London (AP) — The Brit Awards recognized big international stars including Drake and Beyonce and a cross-section of home-grown talent last week — but the ceremony was overshadowed by the much-missed David Bowie and George Michael.
Bowie, who died in January 2016 at age 69, was crowned British male artist of the year and won British album of the year for “Blackstar,” released days before his death.
Bowie’s son, filmmaker Duncan Jones, accepted the best album award on behalf of his father, who he said had “always been there supporting people who think they’re a little bit weird or a little bit strange, a little bit different.”
As well as rewarding Bowie, the show paid tribute to one of the music industry’s many losses of 2016 —George Michael, who died on Christmas Day aged 53.
His Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said that with Michael’s death, “a supernova in a firmament of shining stars has been extinguished.”
Coldplay singer Chris Martin performed a moving rendition of Michael’s “A Different Corner” — dueting with a recording of Michael himself and backed by a group of violins.
The flashy show at London ‘s O2 Arena opened with girl group Little Mix giving a thunderous performance of “Shout Out to My Ex,” backed by a troupe of silver-pained dancers. The song went on to be named British single of the year.
There were also performances by Bruno Mars, The 1975, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Robbie Williams and grime musician Skepta on a night where Britain’s music industry celebrated U.K. talent and a smattering of international stars.
Soulful chanteuse Emeli Sande was named female British artist of the year, while Manchester indie pop group The 1975 won the trophy for best British band.
The international awards went to global stars — none of whom came to accept them. Drake was named international male solo artist, while Beyonce took the international female prize. A Tribe Called Quest took the trophy for international group.