 'Go West' is a real highlight of this escapade but the whole thing is a fitting celebration of one of the most important outfits in the history of British pop.

5: Girls Aloud (2009)

Shaking their feather boas in the faces of those who wrote them off years before, belting out the very song that had finally won them an overdue Brit award, Girls Aloud once again established themselves at the top of pop. If the Brits are designed to be a blowout of the best of the biggest. This is an all-time treasure.

4: Arcade Fire (2011)

The opening stabs of 'Ready to Start' were like shots of sweet revenge from the Twitter trolls who couldn't fathom why an alternative Canadian troop of "old ppl" were winning awards that Mumford and Sons should've got. They'd just played The Grammys and this performance was another round of the victory lap for 'The Suburbs'. Commercial acceptance never felt so sweet.

3: Whitney Houston (1999)

This is the perfect way to remember the late singer. She's not spotlit amidst a sea of dry ice, nor is she struggling with wardrobe malfunctions on talent shows. This is her all in black showing more prowess than any of her successors with a rendition of her back-on-your-feet anthem, 'It's Not Right, But It's OK'.

2: Billie, B*Witched, Steps, Cleopatra & Tina Cousins (1999)

I mean, you'll laugh, we laughed, everyone will laugh now. But if you were on the brink of a new millennium and the creme de la creme of British pop music performed a medley of songs from the best group to ever do it, you'd probably be in some kind of sugary utopia. It's like a time capsule for a simpler time, where "costume" meant blue wigs and headbands and Billie Piper was the logical choice to lead a primetime ABBA tribute. 

1: The KLF vs. Extreme Noise Terror (1992)

Revolutionary dance/art group The KLF were awarded Best British Band in '92 alongside Simply Red. In an attempt to hijack proceedings, they teamed up with grindcore metal troop Extreme Noise Terror to create the greatest moment in Brits history. Their death metal rendition of '3AM Eternal' ended with KLF co-founder Bill Drummond firing machine gun blanks in to the audience before the announcement came through the speakers, "The KLF have now left the music business". The fun didn't stop there, guests arriving at the after show party saw the band dump a dead sheep outside the venue with the message, "I died for ewe, bon appetit".

22 years on from this iconic performance, we spoke to Drummond about the night in question, here's what he had to say:

"When something reaches mythical status in the history of rock’s ‘rich tapestry’ it is hard to know what was legend or reality. Did Elvis really die sitting on the khazi clutching a Big Mac? Does the reality matter if the legend is good enough? Did Keith Moon really drive his Rolls-Royce into his swimming pool?

When you yourself are part of one of these still evolving myths, it is even harder to step outside your own memories of the events to have any sort of overview or appreciation. That is the case for me and The KLF’s final performance at the BRIT Awards 1992. What I do know for certain is that a lot more was planned for the evening that for various reasons was scuppered. I also know I will be eternally grateful for not chopping off my left hand and throwing it into the crowd. But the thing that I keep coming back to – if I ever think about it – was how did we get away with smuggling a real automatic rifle backstage and for me to then fire a whole magazine of blanks into the combined ranks of the British music business, without being reprimanded in any way. With the way the world is today, I’m sure there would have been an armed security guard at the back of the hall who would have taken me out before my finger first squeezed the trigger."

Words: Duncan Harrison, Kane Anson & Georgette MK

AuthorDuncan Harrison