Brit awards: all-male best artist category reveals wider music industry sickness | Brit awards

M.Anyone who sees awards ceremonies as arbiters of social progress would be fooled, but when Britain’s awards scrapped gender categories in 2021, it looked like industry heavyweights were on the right track. .

The decision comes after Sam Smith, who came out as non-binary in 2019, won three times and was nominated nine times, automatically qualifying for the best British men’s and women’s categories that year. Dropped after being excluded. , has always been – a shoo-in for the perception of statistically-minded Britons.

Nine months later, the British conceded that Smith was correct and replaced those categories with a general Best Artist award and a new genre-specific award. The first year was won by Adele, who defeated Little Sims, Ed Sheeran, Dave and Sam Fender. However, as of the second year, all five candidates are male. Central Cee, Stormzy, Fred Again, George Ezra and Harry Styles.

Sam Smith at the 2019 Brit Awards. Photo: Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

The Brits, run by British Phonographic Industry, a trade body for the UK music industry, reflected a commercial performance and issued a warning of the inevitability of the situation. Following the backlash, a spokesperson admitted that the lack of women and non-binary acts in the category was “disappointing”, but added: Same as in 2021. ”

It may be less, but it’s never zero. To be eligible for this award, an artist must have at least one of her Top 40 albums or two of her Top 20 singles during the eligibility period (December 10, 2021 through her December 9, 2022). must have been achieved. So Beth Orton, Charlie XCX, Emery Sande, Florence + the Machine, Kae Tempest, KT Tunstall, and Mabel are all qualified and in the spotlight. There are also new acts including guitarist Viva Dooby, Dance Her star Becky Hill, empowerment pop star Ella Henderson, songwriter Nina Nesbitt, alternative pop star Rina Sawayama, and sensual producer Shy Girl.

Personally, I’d trade Shy Girl for the painfully mundane Fred Again and the intriguingly mature Florence for George Ezra (who’s come that far, but still has his feet on Kid Pop). , would trade boundary-pushing pop star Charlie XCX for extravagant Harry Styles outfits.-up AOR. But aside from who is nominated, the fact that she only occupies 12 of the 71 acts for which female artists and non-binary artists are eligible poses a bigger problem than the awards ceremony. is showing.

In a statement, BPI said, “We are already conducting major research to identify the barriers that may prevent more women from succeeding in music, and we are committed to finding solutions that bring about meaningful change. Given that the BPI and the UK music industry are essentially one and the same, you would suspect that you are already aware of the obvious and obvious barriers. The list of eligible women shows a clear split. Here’s a pop star who came out over a decade ago, pre-streamed, and had the chance to establish a proper career and a supportive fanbase that allowed her artistic growth and even failure: Her 2022 in Florence The 2008 album Dance Fever continues the artistic streak she started. 2018’s High As Hope; has more international recognition than anyone but her Styles).

Rina Sawayama in Melbourne, Australia, January 2023.
Rina Sawayama held in Melbourne, Australia this month. Photo: Richard Nicholson/Rex/Shutterstock

On the same side are independent artists Beabadoobee, Nesbitt, Shygirl, Sawayama and Tempest, trusted by the label to bring their respective visions to life. Also worth noting is Orton, who spent six years there from Kidsticks in 2016 to Weather Alive last year. They all have time on their side.

Then there are the newer pop girls: Mabel, Hill, and Henderson, all of whom have been around since the mid-2010s, are all major-label signed, highly successful singles charters, and former Brit nominees. is won by Hill and Mabel. ). Still, they each have to wait several years to release a full-length album or a follow-on record, resulting in the loss of the standing boost they gained from those nominations and a slowing career. It reveals how Major develops new male and female artists differently, with Tom Grennan (who has previously collaborated with Henderson) also having some of his biggest hits as a guest vocalist. The risk-averse label management doesn’t seem to have ambitions for post-streaming rates for women beyond cheap Friday night hits.

One might argue that club fees like theirs don’t lend themselves to the album format, especially in the singles-oriented streaming era, but one is that Mabel’s 2022 album, About Last Night, is a Pretty good. Ray undermines the proposal. In June 2021, she launched her own label, Polydor, Dance Her Bangers Her Lane Lead Her Artist Or Guest Her 10 Top 40 Hits In Her Five Years As Her Artist Despite recording her debut, she tweeted that she had withheld her album. A month later, the parties parted amicably and Ray continued her activities as an independent artist. Her subsequent work has been excellent, especially for her time on the major label her system, with sharp production and dark themes, and the week before last she released her Escapism featuring 070 Shake. It was her first solo single and her number one. Her clear success reveals the limitations of Major Her Label’s vision for young female musicians. Her debut album, My 21st Century Blues, is eagerly awaited next month for her, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see her in her nominations for next year’s Brit.

Cat Burns performing in London in July 2022.
Cat Burns performing in London in July 2022. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Pride In London

This is not an argument for reviving gender categories – the international Artist of the Year cohort is Beyoncé, Burna Boy, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo and Taylor Swift.Commercial success while reflecting the field in which artists compete.

This year’s nominations further disrupted the Pop/R&B category introduced last year. At the time, some fans and musicians like Mahalia were reins in combining two separate art forms, but at least the nominated artists include her R&B-ish musician from Joy Crooks. included one of the This year includes absolutely nothing, but I think BPI thought young black musician Kat He Burns would tick that box. Producer he MNEK tweeted: [general population] Cat is black and you would think she is R&B. ”

Despite outward attempts to break down boundaries between artists, it is clear that the British are as committed to pigeonholing as ever. Given that today’s musicians and fans ignore genre divisions and identity barriers, it certainly and understandably leads them down a meaningless path.

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