The NME Awards are traditionally the most raucous night of award season, and last night was no exception: fights broke out, champagne was sprayed liberally from the stage, and a bewildered Taylor Swift ended her acceptance speech with ‘this is the craziest awards show I’ve ever been to,’ adding, ‘and I love it so much!’ But one moment got everyone talking.
It began when comedian Katherine Ryan, who was hosting the ceremony alongside DJ Julie Adenuga, started being heckled by Slowthai. For the uninitiated, Slowthai is a 25-year-old rapper, with perfect cheekbones and a Mercury nomination but, let’s just say, you wouldn’t bring him home to meet your mum. He opened the show by performing his single Deal Wiv It: drunk, shirtless and flashing his bum. But, when the heckling of Katherine took a sexual turn, the crowd started feeling uncomfortable.
Slowthai made a series of comments, the most printable of which was: ‘You ain’t never had someone play with you liked I’d play with you.’ Katherine responded with a sarcastic remark about his, er, ‘needle d**k’, to which he leered: ‘come and earn it.’
‘I could do,’ she shot back instantly, ‘or I could just keep earning money and buy my own house without a man.’ The audience cheered, Slowthai became increasingly aggressive, and Katherine shut him down with: ‘You think I’m scared of you? You’re younger than my babysitter.’
The important thing about this incident - that sets it apart from a drunken controversy at any other awards show - is that the person in control of the situation was a woman. Think back to the '90s, and there were no doubt many sleazy comments made by men at music industry events, but they would have been aimed at young women, with little power to fight back. Now it genuinely feels that the tables are turning, with everyone from the Foals to The 1975 talking about equality in their acceptance speeches last night.
Katherine responded to the flood of support on Twitter with this: 'He didn’t make me uncomfortable. This is why we need women in positions of power. I knew he had lost from the moment he opened his mouth like any heckler coming up against a COMIC - not a woman - a COMIC. I was operating 2/10. What a sweet boy. I defused it. Tonight was fun! ❤️'