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Sheeran and Pharrell win BBC gongs


Ed Sheeran collects the British artist of the year award at the BBC Music Awards at Earl's Court, London

Ed Sheeran collects the British artist of the year award at the BBC Music Awards at Earl's Court, London

Ed Sheeran collects the British artist of the year award at the BBC Music Awards at Earl's Court, London

Chart-topping star Ed Sheeran was named British artist of the year at the BBC Music Awards, to crown a year in which he has become one of the world's biggest pop acts.

But the big winner was Pharrell Williams, taking two of the three main awards, even though he did not actually attend the show staged in London.

Williams, 41, took the international artist prize - beating a diverse bunch of nominees including Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift - and his track Happy was named song of the year.

His no-show last night will be a little embarrassing for the BBC. It had tried to attract some of the biggest names in music to perform but was unable to get one of its chief winners along to the event, which was given a two-hour live slot on BBC1.

Humble Sheeran collected his trophy from Sir Tom Jones, and the 23-year-old said he wanted to say "a massive thank you to everyone who has bought a record, bought a ticket, streamed on YouTube, done anything, listened to my music".

His career has exploded in 2014, and he has become one of the UK's biggest selling stars, scoring the most played album in the world on music streaming service Spotify in 2014.

Reflecting on his year as he collected his trophy, he said: "I always thought my career would stop at one album, so knowing my career is longer than one album is the highlight."

During the show at Earls Court he performed his number one hit Sing, which united the crowd as they chanted along.

Williams accepted his prizes via video link from the US, where he was presented with the trophies by his friend Gwen Stefani.

Taking the international artist prize, he said: "The UK has always been amazing to me and so many other artists who just want to do different things.

"It's been an amazing experience and a great journey," he added, as he thanked his "English" fans.

He beat nine other nominees to take the song award, which was chosen by public vote from a shortlist of the most-played tracks of the year. Others in the running included Sheeran's Sing and Sam Smith's Money On My Mind.

Williams said: "How amazing it is to have a song that is considered among all of the other really, really great songs."

"As writers and producers we are beholden to what the audience thinks and what you guys want to do, so when you say song of the year, really it's not my award - it's your award."

One Direction drew the biggest screams of the night from the 13,500-strong audience after the quintet performed their single Steal My Girl.

But the volume of their fans cheering caused a slight technical problem. As event co-host Fearne Cotton asked band member Louis Tomlinson about the devotion of their fans, he replied: "To be honest, I didn't hear what you said. It's too loud and I've not got you in my ears."

The inaugural event, designed to be a celebration of the best music of the past year, opened with Coldplay performing hit A Sky Full Of Stars, which frontman Chris Martin begin singing as he walked from the backstage area, continuing until he reached the stage to join his band.

Other performers including Ella Henderson, who teamed up with Labrinth, while Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne were backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra for number one single Rather Be, which has become one of the most played songs of 2014.

The two-hour show - screened live on BBC1 - also devoted a lengthy slot at the beginning to plugging the BBC's support for the music industry and advertise the live events and concerts which it broadcasts.

The ceremony also recognised a new generation of performers with a lesser trophy, the BBC Introducing Award, for an up-and-coming act, which went to Catfish And The Bottlemen.

Other artists who played at the event - which saw Chris Evans presenting alongside Cotton - included Paloma Faith and George Ezra.

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