By Alex Green, PA Acting Deputy Entertainment Editor
Harry Styles dominated the Brit Awards, winning all four of the awards he was nominated for.
The biggest names from the world of music, from Stormzy to Sam Smith, descended on London’s O2 Arena for the annual ceremony on Saturday night.
Former One Direction star Styles (29) used his speeches to acknowledge his “privilege” and namecheck the female artists who were absent from the best artist category this year.
The event faced a backlash this year, its second with gender-neutral categories, after the best artist list featured only male artists – Central Cee, Fred Again, George Ezra, Stormzy and Styles.
This was despite an increase in female artists or all-women groups across the board.
While on stage, Styles namechecked Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama, Mabel, Florence + The Machine and Becky Hill – all female acts who might have been tapped for the award.
In an apparent reference to the online backlash to comments he made at the Grammys last weekend, he added that he was “very aware of my privilege up here tonight”.
While accepting the Grammy for best album last Sunday, he said on-stage: “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often” prompting some to comment that artists from diverse backgrounds such as Beyonce have faced more obstacles to success.
Nothing but love for Stormzy and this performance #BRITs
Watch now via: https://t.co/mFYtAONxvo #BRITs pic.twitter.com/UBZyioIej5
— BRIT Awards (@BRITs) February 11, 2023
He also thanked his family and his former One Direction bandmates, saying: “I wouldn’t be here without you.”
Claming his fourth and final gong of the night – album of the year, he added: “Thanks for the welcome home…I’m so proud to be a British artist.”
Styles claimed the gongs for album of the year, song of the year for the chart-topping As It Was, artist of the year and best pop/R&B act.
The last time an act secured four Brits in one year was 2016 when Adele swept away the competition following the release of her album 25.
Indie rockers Wet Leg also followed up on their success at the Grammys last week, where they won two prizes, by claiming the gongs for best new artist and best group.
The Isle of Wight-formed band, comprised of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, are due to head out on tour as Styles’ opening act in the coming months.
Vocalist Teasdale appeared to poke fun at Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner’s acceptance speech at the 2014 ceremony by quoting it closely.
Screaming crying throwing up @Harry_Styles #BRITs pic.twitter.com/XCDdynyDo2
— BRIT Awards (@BRITs) February 11, 2023
She said: “That rock and roll, hey. That rock and roll, it just won’t go away. It might hibernate for time to time, then sink back into the swamp.”
Laughing, she then added: “But in seriousness thank you so much. This is so scary because being on the telly can be such a boys’ club thing” before thanking all the women involved in making their debut album.
Beyonce also won two Brits – best international artist and best international song for her dancefloor focussed anthem Break My Soul.
The pop superstar was not present but in a video message said: “Thank you so much for this incredible recognition” before thanking her British fans and adding: “The renaissance begins!”
International group went to Irish post-punks Fontaines DC – their first win at the Brits.
This year, four genre categories were decided by the public via a vote on TikTok – alternative rock act, hip hop/rap/grime act, dance act and pop/R&B act.
Styles claimed best pop/R&B act while alternative rock act went to The 1975 and Manchester rapper Aitch claimed the prize for hip hop/rap/grime act.
Aitch thanked the fans for voting, his team and his record label and added “not many” people from where he is from in the city win awards.
Vocalist Becky Hill, who has lent her voice to numerous top 10 dance-pop singles, won the dance act prize for a second consecutive year.
Tearfully, Hill said she was touched by the comments on being nominated and felt she was getting over her “imposter syndrome”.
R&B girl group Flo were previously announced as the winners of the 2023 Rising Star award and were handed their gong on the red carpet by Jessie J, the recipient of the 2011 prize.
Host Mo Gilligan kicked off the ceremony with a skit in which he arrived at the O2 Arena via a helicopter organised by Lizzo.
Styles then opened the show with a performance of his hit As It Was wearing an unbuttoned glittering gold jacket and flared trousers.
The night also saw a raunchy performance of Unholy by Smith and Kim Petras set inside a car repair shop that featured a close-up shot of a kiss between two dancers.
Close to the climax of the event, Gilligan was forced to apologise for “technical difficulties” that meant viewers were shown archive footage of Adele performing at last year’s ceremony.
Black was the dominant colour on the red carpet ahead of the show, with Styles, Smith, Salma Hayek Pinault and many more opting for all-black outfits.