Brit awards 2011: Take That win best British group 21 years after their debut

The manband's triumph at the Brits comes after three previous nominations for the award
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Take That at the Brit awards
Take That at the Brit awards. Photograph: Matt Kent/WireImage

It may only take a minute to fall in love, but to reach the zenith of your artistic career can take a while longer, as Take That have discovered.

After 17 No 1 hits, pop world domination, an acrimonious split and a dewy-eyed reunion, the phenomenally successful boy-turned-manband were finally crowned best British group at the Brit awards, 21 years after their first performance on the cheesy late-night TV show The Hitman & Her.

Young pretender Tinie Tempah may have taken home more awards – the rapper received statuettes for both British breakthrough act and best single for the infectious Pass Out – but the night belonged to the veteran band.

It was most certainly the campest, and possibly the most spectacular, opening to any Brit awards, the boys took to the stage flanked by Take That soldiers, who by the end of the performance were only in their underwear.

The revamped Brits were styled as a music-centric event rather than the bacchanalian back-patting exercise of the past. And there was evidence that the 1,000-strong voting academy, which this year included music performers for the first time as well as the usual promoters, producers, publishers and retailers, wanted to celebrate "quality" music.

They were not left wanting. A virtuoso performance by Adele of her song Someone Like You entranced and enchanted the arena in equal measure before, in perhaps the most telling illustration of the change, folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling accepted the award for best British female solo artist.

While her precisely written and haunting album I Speak Because I Can received critical acclaim, it peaked at No 4 in the charts and she has remained under the mainstream radar.

Her victory is just the sort of left-of-centre award that the new Brits chairman David Joseph was looking for when he overhauled the voting academy.

The same, too, could be said for folk band Mumford & Sons, who have proved that banjos are no barriers to mass appeal, and took home the most coveted award of the night, the best British album, for their debut release Sigh No More.

But the revamp could not deflect from the crowning of Take That, the peak of an extraordinary 12 months in which the group's most recent album, Progress, became the fastest-selling of the decade with first-day sales of more than 235,000, the highest since Oasis released Be Here Now in 1997.

Take That's accompanying tour – the biggest in UK history – sold out in minutes, and promises to be the most spectacular that "Thatters", as their fans are known, have ever seen.

The band split amid accusations, insults and alcoholism in 1995. Robbie Williams, ever the bad boy of the group, went on to achieve huge success as a solo act – and has won more Brit awards than any other artist. His debut album, Life Thru a Lens, went straight to No 1, and hits such as Angels lodged themselves firmly in the karaoke canon.

But after Williams's career hit the buffers, the newly-reformed four-piece Take That went on to have success without himwith The Ultimate tour in 2006, and The Circus album and tour in 2008.

After winning the award for best group, Mark Owen tear-jearkingly turned to Williams. "Rob, thanks for coming back mate," he said over the screams. Williams response was fittingly a throw back to the 90s, as he shouted "shabba!" into the mike.

Gary Barlow, the main songwriter of the band, recently turned 40, joining Jason Orange who is the same age, and Howard Donald, 42, in the realm of fortysomethings. Williams and Owen are not far behind at 37 and 39.

Take That's award – the first time they have been crowned best British band despite three previous nominations – comes eight months after Williams announced he was rejoining the band.

Plan B, real name Ben Drew, whose concept album The Defamation Of Strickland Banks went to No 1 in the UK, was named best British male solo artist for his blend of rap-punctuated soul, while Jessie J, who has exploded on to the pop scene in 2011, going to No 1 with Price Tag this month, took home the prize for best newcomer.

Canadian indie rockers Arcade Fire continued their good run, winning best international group and best international album, after taking home a Grammy on Sunday for album of the year for The Suburbs.

Accepting the awards the band paid tribute to the British bands that had changed their lives. "From New Order to David Bowie, The Clash, Culture Club, Depeche Mode and The Smiths. Thank you Britain, thank you so much."

American rapper Cee Lo Green, singer of the hugely popular, if not charmingly titled, Fuck You (or Forget You, depending on your radio station), took home the award for best international male solo artist while Rihanna won best international female solo artist.

The Brits may have been all about the music, but proof that the awards still enjoy a little unadulterated bubble-gum pop came in the perfectly coiffed form of the teen idol Justin Bieber, who took home the award for best international breakthrough act.


