Emeli Sandé has crowned an extraordinary year, in which she had the bestselling album in Britain and appeared to great acclaim at the opening and closing Olympic ceremonies, by winning two Brit awards.
The Scottish singer, whose debut album Our Version of Events overtook Adele's 21 to become the bestselling album of 2012 in September, accepted awards for British album of the year and best female solo artist. A year ago, she was presciently named rising star at the Brits in the critics' choice awards.
With only the Beatles spending more consecutive weeks in the charts, Sandé has been the standout success story of the year, with her brand of turbo-powered soul and R&B filling the airwaves and propping up album sales in the UK.
Accepting the award for album of the year, the singer said the fact that so many people had connected with it made her "feel incredible and not so lonely". She said: "Thanks to everybody who let me make the album I wanted to make … This is a dream, really."
Other winners at this years awards included Mumford & Sons, following on from their success at the Grammys, Lana Del Rey and One Direction, who gave a tongue-in-cheek performance of their Comic Relief single One Way or Another while balancing on a giant pinball machine.
Singer-songwriter Ben Howard – who was also nominated for the 2012 Mercury Music Prize for his album Every Kingdom – matched Sandé's success, taking home two awards for British breakthrough act and British male. Adding some rarely seen humility to proceedings, Howard said he had been "stoked" just to attend and thanked his mother, "who got a lot of old friends to vote for me".
With half a million album sales behind him, the Devon singer has already made his mark on the UK music scene, but can now expect a significant bump in sales.
Aside from Howard, there was little room for modesty at the event held in London's O2 Arena for the third year, as the UK music industry trumpeted British successes in 2012. With UK acts taking a 13% chunk of all global record sales, and creating four of the top five bestselling albums in America, a new category – the global success award – was created to provide a suitable focus for the self-congratulation.
There were deafening cheers as it was announced that it had gone to One Direction, who released two of America's top-five albums last year, seeing off competition from Adele and Mumford & Sons.
Stadium rockers Muse opened the ceremony in bombastic style with their single Supremacy, backed by an orchestra and dazzling light show.
For the third year running comedian James Corden, who was reported to be struggling with illness earlier in the week, hosted the event, making light of last year's altercation with Adele, which saw him apologetically cut off the singer as she accepted her award for best album. Cutting artists off "never happens here, not on my watch, not any more", he said.
Other performances came from US country star Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake and Brits veteran Robbie Williams.
Adele was finally given the chance to give her uninterrupted thanks after taking home the award for best British single for the Bond theme Skyfall. She may have been angry enough to give a one-fingered salute to "the suits" in the room after the incident last year, but appeared to have moved on, choosing to remain in Los Angeles to rehearse for an Oscars performance, rather than attend the party at home. "I won't keep you too long," she said. "I don't want to hold up the final performance." At the end of the video Corden joked: "Has she definitely finished? Good."
Mumford & Sons, after resoundingly conquering America, took home the award for best British group. The Rolling Stones missed out in the best British live act category, won by Coldplay. Best international group went to the Black Keys, Lana Del Rey took home the award for best international female and Frank Ocean was named best international male.
The global recognition award went to charity War Child, which will receive all proceeds from iTunes downloads of the Brit awards performances made in the next month.
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