It is typically the most wild night in the showbiz calendar – laden with boozy bashes and raucous displays.
Yet the 2021 BRIT Awards – like all big scale events to come – were certainly different this year, although that did not stop the stars having a wild time, with Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall leading the way in sensational style alongside Taylor Swift, Haim, Lewis Capaldi and Maya Jama, who documented the frolics on social media.
The evening saw the band, who are the most nominated girl band in BRIT Award history, finally bag the title of Best British Group and made history as the first-ever girl band to win – which they marked with a poignant speech about male dominance and the struggles of being women in the music industry.
Joined in a car by her pregnant bandmates Perrie Edwards, 27, and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, 29, who both announced their baby news within the past fortnight, Jade, 28, was raising her fingers at the camera and going wild.
Woah! The 2021 BRIT Awards – like all big scale events to come – were certainly different this year, yet that did not stop the stars having a wild time, with Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall leading the way in sensational style
In their speech, the trio said: ‘It’s not easy being a female in the U.K. pop industry. We’ve seen 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…
‘The fact that a girl band has never won this award really does speak volumes, so this award isn’t just for us, it’s for the Spice Girls, Sugababes, All Saints, Girls Aloud, all of the incredible female bands. This one’s for you!’
Joining in the fun was Maya Jama who was partying up a storm with Lewis Capaldi, as the pair took to Instagram to share a selfie showing the fun was rolling after the ceremony.
She later snapped selfies with Nick Grimshaw and posed up a storm with former professional footballer and TV host Alex Scott, who professed she is ‘here for a good time not a long time’.
Bringing the stateside fun was Haim and Taylor, who clutched drinks while intertwined in a knot for a snap.
Rock on! Joined in a car by her pregnant bandmates Perrie Edwards, 27, and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, 29, who both announced their baby news within the past fortnight, Jade, 28, was raising her fingers at the camera
At last! The evening saw the band, who are the most nominated girl band in BRIT Award history, finally bag the title of British Group and made history as the first-ever girl band to win – which they marked with a poignant speech about the male patriarchy and the struggles of being women in the industry
Little Minx! Jade was not holding back as she rocked out for the camera while Perrie covered her face
Happy days: Joining in the fun was Maya Jama who was partying up a storm with Lewis Capaldi, as the pair took to Instagram to share a selfie showing the fun was rolling after the ceremony
Living it up: She later snapped selfies with Nick Grimshaw and posed up a storm with former professional footballer and TV host Alex Scott, who professed she is ‘here for a good time not a long time’
Never to be outdone, Gemma Collins was making the most of her night on the town as she partied in a corporate box with Roman Kemp and Tallia Storm while sipping on Dom Pérignon – which averages around £130 a bottle.
Earlier in the night, the stars were out to make statements.
Leading the way was Dua Lipa, who paid a moving tribute to the young hero Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, as she accepted the top prize for Best Album, while Taylor made history by taking home the Global Icon Award and host Jack Whitehall made some cheeky jokes about the great and good of the showbiz world.
The One Kiss singer, 25, dedicated the prestigious award to the rescuer known as Jimi and called for the hero to receive a Bravery Award after he tragically lost his life while attempting to save a woman who jumped into the River Thames from London Bridge last month.
Dua also scooped the Female Solo Artist prize and honoured nurse and healthcare administrator Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, 74, who helped set up the first Sickle Cell centre in the UK, for her work during her acceptance speech, and urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘a message’ that frontline staff deserved a pay rise.
Living it up: Bringing the stateside fun was Haim and Taylor, who clutched drinks while intertwined in a knot for a snap
Feeling silly girls? Taylor was also seen pulling silly faces while living it up with Olivia Rodrigo
Over the moon! Just days after announcing their pregnancies, Leigh-Anne and Perrie took to the stage with Jade to accept the coveted prize, paying tribute to former bandmate Jesy Nelson
In what was her second win of the night, Dua was stunned to accept the award for Best Album for Future Nostalgia, and dedicated her award to young Jimi after his tragic death last month.
She said: ‘I want to honour this award also to Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, or Jimi as he’s known by his friends and family, and Joaquin Garcia. Jimi and Joaquin heroically attempted to rescue a woman who’d fallen from London Bridge, and tragically Jimi did not survive.
‘Jimi and Joaquin knowingly put themselves in danger, and they did it without hesitation even though they were a stranger to each other and to the woman they were rescuing.
