Brit Awards 2021: all the winners and highlights from the night

Coldplay, Elton John and Dua Lipa were among the stars to perform as the biggest night in British music took place at London's O2 Arena

An audience of more than 4,000 people returned to London’s O2 Arena on Tuesday for the Brit Awards, the biggest night in British music.

The event marked a return of live music after extensive lockdowns in England, with performances from Dua Lipa, Coldplay and Elton John.

It was also a historic night for women, as about 85 per cent of the mixed gender awards were won by female artists.

Here are five of the biggest takeaways from the evening:

Dua Lipa calls for a pay rise for NHS staff

Dua Lipa used her Brit Awards acceptance speech to call on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to give frontline NHS staff a “fair pay rise”.

The singer made the plea as she accepted her award for Best British Female Solo Artist, in front of a crowd that included a large number of frontline workers. The comment received a standing ovation.

Dua Lipa calls on Boris Johnson to give frontline NHS workers a pay rise as she accepts her British Album award at the Brits. AFP 
Dua Lipa calls on Boris Johnson to give frontline NHS workers a pay rise as she accepts her Brit Award. AFP

This year, all Brit Award winners were given two statues – one for themselves and one to give to someone they admire. Lipa announced that she would be giving her second statue to British nurse and academic Dame Elizabeth Anionwu.

“She has spent her stellar nursing career fighting racial injustice,” Lipa said. “She is also a strong advocate for protecting frontline workers. She has said there’s a massive disparity between gratitude and respect for frontline workers, because it’s very good to clap for them but we need to pay them.

“So I think what we should do is we should all give a massive, massive round of applause and give Boris a message that we all support a fair pay rise for our front line.”

The Brits’ first Zoom performance

While many stars took to the stage at the O2 Arena on Tuesday night, one performance happened in a way we have all become familiar with over the past year. The Weeknd made history with the Brits’ first Zoom performance, with a special streamed rendition of hit single Save Your Tears. While it may have been online, the performance did not lack the usual grandeur associated with the Brits, as the singer stood beneath a torrential downpour, ahead of accepting his award for Best International Male Solo Artist.

A winning night for women

After heavy criticism in 2020 that the Brit Awards had only nominated one woman in a possible 25 slots across its mixed gender categories, at Tuesday night’s event women reigned supreme, with Arlo Parks winning Best British Breakthrough Artist and Griff taking home the Rising Star award.

A night of historic firsts

Taylor Swift accepts the Global Icon award during the Brit Awards 2021 at the O2 Arena, in London, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (Ian West/PA via AP)
Taylor Swift accepts the Global Icon award at the Brit Awards 2021. AP

Taylor Swift and Little Mix were also among the female winners of the night, each of whom made history with their awards. Swift took home the Global Icon prize, becoming the first woman to do so in the Brits' 44-year history. In her acceptance speech, she said: “If you’re being met with resistance, that probably means that you’re doing something new. If you experience turbulence and pressure, that probably means you’re rising.

"And there might be times when you put your whole heart and soul into something and it’s met with cynicism or scepticism. You can’t let that crush you. You have to let that fuel you.”

Little Mix became the first all-female group to be awarded Best British Group. In their acceptance speech, they made sure to thank their former bandmate Jesy Nelson, who left the group in December 2020.

“We have been together for 10 years. It’s been the best years of our lives, we’ve gone through so much together. We’ve had so much fun, made so many beautiful memories. We want to start by thanking our incredible fans, of course Jesy, and our amazing team,” Leigh-Anne Pinnock said.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards of Little Mix pose with their British Group award at the Brits. AFP
Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards of Little Mix pose with their Best British Group award at the Brits. AFP

Pinnock also touched on the sexism the band has experienced since starting out in the industry. “It’s not easy being a female in the UK pop industry. We’ve seen the white male dominance, misogyny, sexism and lack of diversity. We’re proud of how we’ve stuck together, stood our ground, surrounded ourselves with strong women, and are now using our voices more than ever.”

Triumphant performances

From Coldplay’s colourful barge on the River Thames to Elton John’s duet with Years & Years, the night quenched the UK’s thirst for live music in a big way. But among the superstar performances were also a number of live sets from up-and-coming British artists, shining the spotlight on rising talents such as Arlo Parks and Griff.

The ceremony also featured performances from Headie One, AJ Tracey and Young T & Bugsey, as well as Rag’n’Bone Man and Pink, who performed alongside the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir.

The full list of winners from the Brit Awards 2021

British Male Solo Artist

J Hus

British Female Solo Artist

Dua Lipa

British Group

Little Mix

Breakthrough Artist

Arlo Parks

British Album

Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa

International Female Solo Artist

Billie Eilish

International Male Solo Artist

The Weeknd

International Group

Haim

British Single

Watermelon Sugar, Harry Styles

Updated: May 12, 2021 02:24 PM

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