Ed Sheeran Dancing, a Smashed Lambo & 50 Santas: What You Didn't See at the 2018 BRIT Awards
The 2018 BRIT Awards roared back to life with a raucous, chaotic and often surreal show at the O2 Arena in London Wednesday night — and PEOPLE was there to see it all.
Here’s what you may have missed on TV:
Before Justin Timberlake opened the show, he first urged the audience to get on their feet — and they totally responded. Ed Sheeran and Beauty and the Beast star Luke Evans were among those dancing to “Midnight Summer Jam.”
Timberlake — who firmly put his controversial Super Bowl Halftime show behind him with an outstanding performance — followed up with a show-stopping duet of “Say Something” alongside country star Chris Stapleton. Midway through, hundreds of dancers quietly slipped into the arena before suddenly springing to life at the climax of the song.
Moments later the cheers turned to audible gasps as up-and-coming grime artist Stormzy produced the biggest shock of the night by claiming the best British male award over global superstar Sheeran. A huge favorite with his home London crowd, Stormzy put his head in his hands after his name was announced, while a group of friends sprang to their feet to congratulate him — with one running around a couple of tables to leap on his back in celebration.
Yet the most surreal moments of the night belonged to the Foo Fighters: First, the band collected the award for best international group while the stage around them slowly filled with bikini-wearing dancers in preparation for British dance star Dua Lipa; they later topped this by climbing onto the roof of a hastily erected ski lodge to sing “The Sky Is a Neighborhood” on top of a fireside lounge and surrounded by fake fir trees.
Midway through the song a group of 50 Santas also made their way through the bleachers to the seats at the side of the stage — with no explanation given until they were much later announced as the “North Korean Winter Olympic Cheerleading Team” by BRITs host, comedian Jack Whitehall.
Yet the BRITs weren’t entirely about fun. Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher paid an emotional tribute to the victims of the Manchester bombing with an acoustic version of “Live Forever.” An iconic song in the UK, it brought the entire crowd to its feet in a sweet, heart-wrenching singalong in honor of the 22 music fans murdered at the Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017, along with the 116 who suffered injuries.
The show wasn’t entirely hitch-free either. While Elton John appeared on video to pay tribute to Sheeran ahead of him claiming the global success award, an orange Lamborghini in a perspex box was wheeled onto the stage with Kendrick Lamar lying on top.
The rapper remained in position for around five minutes while Rolling Stone guitarist Ronnie Wood presented the trophy to Sheeran – who had earlier sung “Supermarket Flowers” with a band on his ring finger. Then a mini-disaster struck: Lamar’s backing track cut out after a couple of seconds and he was left stranded on the stage with no music for around 15 seconds while his backing singers waited slightly awkwardly in the wings.
The backing track then started and cut out again — twice — prompting the audience to start asking “Is this meant to happen?” Host Whitehall also got on stage and prepared himself to suddenly take over the reigns when the backing track suddenly cut in and Lamar, who earlier won best international male, burst into life with “FEEL.” and his Rich the Kid collaboration “New Freezer.”
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With stage props exploding and huge flames bursting into the sky high above the backing singers, however, it was always something of an unnerving show — particularly as Rich The Kid set about smashing the sports car to bits with a baseball bat.
This slightly chaotic theme continued to the end. After walking onstage to collect best British album from Nile Rodgers, Stormzy — who had spent 10 minutes being congratulated by his entire family after winning his first award of the night — walked off the stage without the Chic star, leaving Rodgers to wander off on his own.
Thankfully, Stormzy redeemed himself with a triumphant closing performance that combined flames, fireworks and rain — and ended with him dancing shirtless around the stage, inspiring thousands in the audience to dance with him.
The message of the BRITs 2018: A new star is born (amid the chaos).