BMI London Awards Honor Arlo Parks, Ed Sheeran, Inflo, Elton John
Celebrated newcomer Arlo Parks and the singer-producer Inflo were among those receiving special honors at the BMI London Awards, while Elton John and Ed Sheeran received awards for all-time or annual play in the U.K.
The 2021 honors were again held virtually, with many of the winners turning in video acceptance speeches. “To be able to move people and affect positive change is a beautiful thing,” said Parks, accepting the BMI Impact Awards — “given for groundbreaking artistry, creative vision and impact on the future of music” — before contributing a special video performance of “Eugene” accompanied by a lone electric guitarist.
Songwriter-producer Dean “Inflo” Josiah Cover was given the BMI Champion Award, “recognizing his incredible creative accomplishments and powerful contributions to culture, social policy and racial justice through his music.” Inflo is best known for his work with the collective Sault and has been revealed by Adele to be one of the producers of her upcoming album.
The data-driven awards were topped by Tom Barnes picking up the song of the year award for co-writing the global Lewis Capaldi hit “Before You Go.”
BMI was honoring some older songs, as well, as they reached multi-million milestones. Among them were Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and “Love Yourself,” the latter of which was a hit for Justin Bieber.
“These are 6 million plays, 4 million plays [for the two songs, respectively] — that’s pretty wild,” Sheeran said in accepting the plaudits. He gave background on both tunes. Of “Shape of You,” he said, “To be honest, i did not think that song would be a hit, so to be receiving a BMI Award for over 6 million plays is pretty wild. It was written with Rihanna in mind and Lil Mix in mind, and it was me trying to do something that would fit them, basically,” he acknowledged, of a smash that ultimately fit the shape of Sheeran just fine.
“Love Yourself,” he said, was written on the back of a bus with Benny Blanco. “I had just come out of the situation and didn’t want to write a song about it,” he said, grateful that Blanco overruled his reticence to get personal.
Sheeran shared advice for young songwriters, at BMI’s behest. “Don’t dwell too much on the current song. Move to the next one. Write a song and then write another one and then write another one,” he implored. “There’s so many times that i meet people that have their five songs and that’s it… it’s important to have a constant stream of creativity… Don’t be scared to fail, and write as much as possible — and don’t think too much.”
Also in the all-time categories, Elton John was honored for “Bennie And The Jets” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” each reaching 7 million performances in the U.K. and and “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” getting to the 6 million mark.
The BMI London Awards also recognized U.K. and European composers behind the top films, television series and cable and streaming programs in the United States. Icelandic composer Atli Örvarsson dominated this category with six awards for his work on “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Med,” “Chicago Fire,” “FBI,” “FBI: Most Wanted” and “Defending Jacob.”
Among the first-time BMI winners was Joe Alwyn, best known as an actor, receiving recognition for co-writing Taylor Swift’s “Betty.” Ashe was another first-time winner, sharing the award with Niall Horan and Noah Conrad for “Moral of the Story.” Other winners included Sam Smith, Rosalia, the Jonas Brothers, Sly Dunbar, Annie-Marie, Kygo and Steve Winwood (with “Higher Love” being an oldie that snuck in among this year’s most-played songs).
The full list of winners can be found here.
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