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Brit Awards 2024: 14 Most Surprising Brits Wins Ever

Brit Awards 2024: 14 Most Surprising Brits Wins Ever

Each year, the Brit Awards recognise some of the biggest musical acts in the world, with Elton John, David Bowie, Beyoncé and Amy Winehouse among those who’ve taken home awards over the years.

But looking back at previous ceremonies, it’s surprising to see just how many surprising stars have also bagged Brits – and, more to the point, how many A-list stars they beat in the process.

Here are 14 of the most unexpected, unlikely and, occasionally, bizarre Brit Awards wins from ceremonies gone by…

Dexy’s Midnight Runners (1983)


If you’re like us, you’ll associate Come On Eileen with watching through your fingers while your aunties dance around at a family wedding.

However, in 1983, the Dexy’s Midnight Runners hit was named Best British Single, over Irene Cara’s Fame and Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger (both of which, to be fair, are also family wedding staples).

Rick Astley (1988)


But Come On Eileen isn’t the only questionable 80s staple to have previously been named the greatest British song of the entire year.

Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up also earned the same award in 1988, beating Pet Shop Boys’ It’s A Sin and T’Pau’s China In Your Hand for the accolade.

Laura Marling (2011)

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Back in 2011, the Best British Female award featured a tight race between Cheryl Cole, Ellie Goulding and then-newcomer Paloma Faith, with music fans questioning which of them would end up taking home the prize.

In the end, none of them did. In fact, it was outsider Laura Marling who was given the gong.

Royal Blood (2015)

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Similarly, Royal Blood landed something of a surprise win against more chart-friendly acts for the Best British Group award in 2015.

The Mercury Prize nominees staved off some stiff competition from Coldplay, Clean Bandit and One Direction to scoop their first ever Brit.

One Direction (2013)

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Don’t go thinking 1D never had their moment at the Brits, though.

Obviously, the chart-topping boyband having a Brit Award isn’t exactly beyond belief (they actually have seven in total, without counting Harry Styles’ additional solo wins).

However, many were a little alarmed in 2013, when the Global Success category was invented, seemingly from nowhere, and mysteriously won by One Direction.

The controversial category did remain in place for seven years, with One Direction winning it twice in that time, alongside Adele, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran.

Harry Styles (2018)

Again, it’s not necessarily a massive surprise that Harry Styles would have won a Brit Award – he is, after all, one of the most famous singers in the world right now.

But what is perhaps a little shocking is that that his first ever solo Brit would be in the Video Of The Year category, for his (slightly ropey) Sign Of The Times video.

A credit to the power of the former Directioners, who voted in their droves for Harry to bag the award.

Mick Hucknall (1993)


Mick Hucknall’s win was doubly surprising when you take into account that he beat competition from Eric Clapton, George Michael, Sir Elton John and Phil Collins to land Best British Male.

And yes, that’s Richard O’Brien of The Crystal Maze and Rocky Horror fame in the background, who, for some reason, was the host that year.

Finley Quaye (1998)

Now, we’ve nothing against Finley Quaye. We’re sure he’s a lovely man. But we have to be honest, we’d not actually heard of him before discovering he was once named Best British Male at the Brits.

Impressively, he received the award over Sir Elton John, Robbie Williams, Gary Barlow and Paul Weller back in 1998, when apparently white on white on yellow on white was all the rage.

Braveheart (1996)

Braveheart cleaned up at awards season upon its release, but did you know this included scooping a Brit?

That’s because the awards show used to have a Best Soundtrack prize, with the Mel Gibson epic beating Muriel’s Wedding and Batman Forever for the gong back in 1996.

Shaggy (2002)

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True, It Wasn’t Me wasn’t exactly an underground track (it was the UK’s 11th best-selling song of the 2000s, after all).

But with nominees for Best International Male including Bob Dylan and Dr Dre, we can’t help but feel that Shaggy’s win was a surprising one, even with a recent hit under his belt.

Duffy (2009)

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Off the back of an earworm hit single like Mercy, it was inevitable that Welsh singer Duffy would bag herself a handful of Brit Awards in 2009.

It’s only when you look back that you realise she beat Adele in not one but two categories. She also beat Coldplay, Radiohead and Elbow in another.

A1 (2001)

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A1 were named Best British Breakthrough Act in 2001 over Craig David, Coldplay and Artful Dodger.

It bears repeating: A1 were named Best British Breakthrough Act in 2001 over Craig David, Coldplay and Artful Dodger.

Here’s what they wore to the event. Good grief.

Pretty much every Best British Single nominee in 2006

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Coldplay won Best British Single for Speed Of Sound in 2006.

But then again, they’d have to, wouldn’t they? Because look what they were up against: Shayne Ward’s That’s My Goal. Tony Christie’s Is This The Way To Amarillo?. And James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful.

If you look closely, you’ll see Madonna in the bottom-right corner of this picture, whispering (we can only assume): “It should have been Sugababes.”

Status Quo (1991)


If we had to guess all of the acts who’ve received the Brits’ Outstanding Contribution To Music award over the years, perhaps Status Quo wouldn’t be one of them.

Still, looking at those smiling faces, who could possibly argue?

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