‘It would be really fitting if their actions were recognised with a bravery award, and I hope this can happen to give Jimi’s family some comfort. This award is for Jimi and Joaquin. Jimi, you’ve touched the hearts of a whole nation and we will never forget you.’
Do it! She said: ‘I think what we should do is give a massive round of applause and give Boris a message that we all support a pay rise for our frontline!’
Who are the heroes Dua Lipa mentioned in her Brits speech?
Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, 20 (pictured) tragically lost his life while attempting to save a woman who jumped into the River Thames from London Bridge last month
Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, 20, was known as Jimi to his friends and died after courageously jumping into the River Thames to try and rescue a fallen woman.
He was one of two people who stepped up to try and help her and dived into the water on April 24 just after midnight after he saw what had happened.
Emergency services were able to pull the woman and the other man who jumped in from the river alive, but were unable to find Mr Olubunmi-Adewole.
It has since emerged that Folajimi was also connected to the charity Malcolm’s World Foundation, which was set up by the parents of his cousin Malcolm Mide-Madaiola, a pupil from the same school who was murdered at the age of 17 in 2018 for protecting a friend near Clapham Tube station.
Jimi’s father Michael Adewola, 63, and his mother Olasunkanmi Adewole, 54, said they are proud of their son for trying to save another person’s life – but they are devastated by his death.
Dame Elizabeth Anionwu with Janet Jackson receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Pride of Britain ceremony
Dame Elizabeth Anionwu
Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, 73, is the nursing guru who helped set up the first Sickle Cell centre in the UK.
He had decided to become a nurse at the young age of four because, whilst she was in care.
She started work for the NHS as a school nurse assistant in Wolverhampton at the age of 16.
Her life’s work was with black and minority ethnic communities in London, explaining ‘People from diverse cultures are not always valued and still sometimes just seen as problems’.
In 1979, she helped to create the first nurse-led UK Sickle & Thalassaemia Screening and Counselling Centre in Brent.
In July 2018, as part of the celebrations for the 70th Anniversary of the National Health Service, Elizabeth was included in the list of the 70 most influential nurses and midwives in the history of the NHS.
I’m in shock! Dame Elizabeth voiced her joy at the tribute from Dua
Dua certainly proved to be the star of the evening as she took to the stage to kick off the ceremony with a medley of her hits, which began as she made her way to the O2 on the Underground at Charing Cross station.
The hitmaker delivered a medley of her hits Physical, Pretty Please, Hallucinate and Don’t Start Now in a Union Jack inspired ensemble, after channelling Amy Winehouse with her eye-catching look on the red carpet.
It was a night to remember for Dua as she also took to the stage to accept the award for Female Solo Artist, and used the opportunity to share the prize with nurse Dame Elizabeth Anionwu.
She said: ‘This is sick, wow thank you so much, it’s such an honour to be here it’s such an honour to be back on this stage. Last time when I was up accepting this award in 2018, I wanted to see more women on these stages, and I’m so proud three years later to be part of this wave of women in music.
‘To my family and friends for all their support I’m so grateful and I feel so so licky, I think this is such an incredible invite to give another part of your award to someone and I’ve chosen my favourite British female is Dame Elizabeth Anionwu
Touching: The Physical hitmaker, who also scooped the award for British Female Solo Artist, dedicated her award to the rescuer known as Jimi, calling for him to be honoured with a Bravery Award
‘She has spent her stellar nursing career fighting racial injustice. She has spent so much time and is a strong advocate for protecting frontline workers, thank you.
‘She has also said that there is a massive disparity between love and respect for frontline workers, because we need to clap them but we need to pay them, so I think what we should do is give a massive round of applause and give Boris a message that we all support a pay rise for our frontline!’
Taylor also made history at the end of the evening as she accepted the Global Icon Award, the first time in history a female artist had been presented with the honour.
The Fearless singer was praised by many of her fellow stars, including longtime friends Selana Gomez, Ed Sheeran and music legend Annie Lennox for her incredible collection of music.
Here she is! Taylor also made history at the end of the evening as she accepted the Global Icon Award, the first time in history a female artist had been presented with the honour
Taylor took to the stage to accept the award – becoming the first woman to do so in the show’s history – when she gave a blink-and-you’ll miss it nod to her British actor beau Joe Alwyn, 30.
While thanking a long list of friends and collaborators, the American beauty briefly paused, before smiling and simply acknowledging ‘Joe’ for his support.
She said: ‘That video, anyone who was in that video, Selena, Zoe, Ed, Griff and my soul left my body when Annie Lennox appeared. I’m really prould to be part of this musical community, but what we really needed was the help and support of the NHS thank you for everything you’d done for us.
