Entertainment & Arts

Absent Pharrell Williams dominates BBC Music Awards

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Media captionPharrell Williams and Ed Sheeran triumphed at the BBC Music Awards as Lizo Mzimba reports

Pharrell Williams has walked away the big winner from the first ever BBC Music Awards.

The US producer-songwriter was named best international artist and won song of the year for his exuberant, gospel-inspired single Happy.

Ed Sheeran was named British act of the year, and played a rousing version of his Pharrell-produced single, Sing, using just a guitar and loop pedal.

The ceremony also saw performances from One Direction, Take That and Coldplay.

Pharrell was unable to attend, as he was filming the US version of talent show The Voice.

Joining the awards ceremony via satellite, he described Happy's global success as "weird" and "not something I can determine".

Paying tribute to the people who watched, streamed or downloaded the song, he said: "Songwriters are beholden to what the audience thinks.

Image caption British act of the year Ed Sheeran was among more than a dozen performers

"When you say 'song of the year' it's not really my award, it's your award."

Accepting his prize from singer Sir Tom Jones, Sheeran said: "A massive thank you to everyone who's bought a record, bought a ticket, streamed on YouTube or listened to my music."

"I always thought my career would stop at one album," he added, "[but] even if people stop listening to the music I'm still going to make it."

Chris Martin opened the show from the dressing rooms, performing the opening lines of Sky Full of Stars, before emerging into Earls Court in London in a shower of confetti and screams.

Many of the other artists were backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra - including Clean Bandit, who played their classical-dance mash-up Mozart's House before segueing into the number one single Rather Be.

While Tom Jones and Paloma Faith sang the Beach Boys' God Only Knows - the song that was used to launch the BBC Music brand earlier this year.

Newcomers Catfish and the Bottlemen also played to their biggest-ever audience, after winning the BBC Introducing award for best new act.

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Image caption John Newman, Ellie Goulding and Calvin Harris posed together on the red carpet
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption As did Tom Jones and Paloma Faith
Image caption One Direction performed their single Steal My Girl
Image caption Gregory Porter also took to the stage
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The awards were hosted by BBC DJ's Fearne Cotton and Chris Evans

The Welsh rock band have been championed by BBC's Introducing strand, which champions emerging talent.

"They've looked after us since we were 15," said singer Van McCann.

"Two years ago, I could only buy a McDonalds and a pack of fags. Now, I can afford to go large."

The song of the year award was the only category decided by public vote, with the others decided by a panel of industry experts.

Prior to the ceremony, there had been criticism that the best British artist prize excluded female acts - despite the success of Ella Henderson, Ellie Goulding and Cheryl Cole over the last 12 months.

BBC Music boss Bob Shennan denied there had been a "carve-up", telling Radio 1's Newsbeat the "six [acts] who were nominated were the six who got the most number of votes".

Hosted by Chris Evans and Fearne Cotton, the show was broadcast live on BBC One, Radio 1 and Radio 2.

It was also screened in Denmark, Japan, Ireland and North America.

Find out more on the BBC Music website.

Listen to tracks by nominated artists on BBC Playlister.

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