Like Opportunity Knocks for the dubstep set, this rowdy affair pitched four differing soundsystems against each other in each corner of Wembley Arena and ranked them by audience decibels. Playing dance hits of the moment, reggae classics for that Carnival vibe, and “dubplates” – one-off productions of their own – they competed for the love of a crowd that dashed from one end of the room to the other like human tennis balls.
There were rules, dictated by hosts Tim Westwood and his fellow Radio 1Xtra presenter Gemma Cairney, and enforced by grime star Wiley’s Boy Better Know crew, who carped endlessly about perceived infractions by the gangs with the better tunes. With each bunch serving up 15-minute segments, the key was to keep things fast and furious. Floor fillers such as La Roux’s In for the Kill and MIA’s Paper Planes came and went in a blink. Only reggae veterans Channel One Soundsystem calmed things down with weighty dub from the vaults.
Major Lazer, led by Beyoncé and Rita Ora producer Diplo, were less popular with their rivals than the audience after pulling out all the tricks from the start including free vuvuzelas, their leader in an inflatable hamster ball and a version of reggae classic 54-46 That’s my Number featuring Toots Hibbert singing new lines including: “Big up Major Lazer”.
They also produced the biggest star guest in the final round, R&B giant Usher. While Annie Mac’s impressive entourage included Katy B, Ms Dynamite, Maverick Sabre and Example, it was Boy Better Know, with the help of Chip and Lethal Bizzle, who roused the biggest cheers and eventually took the crown, proving that sometimes those that shout the loudest get the greatest rewards.