How did BRIT Awards go ahead during the Covid pandemic?
The 2021 BRIT Awards marked the first live music event in the UK since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The indoor ceremony and live show formed part of the Government’s scientific Events Research Programme.
Enhanced testing approaches will examine how events can take place without the need for social distancing after all restrictions are lifted on June 21.
4,000 tickets were made available for the live ceremony, just one fifth of the venue’s 20,000 capacity, with 2,500 of those being given to key workers.
The BRITs will play an important role in paving the way for the return of live music at scale as the UK emerges from the past year’s restrictions.
Audience members were not socially distanced or required to wear face coverings once seated inside the arena, though they were required in communal areas such as the toilet or main concourse.
All attendees were allowed to purchase alcohol and concessions once inside the O2 Arena.
Attendees were also required to follow existing Government guidance when travelling to the venue and adhere to rules set out by the event organisers.
Among the rules, attendees had to provide proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter the venue, and said test had to be taken at an asymptomatic testing site within 36 hours of the ceremony.
Upon arrival at the venue, all attendess were asked to take a PCR test, and will then take another test five days after the ceremony
It’s hoped this will gather further evidence on the safety of indoor settings, reduced social distancing and the removal of non-pharmaceutical interventions like face coverings.
‘I am so indebted and grateful to my British fans, I love you so much for everything you’d done for me, we’ve had so many amazing memories in the last 15 years, from playing Shepherd’s Bush Empire, to Wembley Stadium, to the O2 Arena, and because of you last year I almost played Glastonbury!
Noting the Covid pandemic, which brought much of the world to a halt, Taylor continued: ‘We all know what happened next, the world changed, and I ended up putting out three albums instead. Making Folklore and Evermore was the most unique experience I’ve ever had.
‘I want to thank my friends and family who know exactly who they are. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is you have to look around everyday.
‘Never take them for granted, there are so many incredible new artists in this room tonight, and so many people watching who ahve goals and dreams and ambisiton for themselves.
‘We live in a world where anyone has the right to say anything they want about you at any time, but please remember that you have the right to prove them wrong, I love you so much thank you so much for this beautiful honour, this is amazing.’
Comedian Jack Whitehall was once again tasked with hosting the awards, and as ever he didn’t disappoint with a slew of jibes and tongue-in-cheek jokes.
These included a cheeky reference to singer Rita and her London party which breached lockdown rules back in November, during a sea shanty with The Wellerman creator Nathan Evans, by singing: ‘It’s a Party Fit for Rita Ora.’
But the night wasn’t without gaffes, as Jack was noticeably muted by show bosses after appeared to drop the first expletive of the evening, despite the scenes airing after the 9pm watershed.
The comic could later be heard shouting ‘s**t’ during an interview with International Group winner Haim, after he praised the trio for travelling to England specifically for the ceremony.
Lewis Capaldi proved to be the viral sensation of the night, as he proceeded to drop multiple f-bombs as he presented the final award of the night, Best British Album.
He began: ”I’m f***ing s-‘ before being muted by ITV bosses, later continuing: ‘Sorry, I was reading off a card here – ”how is everyone doing?”
What did he say? Lewis Capaldi proved to be the viral sensation of the night, as he proceeded to drop multiple f-bombs as he presented the final award of the night, Best British Album
At the end of his speech he added: ‘Some good s***’ sparking a hysterial reaction from fans who praised his hilarious appearance.
Ahead of Coldplay’s opening performance, host Jack received a grilling from the Line Of Duty duo Vicky McClure and Martin Compston about who would be kicking off the ceremony.
But despite channelling their AC-12 alter-agos, the funnyman failed to spill the beans, meaning the pair had to call in reinforcements – Handforth Parish Council’s Jackie Weaver.
Despite Jack’s insistence she ‘didn’t have the authority,’ Jackie furiously terminated their video chat, before beginning the live awards show.
Tell us! Ahead of Coldplay’s opening performance, Jack received a grilling from the Line Of Duty duo Vicky McClure and Martin Compston about who would be kicking off the ceremony
Showman! Coldplay then kicked off the show with an incredible pre-recorded performance on the River Thames of their single Higher Power from a barge in front of the O2
New release: Higher Power features on Coldplay’s new album which is called Music Of The Spheres, another reference to space and life beyond Earth
Coldplay then kicked off the show with an incredible pre-recorded performance on the River Thames of their single Higher Power from a barge in front of the O2.
