“The U.K.’s Biggest Night in Music” took over London’s world-renowned O2 Arena as The 2018 BRIT Awards with Mastercard honored the best British and International artists, videos, songs and albums over the past year. AXS TV aired the exciting event in the U.S., just hours after its original U.K. broadcast.
Acclaimed British TV presenter-comedian Jack Whitehall hosted the ceremony, which featured an explosive lineup of performances from some of music’s biggest stars. Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and more lit up the stage with a huge list of hits. Check out some of the best performances from the evening below.
Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton Opener
Fresh off his critically-acclaimed Super Bowl Halftime Show, Justin Timberlake kicked off the night with an electric performance featuring “Midnight Summer Jam” and a duet with his former collaborator Chris Stapleton for “Say Something.” Timberlake stayed true to his “woodsy” theme to support his chart-topping fifth studio album, Man of the Woods. There’s nothing quite like JT to get the crowd revved and ready to celebrate.
Rag’N’Bone Man and Jorja Smith – “Skin”
It was a beautiful blending of BRIT Awards Critics Choice Award winners past and present as last year’s winner Rag’N’Bone Man joined the 2018 Critics Choice winner Jorja Smith for a stirring, soulful rendition of Rag’N’Bone Man’s UK Top 20 ballad “Skin.” It was simply lovely.
Dua Lipa – “Rules”
Dua Lipa hit the BRIT Awards stage in full swimsuit-bearing stride as she confidently counted off her list of breakup Dos and Don’ts in her chart-topping single “New Rules.” The five-time BRIT Award nominee was flanked by a huge crew of female backup dancers for her empowering anthem and the audience loved it.
Ed Sheeran – “Supermarket Flowers”
Four-time BRIT Award winner Ed Sheeran was notably sans his acoustic guitar as he stood behind the microphone, backed by a piano and guitar player to sing a heartfelt tribute to his late grandmother with “Supermarket Flowers.” The newly-engaged “Shape of You” singer wore a red jacket and simple gold band on his left ring finger while swaying lights flickered around him in the audience. His friend and mentor Elton John surprised him via video later in the ceremony by announcing him as the Global Success Award recipient.
Foo Fighters – “The Sky is a Neighborhood"
The Foo Fighters made their triumphant BRIT Awards performance debut after receiving their fifth overall BRIT Award and fourth in the International Group category. You can’t get any better than watching these renowned rockers play “The Sky is a Neighborhood” from atop a log cabin.
Kendrick Lamar - "This Is Another Satire by Kendrick Lamar”
Introduced as the “greatest living rapper,” Kendrick Lamar hit the stage and followed his GRAMMYs “This is a Satire by Kendrick Lamar”-captioned performance with a sequel. He delivered “Another Satire by Kendrick Lamar” on a glass box standing over a sports car. It was a visual spectacle, complete with flame throwers, cheerleaders and the car being smashed. Thus, Lamar’s performance may be deemed the most “explosive” on several fronts.
Rita Ora and Liam Payne - “Fifty Shades Freed Duet”
International pop star Rita Ora was dressed in white and performed two solo singles, “Your Song,” which was co-written by Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac and “Anywhere,” before bringing her “Fifty Shades Freed” collaborator Liam Payne out for a sexy performance of “For You.” The pair of singers did a fabulous job blending their vocals on the sultry soundtrack song.
Stormzy Delivers Show-Closing Freestyle Rap
Stormzy was a surprise BRIT Awards big winner, beating out Ed Sheeran for British Male Solo Artist and Mastercard British Artist Album of the Year for Gang Signs & Prayer. He closed the evening’s performances with a gospel-influenced “By Your Grace” and a freestyle rap in which he called out Prime Minister Theresa May and the Daily Mail. Rain fell as the rapper said, “Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell? / What you thought we just forgot about Grenfell?” Stormzy was nominated last year for British Breakthrough Act.