The so-called Special Relationship. We give them hand-carved ornaments, they give us the DVDs they forgot to post back to LoveFilm.
The currency exchange in pop is similarly uneven. The BRITs this year was a game effort by Universal Records’ David Joseph to return to the concept of being All About the Music. Unfortunately the newspapers preferred to concentrate on the important mattter of Cheryl Cole’s dress.
The Blackpool pier fare on offer at London’s O2 will always take second place to the Bob Fosse razzmatazz of the Grammys. Here were the ten main differences between Sunday night and Tuesday night’s shows:
1 The Grammys is longer. With a stiff breeze behind you and a decent fastforward on your planner, you can skip ads and do the BRITs in under 90 minutes. The American awards ceremony lasts three and a half hours.
4 Perhaps it was understandable touchiness over Rodney King or concern about Ice T getting past security but The Grammys are more sensitive about keeping their riot police separate from the performers. Perfectly reasonable when Plan B is setting a rozzer on fire.
5 Rock remains in trouble on both sides of the Atlantic as far as the mainstream is concerned. Arcade Fire did drag the Grammys into the 21st Century with their surprise win for Album of the Year. Although the Canadians won two BRITs, the main winners and stories in the UK were either pop (Take That, Justin Bieber), rap (Tinie Tempah) or alt-country (Laura Marling, the Mumfords).
In the US, Muse, Jay Z and Alicia picked up awards but country MOR stars Lady Antellebum won the big one, for Record of the Year, and The Bieber also won two Grammys. Arcade Fire aside, no way could this ceremony be described as “rad.”
6 At The Grammys, Mumford and Sons were joined by the Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan and an unnecessary yellow trucker cap. Not so much of a collaboration as acts on the same stage at the same time until His Bobness arrives to sing Maggie’s Farm.
Only the yellow trucker cap crossed the Atlantic when the Mumford family business hit London.
7 Stateside, things are just that bit slicker. BRIT award-winners Justin Bieber (yes, him again) and Tinie Tempah called for, respectively, his international bodyguard Mike and producer Labrinth to join them on stage. Cue: minutes of dead air, and only Mike responding to the call. The awkward silence could have been interrupted, although that might have involved Bieber singing.
Small point: next time an entertainment figure clambers onstage to say “This means so much more because it was voted for the public”, just say: “Four words – Justin Bieber, Brits 2011.”
The other telling stage episode was Arcade Fire’s Win Butler thanking all the British artists who have inspired him, mentioning Bowie, Culture Club and The Clash and chronologically only going up to New Order and The Smiths. No current acts. Like Adam Ant, he struggled to get past the ‘80s. Awards presenters Duran Duran and Boy George must have been secretly chuffed.
9 There is one area where we Brits are ahead of the game. Brits 2010 starred Lady Gaga, and Florence and the Machine who won Best Album. Both were at Grammys 2011. Brits 2011 starred Adele and Tinie Tempah. Expect the pair to try and gatecrash Grammys 2012. Cheryl Cole might be more reliant on a plus one from Simon Cowell. The BRITs is also more cutting edge generally than the Grammys. In the same year (1995) Blur’s Damon Albarn screamed “Wake up, America” at their fourth victory speech, the best Grammy album was Tony Bennett: Unplugged.
10 No-one at The Grammys said anything as jaw-droppingly inane as James Corden’s introduction: “Be upstanding for the legend that is…Dermot O’ Leary.” To recap: he’s ordering a standing ovation for a presenter. He’s dropped the L-word. In connection with… Dermot O’ Leary. Our proud nation can at least console itself that no-one spent three days in an egg preparing for The BRITs. Yeah, exactly. Wake Up, America.