Going on all out for the opening act, Coldplay opted for futuristic dancing holograms and sparkling fireworks for the showcase, which was filmed outside the O2 last month.
The performance included the use of jaw-dropping holograms, adding to the sci-fi theme after the band unveiled their new single last week by streaming it on board the Internation Space Station.
Harry Styles also earned a thunderous reaction from his die-hard fans when he was awarded Best British Single for his hit Watermelon Sugar.
Paying homage: Levitating hitmaker Dua’s choice of ensemble hearkened back to Geri Horner’s headline-making patriotic minidress, which she wore as she performed at the same awards show some 24 years ago, back in 1997 (left)
Over the moon: Up first was the award for British Breakthrough Artist, awarded to Arlo Parks, who gushed that ‘dreams do come true’ after thanking her loved ones for helping encourage her to reach the prestigious honour
Big star! Harry Styles also earned a thunderous reaction from his die-hard fans when he was awarded Best British Single for his hit Watermelon Sugar
The former One Direction star, who is in the midst of filming the 1950s drama My Policeman, took to the stage in an eye-catching brown suit, avoiding a run-in with his ex-girlfriend Taylor at the awards.
He said: ‘Thank you so much, it’s I just continue to be baffled by moments like this that make me more and mre incredible gateful to be able to do this job every day.
‘I’m really happy and prud to be celebrating British music tonight, I want to thank my fans for being so generous to me always and everyone who has my back thank you so much.’
Fans were quick to take to Twitter after Harry’s acceptance speech as they questioned why he was talking in an American accent, while others pointed out that the star has just finished filming his movie Don’t Worry Darling in America.
Confused: Fans were quick to take to Twitter after Harry’s acceptance speech as they questioned why he was talking in an American accent
We are the winners! International Group was given to Haim, who attended the ceremony in person after spending 10 days in quarantine to accept their award
One person said: ‘Wtf was Harry Styles’ accent!? Since when was he American!? #brits2021.’ A different fan put: ‘My mum just asked why Harry was talking with an American accent at the Brits.’
Another follower questioned: ‘Why has Harry Styles turned American? #brits2021.’
However, one loyal fan was quick to point out: ‘Harry sounds American because he just finished filming an movie where he has to use an American accent.’
British Breakthrough Artist was awarded to Arlo Parks, who gushed that ‘dreams do come true’ after thanking her loved ones for helping encourage her to reach the prestigious honour.
Thanks! Male Solo Artist was given to J Hus, who was unable to attend to accept the award, with DJ Semtex taking to the stage in his place
Lady in red: Olivia Rodrigo was a vision in a beautiful red gown as she delivered a stunning performance of her chart-topping hit Drivers Licence
Male Solo Artist was given to J Hus, who was unable to attend to accept the award, with DJ Semtex taking to the stage in his place.
He said: ‘Shout out to AJ Tracey, Headie One, all the artist in the building tonight. I’m gonna take my time and get this right, I don’t wanna end up as a meme tomorrow.
‘I’m here today because J Hus couldn’t make it, I’m here to accept the award on behalf of J Hus. He’s an incredible artist, one of the greatest. He makes music that makes our days that little bit easier, our lives that little bit easier.
‘If he was here tonight, I know he’d want to big up his family, he’d want to big up his friends and his team. All the fans who’ve been with him from day one, I know he’d want to big up militarians worldwide.
Breathtaking performance: : Griff captured the audience’s attention as she put on a rousing performance of Black Hole
Winning big: It proved to be a victorious night for Griff, who picked up the coveted Rising Star award after her performance
‘If he was here tonight, he might say something like, ‘Heavy duty don’t hide the beauty’. If J Hus was here tonight, I know he would definitely say, ‘Are you stronger today than you were yesterday?’. So everybody, wherever you are right now, show some appreciation for J Hus!’
International Female Artist was presented to Billie Eilish, who lamented being unable to attend the occasion after her stellar performance of No Time To Die at last year’s ceremony.
She said: ‘I love you so much this is an honour, the BRITs were so magical for me last year, I can’t wait to come back, thank you.’
Griff captured the audience’s attention as she put on a rousing performance of Black Hole, in what proved to be proved to be a victorious night for the star as she picked up the coveted Rising Star award after her performance.
International Male Artist saw a surprise appearance from former First Lady Michelle Obama, who presented the prize to The Weeknd, just minutes after he appeared to take inspiration from the UK’s recent weather by performing in the pouring rain.
