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MTV EMAs - Where are our British Stars?

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SELENA GOMEZ EMA
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There are many sights which lift the heart, but the one of pop star Jason Derulo trudging towards seat 16F after discovering Aer Lingus only does economy to Belfast will stay with me for months.

Derulo was one of the stars imported into Northern Ireland this weekend to make the EMAs (European Music Awards, hosted by MTV) a worldwide spectacle.

There's something deeply satisfying about seeing a North American superstar's knees wedged in economy - if only because on stage, their continent is undisputedly first class.

MTV's show was brilliant - Lady Gaga obligingly turned up with a spaceship on her head to collect her four gongs, Justin Bieber walked and talked at the same time and even the choreographed streaker who disrupted Haydn Paniettere's presentation was the buffest thing in Belfast.

But it suggests that in pop music as well as politics, Europe is in need of bailing out from bigger and more powerful neighbours.

Party rockers LMFAO, who scattered joy like confetti during their performance, are American.

Queen put on the gig of the night in receipt of their global icon award, but that was down to the charisma and lungs of American Idol runner up and their stand-in singer, Adam Lambert. The Red Hot Chili Peppers Californicated Ulster Hall.

This year's host Selena Gomez - who was so cardboard she may even now have been posted for Christmas - is American. Her boyfriend Bieber is Canadian. You see where I'm going with this.

There were some local heroes, of course.

Snow Patrol brought more goosebumps to the flesh on a chilly Belfast night as they rocked outside City Hall. Coldplay opened the televised show with aplomb and Jessie J justified her extraordinary year, both in a solo performance and with superstar DJ David Guetta.

Nor is it MTV's fault that the names of Gaga, Beyonce, Bieber, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars were repeated over and over, like a rosary of nominees. They are the biggest stars in the world.

Meanwhile, we've lost Amy Winehouse and Adele's lost her voice. Who can we answer with?

Only a handful of acts can appeal to the diverse European markets, and give the show its global audience of a billion viewers. Most of them are American. (And I don't mean David Hasselhoff, who, as the Berlusconi of music, turns up year after year in total denial that he's not an artist.)

This gang are genuine stars - they're glossier, more glamorous, more gorgeous, more Gaga than anything we're producing.

Where are our own acts that can recreate the theatrics of Freddie Mercury, the style of David Bowie and the swagger of the Stones? It's unlikely they're on this series of the X-Factor, which is the only place on TV where, tragically, we're already seeing next year's chart artists.

We need people whose talent matches their ambition, who want to conquer the world, not beg for our votes. Fine, the show discovered Leona Lewis - but acts who go on to global domination have a confidence that doesn't come from repeated pleading for public approbation.

Our attitude to our music needs to change. We need to again become a nation of musical believers, rather than Beliebers. Otherwise, like poor old Jason Derulo, we'll always be sitting in the cheap seats.

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