Brits 2014: The real winners and losers
- 20 February 2014
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
It was a night of tears, beers, hopes and fears (and balloons). More importantly, the 2014 Brit Awards put some of the sparkle back into the show after a rather lacklustre 2013.
Arctic Monkeys won two awards, as did One Direction, who described themselves as "a bit drunk".
But an absent David Bowie stole the show, being named best British male a brief 30 years after he last won the prize - that time, when he was up against Cliff Richard and Paul Young.
But there is more to the Brits than the trophies.
So on a night of celebration, disappointment, costume changes and "challenging" hairdos, who were the real winners and losers?
Best toilet break
As One Direction raced toward the stage to collect their first prize of the night (Global Success), eagle-eyed fans may have spotted they'd been reduced to a quartet.
"Has anyone seen the curly haired lad?" asked Liam Payne. "I don't know where you are, Harry."
About half-way through the band's acceptance speech, Mr Styles came hurtling up a runway to the podium and admitted: "I'm really sorry, I was having a wee."
"What did we win?"
Strangest red carpet appearance
It was a two-way fight between dance band Clean Bandit, whose cellist Grace Chatto brought a handbag filled with live fish, and a fake Daft Punk duo wearing robot helmets and underpants.
As the latter were hastily escorted off the premises, it became a technical win for Clean Bandit.
Humblest acknowledgement of pop history
"This is the same red carpet Freddie Mercury walked on," said Pharrell Williams, prior to the show. "It's the same red carpet Elton John still walks on.
"I'm just honoured to be a molecule in that universe."
Best dress with pockets in it
As the temperature plunged on the red carpet, Ellie Goulding stuffed her hands into the cunningly concealed pockets of her Cinderella-style peach ballgown.
"I wish everything had pockets," she declared. "Good old Vivienne Westwood."
Most eloquent acceptance speech
Let's be honest, most of the night's speeches were disastrously banal, typified by Rudimental, who screamed: "Make some noise!" The crowd duly made some noise.
So thank goodness for Arctic Monkeys' singer Alex Turner, who riffed a monologue on the fate of rock music.
"That rock and roll - it just won't go away. It might hibernate from time to time and sink back into the swamp.
"I think the cyclical nature of the universe in which it exists demands it adheres to some of its rules, but it's always waiting there just around the corner, ready to make its way back through the sludge and smash through the glass ceiling, looking better than ever.
"Yeah, that rock and roll, it seems like its fading away sometimes, but it will never die.
"And there's nothing you can do about it."
Most contradictory advice to first timers
Lily Allen: "Don't drink until the show is over."
Kylie Minogue: "Have a champagne, take the edge off."
Most improved artist
Nineteen-year-old Ella Eyre shared the award for Best British Single with Rudimental, thanks to her vocal performance on the number one single Waiting All Night.
She also got to belt it out in front of Beyonce, Pharrell and Katy Perry, during one of the night's most incendiary performances.
All told, it was a big leap from the last time she attended the Brits, "on a school trip, two or three years ago".
"I got to see Adele perform Someone Like You," she told the BBC.
"I just recently found the video I took that year and all I could hear was myself crying in the background.
"It's quite sad, but it shows you how emotionally connected she was. It was absolutely beautiful."
Least surprising winner
"And the winner, somewhat predictably, is Sir David Bowie," said Noel Gallagher, giving Ziggy Stardust a Brit for best male and, apparently, a knighthood at the same time.
But the most foreseeable winner was also the least surprising absentee. Having quietly refused all media invitations since his musical comeback last year, Bowie accepted his prize via the medium of Kate Moss - who was furnished with a reliably bonkers note to read.
"David has asked me to say this," said the supermodel. "In Japanese myth, the rabbits on my old costume that Kate's wearing live on the moon. Kate comes from Venus, and I from Mars, so that's nice.
"I'm completely delighted to have a Brit for being the best male... But I am, aren't I, Kate?
"I think it's a great way to end the day. Thank you very much - and Scotland, stay with us."
That would have to be Beyonce, whose unbilled, stripped-back performance of XO was undoubtedly the night's most flawless vocal.
But she didn't hang about to bask in the glory - throwing a puffa jacket over her sequinned dress and heading straight for the airport, posting photos of her departure on Instagram before the ceremony was even finished.
She just flew in, killed it, then fled. Classy.
Pharrell Williams, who wore no socks - no matter how many times he changed his outfit. I hope he had clean insoles in those loafers.
Most sudden break-up in pop history
Within half an hour of winning the best breakthrough prize, Bastille's frontman Dan Smith announced he intended to give it all up.
"Now we can retire and give up music and go and work in McDonald's like we always planned."
The honorary James Corden award for outstanding endurance
Presenting the Brits is no easy task and James Corden has been at the helm for five years.
He had some shaky moments along the way - cutting off Adele's speech in 2012, and interrupting Prince to take an excruciatingly awkward selfie (above).
But he's also been a passionate advocate of British music, and rebutted claims the Brits had lost its edge since Jarvis Cocker's infamous stage invasion in the 1990s.
"When people talk about Jarvis Cocker and things like that, those were also the years when Hear'Say played Pure and Simple and Blue won awards, so I'm not entirely sure which Brits they're remembering," he told the BBC.
So, on balance, he deserves a prize for long service - and for knowing when to give up.
"I think it's a show that should always evolve and feel fresh," he told the BBC. "And I could do without this feeling in my stomach."
As for his replacement? "I'd love to see Jack Whitehall do it, or Idris Elba would be brilliant. I'm just pleased I don't have to make that decision."
Disclosure set sail from the O2 on a party boat; Nile Rodgers and Chic played into the night in Soho; and Sony Music gave away headphones and make-up to their guests in Mayfair.
But Rudimental had simpler plans.