Ed Sheeran celebrates after receiving the British Album of the Year award at the O2 Arena in London
By Liisa Tuhkanen
LONDON (Reuters) - The top British music awards went to young men on Wednesday as Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith bagged the most important trophies in a star-studded Brit Awards show in London.
But the grand dame of pop music, Madonna, who performed at the ceremony for the first time in two decades, almost stole the show despite tripping off the stage in the middle of her new single "Living for Love".
English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was the biggest winner of the night, walking away with two of the four Brit Awards he was nominated for.
He was named the best British solo artist and also took home the coveted best album prize for his second studio album, "X".
The 24-year-old looked genuinely surprised as he mounted the stage to collect the trophy, a pale pink statuette designed by British artist Tracey Emin.
"I didn't expect it... It's been a very good year for British music", he said.
Soul singer Sam Smith, who was nominated for five Brits and competed with Sheeran for the best album, topped off his recent four Grammy wins with a Global Success award and British Breakthrough trophy.
The 22-year-old, who has spoken about his breakthrough album being inspired by heartbreak, had a word of advice for James Bay, winner of this year's Critics' Choice Award.
"Just get dumped. Immediately," Smith quipped.
Other winners included Paloma Faith for British female artist and rock duo Royal Blood, who defeated popular boy band One Direction to be named the best British band.
Award for the best international female artist went to Taylor Swift, who opened the show. The pop-heavy ceremony also saw performances from Take That, Kanye West and George Ezra.
This year, the awards will be shown in over 100 territories across the world in addition to the usual live broadcast on Britain's commercial ITV network.
(This version of the story corrects Sam Smith's Grammy win total to four, paragraph 7)
(Editing by Eric Walsh)