British male solo artist

Plan B

British female solo artist

Laura Marling

British breakthrough act

Tinie Tempah

British group

Take That

British single

Pass Out by Tinie Tempah

MasterCard British album of the year

Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons

International male solo artist

Cee Lo Green

International female solo artist


International breakthrough act

Justin Bieber

International group

Arcade Fire

International album

The Suburbs by Arcade Fire

Critics' Choice

Jessie J

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Comments in chronological order (Total 127 comments)

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  • This symbol indicates that that person is a contributorContributor
  • edek

    15 February 2011 10:11PM

    Mumford and sons ... album of the year .... which year? it was released in 2009 ... the Brit awards are really strange

  • MuchPreferWinter

    15 February 2011 10:15PM

    Oh the justice! Finally the human race is moving on. Not only can we do it! We have DONE IT! A boyband won some award they didn't get before apparently. Eat that wikileaks! Egypt take a backseat! The scales have moved to 50/50 and the future of the world is safe. Hallelujah!!!!!

  • EmEye5

    15 February 2011 10:19PM

    Mumford & Sons winning the best album award is a joke. It was released in 2009 and is the biggest pile of toe curling toss I've ever heard.

    A bit like the Brit awards in general

  • mmoloney

    15 February 2011 10:25PM

    It's just a big old back-slapping irrelevant load of cack - is anybody bothered when the awards seem to give decent music the body swerve?

  • Novo

    15 February 2011 10:29PM

    WTF are they saying with that stage ensemble? I mean, these things usually have someone entitled an 'Artistic Director', so would it be rude to ask what he meant?

  • rowing09

    15 February 2011 10:32PM

    Any particular why this is an article on the Brits and Take That rather than Tinie Tempah and the rise of British urban music? Footnotes undermine the achievement of British music in 2010.

  • Puppriss

    15 February 2011 10:38PM

    Good Griefhole, what a parade of utter horse-guff. Justin Bieber for Nora's sake! I'd rather burn my ears off with an oxy-acetylene torch and fill the holes year-old skunk's vomit than listen to that insipid little foetus. As for Take That... no words

    (oh, and well done Arcade Fire)

  • cheveguara

    15 February 2011 10:52PM

    The Brits gives me the shits. Another industry backslapper with music content that would not even grace an elevator. yet another plot to keep our airwaves free of rock and roll.

  • IGiveUp

    15 February 2011 10:53PM

    Can someone please define 'urban music' for me. Is it Rap? Hip-hop? Is it not MOBO? Is punk from the cities of the late 70's/early not equally 'urban'?

  • Smashy79

    15 February 2011 10:54PM

    *yawn* at the people saying Mumford & Sons were undeserving of their award.
    A great album, a nice, self-effacing bunch of lads, and generally just.. great.

    The only thing taking the shine from their win is the fact they've been placed in the same league as the awful Tiny Tempah and the horrendous Bieber Brat.

  • KingLudd

    15 February 2011 10:54PM

    Take That started off as insipid rote formulaic guff and then went downhill, before breaking up and reappearing as a rebranded 'serious' band replete with serious adult concerns and sounding exactly like Coldplay, who themselves were derivative old cock.

    Derivations of derivation. A distillation of toxicity, small doses of which are potentially fatal to anyone in whom there still resides some small trace of idealism. They couldn't really be more cynically bland and bereft of humanity if they were a row of singing macbooks.

    But you can't call this stuff shit at the risk of being thought elitist. Swarm over death.

  • rowing09

    15 February 2011 10:54PM


    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but whether you think the music's shit or not, you have to admit that British music did well in the charts last year (either that or you live in a bubble). I think Justin Weiner or whatever his name is shit but I accept that he is doing well, cemented by the fact that he was voted International Breakthrough Act.

    P.s. I don't smoke.

  • Smashy79

    15 February 2011 10:57PM

    Also, Laura Marling does not belong in that list. She's far more deserving of something more meaningful.
    As are - come to think of it - Mumford & Sons. The Brits should be renamed "the most wrongfully influential awards"...

  • rowing09

    15 February 2011 10:57PM


    According to the fountain of knowledge that is Wikipedia, Today, urban contemporary refers to music that can be described as a crossover of rap and contemporary R&B which in some instances may be accompanied with dance beats. See -

  • Winstone1975

    15 February 2011 10:58PM

    Take That? Winning awards for their music? Can someone please explain to me how and when this bunch of nightclub dancers became musically credible? Nowadays they are lauded more than Radiohead and that Tory twat Barlow is treated as if he is some sort of songwriting genius on a par with a Lennon or Young, He isn't. If there was any justice in the world he would be singing "Lady in Red" at weddings.

