The Brit Awards 2021 will be more of a reboot than a recap for the UK music industry.
As well as highlighting the major albums and artists of the past year, the London ceremony, which will take place on May 11, is set to be one of the first major musical events held in the UK with a physical audience.
The event will feature performances by Coldplay, Dua Lipa and The Weeknd, while a record number of women have been nominated for the British Album of the Year award.
More than glitter and glamor, this year’s ceremony aims to put the UK music scene back on the map after a quieter year.
Here are five things you need to know about the event.
1. There will be an audience
No more price reductions resembling intimate cocktails.
The Brit Awards are going strong this year. It will take place at the O2 Arena in London, which hosts numerous concerts by nominees including Coldplay and Dua Lipa.
Although the venue can accommodate up to 20,000 people, the ceremony will accommodate a maximum of 4,000 people.
All participants are required to have a rapid diagnostic test (a nasal or throat swab similar to a PCR test) within 36 hours before the event, followed by a PCR test on the day of the ceremony and another test five days later.
Once pre-show testing returns negative results, attendees will have access to the venue and take their seats, with no social distancing requirements and no facial coverage required.
However, masks must be worn at all times in the common areas of the arena, including the lobby and washrooms.
2. Who will play?
The last time the arena hosted a concert crowd was in March 2020 for a show by American rapper Nelly.
The venue aims to come back to life with a dazzling display of the power of British stars through live performances by Dua Lipa, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Arlo Parks, Headie One and Griff.
However, two of the biggest performances are said to have been pre-recorded outside the arena.
Coldplay will present a new single Higher power on a pontoon on the Thames, while Canadian star The Weeknd films his contribution to North America.
3. Who is nominated?
The Brit Awards have been criticized over the years for a lack of gender diversity among its nominees.
Dua Lipa called organizers on stage at the 2018 Best British Woman award ceremony and last year the ceremony faced a backlash due to the all-male shortlist for Album of the Year .
The comments have been heard and this year, in an unprecedented move, four women are nominated for UK Album of the Year. Singers Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware, Arlo Parks and Celeste are joined by rapper J Hus in contention for the biggest prize of the night.
RnB singer Lianne La Havas also joins the four women for the award for best British woman. Best British Male is a brawl between AJ Tracey, Headie One, J Hus, Joel Corry and Yungblud.
The most intriguing battle of the night will be that of the best British single, with Dua Lipa (Physical) and Harry Styles (Watermelon sugar) among the eight nominees, while Little Mix, 1975 and Biffy Clyro are also nominated for the award for best British group.
For non-UK categories, K-pop supergroup BTS, Foo Fighters and Haim are up for Best International Group, while this year’s Grammy Queen Taylor Swift is joined by Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish as than nominated for the best international woman.
The International Male category is home to the most eclectic nominees, with veteran American rocker Bruce Springsteen, Nigerian afro-pop artist Burna Boy, American rapper Childish Gambino, Australian indie band Tame Impala and The Weeknd.
4. Not one, but two prizes each
The Brit Awards have a esteemed history with figures like Vivienne Westwood and Zaha Hadid having designed trophies in the past.
For the first time, this year’s commission was given to two designers: Es Devlin and Yinka Ilori from London.
The first and largest statue has earthy colors paying homage to the Nigerian heritage of British designer Ilori. The smaller statue is engraved in a maze motif intended to illustrate the interdependence of the UK’s creative industries.
With each winner receiving both trophies, Devlin encourages the recipients to give the smallest honor “to someone they deem worthy”.
5. Where to watch it from home?
UK audiences can stream the ceremony on ITV from 8 p.m. GMT (11 p.m. UAE time), while international viewers can watch the live stream on YouTube.
For more details and a full list of nominees, visit the Brit Awards website.
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