When will the BRITs start giving female artists the recognition they deserve?
This year’s BRIT Awards saw a progressive leap in the representation of black artists; long overdue credit was given to Stormzy for the British Male Artist award and Tyler, the Creator for International Male, for example. Finally, it seems, the BRITs are taking notice of past discriminatory views which leaned only in favour of white artists and are moving forward to becoming a fairer and more inclusive show. Alongside this came many talking points raised at the ceremony: Dave labelled Boris Johnson a “real racist” and Tyler, the Creator gave a shout out to Theresa May who banned him from entering the country five years ago whilst she was Home Secretary. One of the biggest talking points, however, is the fact that the ceremony is still not entirely inclusive, and the underrepresentation of female artists still remains. This is despite Matt Healy, of the 1975, calling out the industry as a whole on this type of inequality and misogyny at last year’s BRITs, using words written by The Guardian’s Laura Snapes.
You would think that at the 40th Anniversary of the award show, the BRITs would have made more of an effort to showcase an equal amount of talent between male and female artists, but only three out of ten winners were female, two being awards for female specific categories: Mabel for British Female and Billie Eilish for International Female. The Rising Star award was deservedly given to Celeste, who blessed us with a mesmerising solo performance of “Strange” with deep intimacy and fantastic artistic simplicity. This true demonstration of female talent was juxtaposed with the remainder of the evening heavily dominated by men. It is not hard to look at the statistics of the awards in disbelief as all four of the mixed gender categories resulted in male winners. What makes this even more shocking is that there was only one female nominee: Mabel, proving that the BRITs have massively overlooked and ignored the wealth of female talent showcased in 2019. The likes of Charli XCX, FKA twigs, Dua Lipa, Jade Bird, Marika Hackman, just to name a few, were all worthy of celebration at the award show. It is, not just a shame, but infuriating to see artists, such as these, disregarded as there was ample opportunity for them to be recognised. Instead, Lewis Capaldi, though highly popular, took home two awards: Best New Artist and Best Song for “Someone You Loved”, a predictable song, hugely overplayed (inevitably the reason for Capaldi’s win) and uninteresting in comparison to some of the works of female artists which could have taken that award.
A few relevant comments were made at the evening’s show; upon receiving his award, Stormzy said, “to be the best male, I have got the most incredible females in my team”, a nod to the women working behind the scenes, and was rightly met with a round of applause. Similarly, Foals’ Yannis Philippakis mentioned in their acceptance speech, “hopefully next year we’ll see some more women in this category”, and Paloma Faith sarcastically remarked, “we’re here to announce a very underrepresented group tonight, the men!”. I would say that hopefully next year will be different, but the promise sparked by the conversation after last year’s BRITs, propelled by Laura Snapes and Matt Healy, fell through as this year has been worse than ever. These types of casual comments shown at the 2020 award show simply acknowledge the gender divide, but they are not enough. There needs to be more discussion and uproar as demonstrated with #BritsSoWhite for change to begin.