I watched the Brit Awards and was offended by the fact I wasn’t offended – SIMON CARTER

Pink performs on stage at the Brit Awards 2019
Pink performs on stage at the Brit Awards 2019

I WATCHED the Brit Awards last week and I was offended. Well, it’s 2019 and we’ve all got be offended by something, right? It’s the law, or so it seems to be.

What offended me? Jack Whitehall’s jokes, most of which fell spectacularly flat? Or his presenting style, which made me several times quip ‘bring back Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood, seriously all is forgiven’? Was it the sight of Daniel Sturridge, that well known musician … er, no, well-known Liverpool FC footballer? No, though I await Will.I.Am being asked to present the PFA Footballer of the Year award next month with interest …

Jack Whitehall ... bring back Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox, all is forgiven ...

Jack Whitehall ... bring back Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox, all is forgiven ...

Was it the cringe-worthy ‘interviews’ with Little Mix and Bros? Or the fact I had to wait until halfway through to hear some great music, albeit that was an advert promoting the film Bohemian Rhapsody during one of the commercial breaks...

No, it was none of that. I was offended because I WASN’T offended by anything I saw.

Surely it’s a rite of parental passage that we have to be outraged by the music our kids are listening to? It’s been that way virtually ever since September 9, 1956, when Elvis Presley made a hip-wiggling debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, the biggest programme on American television.

And so it continued …

Jorja Smith with her Best British Female Solo Artist Brit Award

Jorja Smith with her Best British Female Solo Artist Brit Award

From the Beatles, who offended thousands in the mid-1960s when John Lennon said the band were ‘bigger than Jesus’, and the BBC later banned Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds due to its supposed drug connotations …

… to David Bowie’s incredible appearance on Top of the Pops in 1972, when during his performance of Starman he cuddled guitarist Mick Ronson. It was a watershed moment for British pop, shattering a previously heterosexual industry and introducing androgyny into the mainstream …

… to the Sex Pistols appearing on Bill Grundy’s television show in 1976, being provoked into swearing at their host and causing one outraged dad watching at home to get up off his sofa and kick his TV screen in …

… to all the other sneering, gobbing punk rock bands that followed in the Pistols’ slipstream, though nobody did controversy better than Johnny Rotten and co - witness their God Save the Queen single in the year of Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee … ‘God save the Queen, the fascist regime … they made you a moron, potential H-bomb’ - incendiary lyrics at the best of times (but imagine them today!), and another record the BBC banned …

The Sex Pistols tearing an EMI poster after the announcement that they have split with their record company in 1977.

The Sex Pistols tearing an EMI poster after the announcement that they have split with their record company in 1977.

… to Frankie Goes to Hollywood in 1984, with (yet) another Beeb-banned single, Relax, causing moral outrage and frothing around the mouths of parents nationwide …

… to the glory days of hair rock heroes like Guns N Roses and Motley Crue, with America’s Second Lady Tipper Gore - wife of vice president Al - setting up the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) in 1985 to highlight songs or albums with violent, drug-taking or overtly-sexual themes. The LA band WASP copped most of Tipper’s flak, though by releasing singles titled Animal (I **** like a beast) they did not, in fairness, help their cause …

… to the late 80s and the appearance of acid house music and illegal rave parties becoming front page news in our national press. Here was another reason for parents to be outraged, and so what was new? Parents, after all, had been getting outraged because of musicians’ behaviour and lyrical content since 1956.

But that was then, and this is now. Now, watching the Brits, it was all just too nice. George Ezra, seems a nice boy. Shawn Mendes, ditto (despite posing in his underwear for Calvin Klein). Sam Fender, ditto. Calvin Harris, ditto. Rag N Bone man has a few too many tattoos for my liking, but he’s settled with a kid, a nice family man by all accounts, and Tipper Gore would leave his material well alone.

Calvin Harris with his Best British Single and Best British Producer Brit Awards

Calvin Harris with his Best British Single and Best British Producer Brit Awards

As for the girls, Jess Glynne, Dua Lipa and Jorga Smith seem controversy-free. Jack Whitehall described Little Mix as the biggest girl band in the world, but they’re by no means the best - Bananarama are still going, lest we forget (I’m not joking here!) Admittedly Pink, who won the Overall Contribution to Music award, is no stranger to addressing controversial topics in her songs, but let’s be honest - she’s not Madonna, who in the 1980s managed to infuriate religious communities by burning crosses in videos and portraying Jesus as a black man. If Twitter had existed in 1989 it would have endured a Chernobyl-type meltdown on release of the Like A Prayer video.

As for the songs performed on the Brits, Jorga Smith’s vocal was impressive but I can’t say anything else grabbed me. All too often - and this started with Hugh Jackman’s Greatest Showman opener - the songs were secondary to a startling cocktail of high energy dancing and accompanying visual backdrops including stunning light shows. Full marks to those involved in the choreography, you couldn’t fault that at all. Jess Glynne’s performance came complete with a group of women removing their makeup; visually, very impressive, but the song didn’t capture my interest. The only thing that would have made me kick in my TV screen was the fact the music was so instantly unforgettable.

I know, I know, the content of the Brits was not aimed at me. Jess Glynne, George Ezra and Little Mix aren’t writing for me, or my generation - I was 50 last month - they’re writing for my kids. And they are obviously very successful, I can see that. But I go back to where I started - today’s music is too sterile, too sanitised, too nice. The unsavoury edges have been smoothed away, and I blame Simon Cowell, but that’s another column for another day.

Why, even the programme lacked any controversial moments - no KLF-type firing blanks over the audience’s heads or leaving a dead sheep outside the entrance, no Jarvis Cocker-type stage invasions, no Chumbawamba-type water-related dousings of politicians, no overtly-political statements by award winners. Nothing like that, so nothing to be remotely offended about.

I never thought I’d be outraged by NOT being outraged, but the Brit Awards induced in me that feeling. I want my teenage son and daughter to show me bands with characters like Axl Rose, Slash, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Rotten in them, and I want to hear songs like God Save the Queen and Starman.

Basically, I want them to grow up knowing that music isn’t supposed to be ‘nice’. It’s supposed to be raw, challenging, edgy, thought-provoking, thrilling. Everything the Brits 2019 wasn’t.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jesy Nelson, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix with their Best British Video Brit Award and Tom Wallker with his Best British Breakthrough Act Brit Award.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jesy Nelson, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix with their Best British Video Brit Award and Tom Wallker with his Best British Breakthrough Act Brit Award.

Slightly ironic, isn’t it, that in today’s society where we’re all so easily offended by anything and everything, one thing that has routinely offended so many through so many generations just doesn’t offend any more ..