  • alwaysopinionated

    15 February 2011 11:16PM

    Tinie Tempah may have taken home more awards – the rapper received statuettes for both British breakthrough act and best single for the infectious Pass Out – but the night belonged to the veteran band.

    The night did not belong to the veteran band. Throw all of the long career statistics and paragraphs of praise that you want to but when did winning 1 award make anyone supremo of the night at an awards ceremony. That's like saying the night belonged to Inception and Christopher Nolan at the Baftas. Give Tinie Tempah the recognition (and paragraphs of written text) he deserves.

  • suedehead42

    15 February 2011 11:23PM

    The rules were changed some years ago to allow an album that took a while to take off to be nominated. That's how Mumford and Sons were - deservedly - able to qualify. Yes, it was released in 2009 but it didn't start selling in any great numbers until last year.

  • wobinidan

    15 February 2011 11:51PM

    So, I did myself the disservice of checking out the bands and artists I wasn't familiar with on this list, and I it only made me angrier. Tinie Tempah deserves to be making money in the US top 40, along with all those other depressing "R&B" stars. Plan B is a wanker first and foremost, with a boring guitar as boring backing.

    Jessie J? She belongs in the same catagory as Tinie Tempah, mediocre American pop.

    I mean, I guess if you're 12 years old, you're a bit too old to be listening to this music, but for everyone under the age of 12, I'm sure this is revolutionary.

  • sleepyfingers

    16 February 2011 12:03AM

    Years ago someone asked me at a gig if I'd heard so-and-so.

    I said "No, I'm too busy playing gigs at the weekend to go out and see anyone."

    I don't see why Take that shouldn't get an award. I've been on the road many times and whichever way you slice it it's hard work entertaining a pub let alone doing stadiums. Can't say I like their stuff (being more Keef than Santana myself) but what the hell, success on Take That's scale deserves some recognition.

    At least Gary Barlow writes, y'know - tunes.


  • dondi

    16 February 2011 12:04AM

    The worst Brits I've ever seen. And that's saying something.
    Not even 'so bad it's good' like it's supposed to be.
    Just plain bad.

    Bar Arcade Fire and Laura Marling everything else was beyond embarrassing and embarrassingly dull.

    Corden, Berry and Andre.
    Boris Becker??
    Those ad break bumpers; Lulu, Ting Tings and Manastasia. What a coup!
    The ridiculous 'riot' theme.
    Corden grooming Bieber. It must be cramped in that closet...
    Tinie Stryder/Tinchie Temper and Plan B's total lack of humility.
    'Massively' overrated Mum Soul maestro Adele.
    Mumford's posh boy down the farm fake folk.
    Paloma fucking Faith.


  • kiwiNick

    16 February 2011 12:10AM

    I hope to God that, somewhere in Britain, there's a bunch of teenagers with attitude and guitars writing and playing some real music. Because if this really is the best we can come up with, we're fucked.

  • dondi

    16 February 2011 12:16AM


    I hope to God that, somewhere in Britain, there's a bunch of teenagers with attitude and guitars writing and playing some real music. Because if this really is the best we can come up with, we're fucked.

    Thankfully there are loads both here and abroad but they'll never be on the Brits because:

    a) They're not Brit school alumni
    b) X Factor winners
    c) 'Urban' acts more interested in business plans and nailing audience demographics
    d) Industry supported yanks

  • tipatina

    16 February 2011 12:45AM

    i've always wondered if the brits is taken seriously away from these i've just phoned my sister who lives in jersey and she said no she did'nt watch it...

  • artoffiction

    16 February 2011 12:54AM

    "The revamped Brits were styled as a music-centric event" and Laura Marling "left of centre". Jeez....

    Same old same old...

    1. Take That best group is hilarious
    2. The Mumford and Sons album was released in 2009 so god knows where that came from
    3. Laura Marling wins the coveted Kate Bush/Annie Lennox award
    4. Arcade Fire did release the best album of last year and good to see it awarded so here and at the Grammys.
    5. Alexandra Topping seems giddy with excitement that Take That won - giving sales figures, tour stats etc. - all of which are crap press release stuff. (Mentioning Oasis' Be Here Now just reminds us to don't belive the hype).
    6. Justin Beiber? Is someone from his record company paying for this?
    7. Well done Tiny Tempah and Plan B, not particularly my bag, but both excellent in their own way.

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