In the runup to this year's Brit awards, the organisation's new chairman,
"We needed to stop the mayhem," Tattersfield says, before offering assurances to anyone who thinks all this talk of gravitas suggests that 2014's ceremony, heading to us tomorrow, promises to be as dull as its predecessor. "
This kind of thing is easy to mock, not least because it somehow makes Tattersfield sound less like an emissary of the thrilling world of rock and pop or youth culture than a headmaster informing the school that the local vicar is coming to take assembly and anyone spotted yawning will find themselves on litter duty.
But equally, it's hard not to feel a degree of sympathy. On the most basic level, it must be pretty galling to spend vast amounts of time, money and energy putting together a slick TV show, only to be informed that it was better when the DJ Brandon Block drunkenly jumped on stage, shouted "Oi oi!" then tried to punch
Furthermore, inadvertently or otherwise, Tattersfield's comments highlight what you might call the essential problem of the music industry's annual shindig, coming to us shortly after the Baftas. "The reality is it's about a show," he says, which seems like a tacit acknowledgment that, with the greatest of respect to the winners, no one really cares that much about the awards themselves.
Anyone who doubts this might consider trying to recall who won, say, best British single in 2010 or best British female solo artist in 2011 without recourse to Google (it was JLS and
The editor of Music Week,
Perhaps we should ignore the awards and consider the Brits purely as a piece of music television. The great moments of pop television, the ones people are still talking about decades after the event, stayed with their viewers because they offered them a glimpse of something unexpected: pause for clip of
But music television has changed dramatically from the age in which most of those great moments took place, not least in that it has almost vanished from primetime TV as a result of declining ratings, a state of affairs that's been exacerbated by the rise of
Given the circumstances, there's an understandable inclination to play it safe. Instead of offering viewers a striking glimpse of the unexpected, the Brits is largely stuck with telling its audience what they already know.
It seems impossible that the Brits in 2014 would allow something as jolting as the KLF's performance from 1992 in which they collaborated with grindcore band Extreme Noise Terror to the visible horror of the audience, or even Suede's chemically charged reading of the song Animal Nitrate from the following year.
Ingham says: "I think they do quite a good job at rewarding what remains popular among a very visible audience. But I think the main reason why, for a music aficionado, the Brits seem slightly out of step or slightly behind the times is because in tandem with ITV and
"To be frank, you're not going to do that with a music act that sort of melds genres or pushes the envelope. You are, by the very nature of your metric, picking artists that will not upset or rock the boat of a primetime TV audience."
There's an argument that the Brits might feel, if not cutting edge, then marginally closer to it, if it started to reflect the changing way in which music is being consumed.
In terms of how they reflect popularity, the Brits are still tied to the Official Charts. However, that's far from the whole picture, something noted by
"A website like SB.TV [a "music and lifestyle" website that concentrates on grime and urban music] gets a massive spike in their traffic around 3.30,
"If that whole generation - the exact age group that Radio 1 is aimed at - are all on YouTube and SoundCloud instead of buying downloads, it's almost like a whole ecosystem happening outside the traditional models that the charts were built on. It might be quite niche at first, but it's going to just snowball."
A Brit awards that more accurately reflects the nation's music taste is an appealing idea, although everyone is at pains to point out that it's a hard one to implement: how do you weight the importance of a stream or a
Ingham says: "That's potentially a reason why the Brits could not be as exciting as one could hope, or certainly not as youthful as one could hope - because it's very, very hard for traditional media of all kinds to tap into the activity and engagement we see around
Others think it might be a hotbed of corruption. "There's plenty of chance for manipulating online statistics," says
For the foreseeable future, perhaps the best the Brits can hope for is something like Adele's emotionally charged performance of Someone Like You for 2011: a moment that people were still talking about the next day, but which was entirely uncontroversial and stuck to the script.
Without wishing to sound fatalistic, those moments are hard to come by because they require such a confluence of circumstances: you need an artist who's already well-known, but on the verge of much vaster success, giving the performance of their lives on live television.
"We know there's going to be a stripped-down moment with an artist and an acoustic guitar, maybe playing a cover version," says Ingham. "God forbid, Daft Punk's Get Lucky at half speed. The hope is that there's going to be a hush across the O2 and all you can hear is the occasional gasp of the audience when this magic unfurls.
"Unfortunately," he adds. "You can't really orchestrate that magic."
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