Performance: Also taking to the stage on the night were Elton John and Years & Years, who teamed up to perform the Pet Shop Boys classic It’s A Sin, after teasing the surprise collaboration on social media ahead of the show
Mutual fans: The Rocket Man hitmaker, 74, took to the stage with Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander, 30, after becoming a huge fan of Olly’s performance as Ritchie Tozer in Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin
Unexpected guest: Michelle Obama shocked fans with a surprise appearance at the Brit Awards to present The Weeknd with International Male Solo Artist
Virtual performance: Singer The Weeknd was also on hand to perform at the show, although he made his appearance virtually
High energy show: Young T & Bugsey, left, performed with grime star Headie One, right, during the star-studded ceremony
He said: ‘Thank you BRIT Awards I wish I was there to accept the award, I want to give a shout out to UK fans, if it wasn’t for them I wasn’t be standig here right now, for the people in Ethiopia who are suffering, you are in my heart.’
International Group was given to Haim, who attended the ceremony in person after spending 10 days in quarantine to accept their award.
Taking to the stage they gushed: ‘Oh my god sisters! This is incredible, this is INCREDIBLE, well I mean first ofall, let me get my bearings, first of all the UK was the first place to ever embrace us. In the entire world, and for that honestly we will be forever grateful this is crazy. I’m like shaking wow and usually I’m so composed.’
Closing show: Rag’n’Bone Man closed out the show with a rousing performance of his new track Anywhere Away From Here
Beamed performance: The musician was joined for the performance by his duet partner Pink, who was beamed onto the stage
Also taking to the stage on the night were Elton John and Years & Years, who teamed up to perform the Pet Shop Boys classic It’s A Sin, after teasing the surprise collaboration on social media ahead of the show.
The Rocket Man hitmaker, 74, took to the stage with Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander, 30, after becoming a huge fan of Olly’s performance as Ritchie Tozer in Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin.
Olly starred alongside a cast of rising stars and celebrated favourites including Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry and Neil Patrick Harris and It’s a Sin has been universally praised by fans.
The 2021 Brit Awards marked the first major indoor music event in over a year as bosses released 2,500 free tickets to key workers, taking place in front of a live audience totalling 4,000 people at London‘s The O2 six days before the next phase of lockdown lifts.
Divided: Jack was given the thumbs up from fans on Tuesday night while targeting a host of high-profile celebrities during his latest stint as host at the annual BRIT Awards
Jack was given the thumbs up from fans on Tuesday night while targeting a host of high-profile celebrities during his latest stint as host at the annual BRIT Awards.
Nothing was off-limits at the socially distanced event as Whitehall took aim at Rita Ora’s rule-breaking lockdown party, Tiger Woods’ driving ban, Olly Murs’ popularity and Taylor and Kanye West’s ongoing feud during a memorable night at the O2.
There was a further reference to Rita Ora in the altered lyrics, with the singer’s rule-breaking 30th birthday party coming back to haunt her despite being thousands of miles away in Australia while she films The Voice.
BRIT AWARDS WINNERS 2021
FEMALE SOLO ARTIST
DUA LIPA – WINNER
LIANNE LA HAVAS
MALE SOLO ARTIST
J HUS – WINNER
LITTLE MIX – WINNER
YOUNG T & BUGSEY
BRITs RISING STAR
GRIFF WARNER – WINNER
ARLO PARKS COLLAPSED IN SUNBEAMS
CELESTE NOT YOUR MUSE
DUA LIPA FUTURE NOSTALGIA – WINNER
J HUS BIG CONSPIRACY
JESSIE WARE WHAT’S YOUR PLEASURE?
HAIM – WINNER
RUN THE JEWELS
ARLO PARKS – WINNER
YOUNG T & BUGSEY
220 KID & GRACEY DON’T NEED LOVE
AITCH & AJ TRACEY FT TAY KEITH RAIN
DUA LIPA PHYSICAL
HARRY STYLES WATERMELON SUGAR – WINNER
HEADIE ONE FT AJ TRACEY & STORMZY AIN’T IT DIFFERENT
JOEL CORRY FT MNEK HEAD & HEART
NATHAN DAWE FT KSI LIGHTER
REGARD & RAYE SECRETS
S1MBA FT DTG ROVER PARLOPHONE
YOUNG T & BUGSEY FT HEADIE ONE DON’T RUSH
INTERNATIONAL FEMALE SOLO ARTIST
BILLIE EILISH – WINNER
INTERNATIONAL MALE SOLO ARTIST
TAME IMPALA FICTION
THE WEEKND – WINNER