It was sometime around 5pm on a drizzly February afternoon that the official BRITs Twitter account creamed its pants while relaying news that Liam Payne is due to perform with Rita Ora at this year’s ceremony. The tweet was delivered with such manic excitement we can only assume someone at BRITs HQ considers this something of a coup, or else they had an extra side of cocaine with their afternoon snack. But an Ora-Payne pairing isn’t just unsurprising (with Ora already confirmed as a performer and her latest release being that dud duet with everyone’s least favourite Direction), it’s also the most boring thing the BRITs could have conceived.
The BRITs has form for delivering bizarre and wildly entertaining duets. Who could forget Florence and Dizzee? Or Rihanna with Klaxons? With a list of nominees that’s uncharacteristically diverse, the BRITs have the chance to put on a hell of a show. Imagine Dua Lipa giving ‘New Rules’ an indie-pop makeover with a little help from alt-j. Picture Liam Gallagher introducing Lorde for a surprise mash-up of ‘Green Light’ and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Star’. Dare to dream of Drake and Jorja Smith recreating that infamous Justin Timberlake and Kylie bum-squeeze.
Instead, what we’ll get is a meat-and-gravy rendition of ‘For You‘, Ora’s and Payne’s forgettable duet from the Fifty Shades soundtrack. It’s so horribly predictable, you barely need to bother tuning in. Ora beginning the performance alone, standing in a spotlight in a bust-bearing frock. A minute or so in, Payne bounding onto the stage with all the swagger of a seventeen year-old who shares a Fiat with their mom. He’ll be wearing something eye-bleedingly dreadful, drenched in Gucci or Gabbana, looking like a twattish twenty-something who got mega-rich mega-early and is now a dad on the brink of divorce and definitely not in the midst of quite a big crisis. He’ll be pitchy and mumbly, gurning into the camera, pouting like a bellend.
Every year, the BRITs lower the bar. How did we go from PJ Harvey and Björk belting out a Rolling Stones cover to these two ITV1 chumps plugging their underwhelming fuck jam? If the needlessly nationalistic BRITs are supposed to showcase the best of British talent, they’ve really shot themselves in the foot here. With a wealth of genuinely exciting acts to choose from, they’ve opted for a collaboration that will be forgotten before the performance is even over.
Imagine the endless duets that were looked over in favour of this. Stormzy taking on the Tories with a politicised rap performed with Kate Tempest. Harry Styles reunited with Zayn for a homoerotic reworking of ‘Dusk Til Dawn’. An ultimate rock-pop girl band made up of Haim and Little Mix performing a mash-up of every Spice Girls number one. Annie Lennox and Dave Grohl standing at opposite ends of the stage, just screaming at each other for three and a half minutes until one of them bursts a blood vessel.
Collaborations can be disastrous, but they should never be boring. Somehow, the BRITs have managed to book one that’s both.