Brit Awards 2021: 14 Most Surprising Winners Ever, Including Shaggy, Mick Hucknall And Finley Quaye

Including when Lemar beat Amy Winehouse, and Duffy pipped Adele to two different awards.

The Brit Awards are almost here again, honouring the biggest names in the music industry.

Looking back at years gone by, it’s no great shock that musical greats like Elton John, David Bowie, Madonna and Amy Winehouse all have Brits to their name, but it’s surprising to see just how many unexpected stars have also bagged awards over the years.

And, more to the point, how many A-list stars have lost out to artists who ultimately didn’t exactly stand the test of time.

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 are also family wedding staples, to be fair).
Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up (1988)
Come On Eileen isn't the only 80s cringe-fest to have previously been named the greatest British song of the entire year, though, with Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up also getting the award in 1988.

Rick beat Pet Shop Boys' It's A Sin and T'Pau's China In Your Hand for the accolade.
Laura Marling (2011)
David Fisher/REX Shutterstock
Back in 2011, the question was whether it would be Cheryl Cole, Ellie Goulding or then-newcomer Paloma Faith taking home the Best British Female award at the Brits.

It turned out that none of them did, and it was outsider Laura Marling who was given the gong. And doesn't she look thrilled about it?
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 win Best British Male.

And yes, that's Richard O'Brien of Crystal Maze and Rocky Horror fame in the background who, for some reason, was the host that year.
One Direction (2013)
David Fisher/REX Shutterstock
1D having a Brit Award isn't exactly beyond the real of possibility (they actually have seven in total), but many were a little alarmed in 2013, when the Global Success category appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and was mysteriously won by the boyband.
Harry Styles (2018)
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Again, it's not necessarily a massive surprise that Harry Styles has a Brit Award, he is after all one of the most famous singers in the world.

But what we are a little shocked by was 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 Directioners, who voted in their droves for Harry to bag the award.
Finley Quaye (1998)
Rex Shutterstock
Now, no offence to Finley Quaye. We're sure he's a lovely man. But we have to be honest, we'd not actually heard of him before we discovered he was a Brit Award winner.

Finley was crowned British Male Solo Artist 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.
Shaggy (2002)
Richard Young/REX Shutterstock
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.
All the Best British Single nominees (2006)
Paul Grover/REX Shutterstock
Coldplay won Best British Single for Speed Of Sound in 2006.

But then 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."
Braveheart (1996)
SNAP/REX Shutterstock
Braveheart cleaned up at awards season upon its release, but did you know this included scooping a Brit?

The Mel Gibson epic beat Muriel's Wedding and Batman Forever to the Best Soundtrack gong in 1996.
Duffy (2009)
David Fisher/REX Shutterstock
With an earworm hit single like Mercy, it was inevitable that Welsh singer Duffy would bag herself a handful of Brit Awards, but who'd have thought she'd have pipped Adele to the award in 2009?
Lemar (2004)
David Fisher/REX Shutterstock
Like Duffy, no one's saying that Lemar didn't deserve his Best British Urban Act prize... but it does mean that a category exists where Lemar from Fame Academy was crowned winner over Amy literal Winehouse.
A1 (2001)
David Fisher/REX Shutterstock
A1 were named Best British Breakthrough Act in 2001 over Craig David, Coldplay and Artful Dodger.

Once again for the cheap seats at the back: 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.
Status Quo (1991)
Status Quo perhaps wouldn't be top of the list of artists we'd guess had been given the Outstanding Contribution To Music award, but looking at those smiling faces, who could possibly argue?