LONDON (AP) — British music put on a confident show at the Brit Awards on Wednesday, celebrating a resurgent industry whose bands and artists are topping charts around the world.
Winners ranged from established acts such as Coldplay and Adele to surfing English folk singer Ben Howard, who was named British breakthrough act and British male artist of the year.
“I’m not very good at speeches,” 25-year-old Howard said, accurately — though he may have to get good at it if his career continues to take off.
American artists Frank Ocean and Lana Del Rey were among the non-British winners at a ceremony that embraced the mainstream while rewarding artists with distinctive personalities.
Long derided as dull, the Brits have become a lively celebration of “Cool Britannia” music and style, featuring a dinner for hundreds of artists and industry figures followed by a televised concert and awards show for thousands of paying fans.
Hard rockers Muse opened the show at London’s O2 Arena with a typically robust performance of their song “Supremacy”— all thundering music, dazzling light show and 60-piece orchestra. Other performers ranged from world-conquering boy band One Direction to American artists Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake.
Timberlake, dapper in a tuxedo as he performed “Mirrors,” was described by host James Corden, in a nod to Europe’s horse meat scandal, as “95 percent beefcake with just a little touch of horse.”
One Direction performed a mashup of post-punk classics “One Way or Another” and “Teenage Kicks,” their single for Britain’s Comic Relief charity.
Chanteuse Emeli Sande took the first award of the evening, for British female artist, while Mumford & Sons were named best British group.
Both had an outstanding 2012. Singer-songwriter Sande topped the British charts with her debut album “Our Version of Events” and performed at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics. Mumford & Sons topped U.K. and U.S. charts with their second album “Babel,” which was named album of the year at the Grammys earlier this month.
Soul singer Amy Winehouse — who died in July 2011 from accidental alcohol poisoning — was among the other nominees for British female artist, eligible thanks to her posthumous “Lioness: Hidden Treasures” album. Her father, Mitch Winehouse, arrived for the awards ceremony at London’s O2 Arena wearing a waistcoat emblazoned with a picture of his daughter.
Coldplay was named best British live act, beating nominees including The Rolling Stones, who celebrated their 50th anniversary with a series of sold-out shows last year.
Adele won the best British single prize for her James Bond theme “Skyfall.” The soulful singer sent a message from Los Angeles, where she is rehearsing for Sunday’s Academy Awards.
There was no repeat of last year, when she was cut-off mid-speech because the show was running late — an incident Corden referred to in mock-embarrassment several times.
The Black Keys were named best international group, while Del Rey took the trophy for international female solo artist. The U.S. singer, who began as an Internet sensation, won a breakthrough Brit award last year and on Wednesday thanked Britain for supporting her.
The international male trophy went to R&B star Frank Ocean, who said it was “definitely a long way from working fast food in New Orleans” — and was the only winner to thank artist Damien Hirst for creating the polka-dot Brit Awards statuette.
Contenders for the biggest award of the night, best album, include Sande’s “Our Version Of Events,” Alt-J’s “An Awesome Wave,” Mumford & Sons’ “Babel,” Plan B’s “Ill Manors” and Paloma Faith’s “Fall To Grace.”
This year sees the introduction of a new category recognizing global success, with nominees including One Direction, Mumford & Sons and Adele.
Most of the awards are chosen by more than 1,000 musicians, critics and record industry figures, with several decided by public vote.