‘He’s never worked a day in his life!’: Paul McCartney honours Bruce Springsteen at Ivor Novello awards

<span>Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney at the Ivor Novello awards.</span><span>Photograph: Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney at the Ivor Novello awards.Photograph: Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/REX/Shutterstock

Bruce Springsteen was the top honouree at the 2024 Ivor Novello awards, given an Academy fellowship – the first international artist to be handed that accolade.

Paul McCartney presented him with the award in a playful speech: “I couldn’t think of a more fitting recipient,” he said. “Except maybe Bob Dylan. Or Paul Simon, or Billy Joel, or Beyoncé, or Taylor Swift. The list goes on … He’s known as the American working man, but he admits he’s never worked a day in his life.” He reminisced about the pair’s performance together on Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage in 2022, calling Springsteen “a lovely boy”.

In his acceptance speech, Springsteen acknowledged some quintessentially inclement British weather he’d faced when playing live in Sunderland the previous night. “We came out last night, and I was like: what is this weather? Driving rain, wind roaring. But standing in front of me, in the rain, I realised: these are my people.”

Raye continues her award-winning success over the last year by being named songwriter of the year at the awards, given to the best in British and Irish songwriting and screen composition.

Her win comes after the genre-straddling singer won a record-breaking six categories at the Brit awards in March, including its own songwriter of the year category – she championed songwriters’ rights on stage at that ceremony, arguing for a larger share of song royalties. Her album My 21st Century Blues, full of candid lyricism across a range of pop styles, reached No 2 in the UK and produced a chart-topping single that also found huge US success, Escapism. She was nominated for the Mercury prize, and since My 21st Century Blues came out in February 2023 she has released a live version recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, toured extensively and co-written Riiverdance on Beyoncé’s album Cowboy Carter. Ivors judges described her as the “voice of a generation”.

Raye was beaten to the best album Ivor Novello award by jazz drummer Yussef Dayes for his LP Black Classical Music – arguably a surprising win at the Ivors given its relative lack of songwriting, with only four of 19 tracks featuring lyrics. Judges celebrated “its narrative arc that propels the listener forward, using a modern lens to reframe the format of instrumental music”. Dayes has long been a celebrated figure in London’s energetic jazz scene and capped the release of his album with a set at the Royal Albert Hall. He was also Brit-nominated this year, in the alternative/rock category.

The award for best song musically and lyrically was given to Victoria Canal and her track Black Swan, a piano-based lament whose lyrical metaphors and musical structure were praised by judges, beating the likes of Blur and Sampha. It’s the second win in a row for Canal, who last year was given the rising star award – that category was won this year by versatile indie-popper Master Peace.

Speakers Corner Quartet, a group who evolved out of a spoken word event in Brixton, won best contemporary song for Geronimo Blues, featuring lyrics by Kae Tempest, who reflects on living amid the cruelty and ironies of contemporary interconnected life and politics.

Dave and Central Cee won most performed work for Sprinter, acknowledging the playful rap track’s status as the most ubiquitous hit of summer 2023, though rap more broadly was shut out of the nominations in the main categories.

Jerskin Fendrix was unexpectedly launched from the corners of south London’s alternative music scene to international success as the writer of the score for Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things – he was Oscar- and Bafta-nominated for it, and now wins best original film score at the Ivors. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, composed by Stephen Barton and Gordy Haab, won the equivalent video game category, while Arthur Sharpe won best television soundtrack for The Following Events are Based on a Pack of Lies.

Other awards acknowledging overall contributions to music went to Lana Del Rey, Skepta, KT Tunstall and Bernie Taupin.

The awards are voted for by the Ivors Academy, made up of songwriters and composers. Its chair, Tom Gray, said: “We know that because they are chosen by our peers, our awards are incredibly meaningful to their recipients.”