Emeli Sande performs during the BRIT Awards at the O2 Arena
in London. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Scottish singer Emeli Sande has won the coveted best
album honour at the BRIT Awards for "Our Version of Events",
confirming her status as favourite going into British pop's big
night of the year.
The 25-year-old, who received a major boost by appearing at
the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies last summer, also
picked up the best British female artist on a night of few
surprises in terms of winners and on-stage antics.
"I think I'm a very unlikely pop star," an emotional Sande
told a packed O2 Arena in London on receiving the best album
"This is an album I wrote because I didn't have the
confidence to sing these things in person. This is a dream,
really, so thank you for this year and thank you for this
award. I'm so grateful."
Sande capped her success by performing a medley of "Clown"
and "Next to Me" to close the ceremony, broadcast live on
commercial channel ITV.
The other multiple winner was singer-songwriter Ben Howard,
who picked up two of the dotted statuettes designed by Damien
Hirst, for British breakthrough act and British male solo.
Among the most popular triumphs was that of Frank Ocean,
American R&B star who beat acts including Bruce
Springsteen and Jack White to land the international male
solo artist prize.
"Before this year I didn't get me any trophies in my life and
I'm definitely a long way from working fast food in New
Orleans," he told the audience, referring to his humble
upbringing before breaking into the musical mainstream.
Devon rockers Muse got the annual awards ceremony off to a
rousing start with "Supremacy", complete with fireworks and a
full orchestra standing on balconies behind them.
Justin Timberlake wore a tuxedo to perform "Mirrors",
continuing his pop comeback ahead of the March release of
"The 20/20 Experience", his first album since 2006.
Taylor Swift donned a white, floating gown for "I Knew You
Were Trouble" before an instant change into a figure-hugging
black outfit complete with skimpy shorts and knee-length
One Direction received one of the loudest screams of the
night as they took to the stage to sing charity single "One
Way Or Another", which has reached No. 1 in 60 countries,
underlining their status as global stars.
In recognition of that international reach, they were
honoured with the BRITs global success award.
James Corden, the comedian hosting the ceremony, made joking
reference to One Direction's Harry Styles and his highly
public love life.
"Sharon Osbourne is here, Annie Lennox is here. Who have you
got your eye on?" Corden asked.
Styles, seated along with his bandmates at a dinner table in
a room packed with hundreds of other stars and industry
bigwigs, smiled sheepishly and hid his face behind an awards
Robbie Williams, who has won a record-breaking 12 BRIT Awards
as a solo artist, sang "Candy", and Mumford & Sons,
winners of the British group award, performed "I Will Wait".
In the most hotly contested best album category, Sande had
been up against Mumford & Sons for "Babel", Alt-J ("An
Awesome Wave"), Paloma Faith ("Fall to Grace") and Plan B
Sande's was Britain's best-selling album in 2012, but the
ongoing slump in CD sales last year loomed over what should
be a celebration of the vibrant state of the country's pop
According to official figures, overall British album sales
fell 11.2 percent to 100.5 million in 2012, despite a rise of
nearly 15 percent in digital album sales.
While digital downloads account for an increasing share of
record label revenues, the bulk still comes from physical
CDs, and the steady decline blamed on online piracy and a
shift towards buying singles online is a major concern.
Adele added to her groaning trophy cabinet with the best
single award for James Bond theme "Skyfall". She was in Los
Angeles rehearsing for her performance at the Oscars ceremony
on Sunday and so was unable to collect the trophy in person.
American singer Lana Del Rey scooped the international female
award, while Coldplay pipped The Rolling Stones to the best
live act prize.
Veteran rockers the Stones were shortlisted after returning
to the stage for a short, sellout tour of London and the
United States at the end of 2012 to mark 50 years in the
business. The last time they were nominated for a BRIT was in