BBC Music Awards, Earls Court – Evening Standard, 12 Dec 2014

Eight years since Top of the Pops was dropped, the BBC wants to remind us that it really, really likes music. The love-in began with wall-to-wall Glastonbury coverage, continued with that all-star God Only Knows video in October, and culminated in the inaugural BBC Music Awards last night.

Strangely, there weren’t many awards — just four, two of which went to Pharrell Williams, who hadn’t shown up. His Song of the Year, Happy, came out in 2013. A third microphone-shaped trophy, for Best British Artist, went to Ed Sheeran, who performed his Pharrell co-write, Sing. Not ideal for an organisation seeking to trumpet its influence but it did prove that the votes were genuine.

All the major Brits were on show at least, from Sam Smith to Take That, One Direction to Coldplay, which will have infuriated the organisers of February’s BRIT Awards on ITV. This mainly seemed like an exercise in BRITs-antagonising, with live performances of most of 2014’s biggest singles, including Clean Bandit’s Rather Be, Coldplay’s A Sky Full of Stars and George Ezra’s Budapest — precisely the expected content of the rival show.

Unless the BRITs can rise above the pop fodder and persuade giants such as David Bowie, Kate Bush and perhaps Adele to attend, they are in danger of looking like an afterthought. Pop’s most recent highlights were summed up in a slick show covered in confetti, and although hardly anyone went home with an award, the crowd, like Pharrell, seemed happy.