LONDON — Madonna has given music fans a shock when she tumbled down several stairs at the Brit Awards.
The 56-year-old queen of pop was closing Wednesday’s ceremony in London with a performance of her song “Living For Love.”
Madonna entered with a troupe of male dancers and appeared to fumble with a long, flowing cloak she was wearing. A member of the troupe yanked on the garment, which was tied at the neck, but rather than come off it pulled Madonna backward down three steps while her dancers looked on, seemingly in shock.
In a post on Instagram after the performance, Madonna said she was doing OK.
“My beautiful cape was tied too tight! But nothing can stop me and love really lifted me up!” she wrote. “Thanks for your good wishes! I’m fine!”
The song includes a lyric about stumbling, then continues “I’m gonna carry on” — and Madonna did, continuing the matador-themed routine.
The fall drew an instant, and mostly sympathetic, reaction from ceremony attendees and television viewers.
“I feel for her,” singer Ashley Roberts told ITV news. “She’s a pro, though, and she kept going.”
Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran each won a pair of prizes Wednesday at Britain’s leading music awards — but it took Kanye West to introduce some edge, with a song that proved too strong for television.
Elsewhere there were few surprises at the awards, which recognize international stars along with homegrown British talent.
Tousle-haired singer Sheeran won prizes for best British male solo artist and British album of the year, for “X.” Soulful crooner Smith won trophies for British breakthrough act and global success.
“Since I was a little kid I dreamed of people all over the world singing my songs,” Smith said. “This shows I’m stepping in the right direction.”
The 22-year-old Smith won four Grammys earlier this month, including record of the year for “Stay With Me.”
Smith was sultry and Sheeran was sensible, but West provided a dose of raw energy. He performed his raw, grime-influenced new song “All Day,” whose lyrics, peppered with expletives and the n-word, were muted for the show’s live TV broadcast.
West has said his new clothing line was influenced by the 2011 London riots, and the performance also had an urban-unrest feel, involving dozens of dancers and a giant flamethrower.
It has been a big year for British music, with Smith storming the Grammys and artists like Sheeran, baby-faced singer-songwriter George Ezra and the still-ubiquitous One Direction making waves.
The Brits were once renowned for chaos, enlivened by incidents including a 1992 stunt in which British band the KLF left a dead sheep at the after-show dinner. But the ceremony has been transformed in recent years into a slick talent showcase.
Since I was a little kid I dreamed of people all over the world singing my songs. This shows I’m stepping in the right direction
West aside, the tone of the evening was accomplished but not edgy, opening with a sleekly saucy performance of “Blank Space” by a black-clad Taylor Swift.
Swift was named best international female artist, while “Happy” hit-maker Pharrell Williams was named best international male act, and Foo Fighters won the trophy for international group. Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” took the prize for best British single.
Jill Lawless, The Associated Press