Brit Awards Bosses Share 'Disappointment' Amid Backlash Over All-Male Best Artist Category
Brit Awards statuettes pictured before the event in 2020
Brit Awards organisers have responded to the backlash around this year’s all-male Best British Artist category, in the lead-up to the event on Saturday night.
Last month, it was announced that Central Cee, Fred Again.., George Ezra, Harry Styles and Stormzy had all been nominated in the gender-neutral category, with no women making the shortlist.
This was met with widespread criticism from music fans at the time, with a spokesperson for the Brits previously telling HuffPost UK: “While it’s disappointing there are no nominations in the Artist of the Year category, we also have to recognise that 2022 saw fewer high profile women artists in cycle with major releases as was the case in 2021.
“These trends based around the release schedule are a feature of the music industry, but if, over time, a pattern emerges, then this puts the onus on the industry to deal with this important issue – and the BPI is already carrying out a major study to identify barriers that may inhibit more women becoming successful in music, so that there can be solutions that result in meaningful change.”
With days to go until this year’s Brits are set to take place, a joint statement from the chairs of the 2023 Brits Committee and British Phonographic Industry said they had also been left disappointed with the lack of female representation.
Mo Gilligan will host the Brit Awards for the second time in 2023
They said: “We acknowledge and share in the disappointment that, unlike last year, no women are represented in the [Artist Of The Year] shortlist.
“There may be a number of reasons for this, but a key factor is that, unfortunately, there were relatively few commercially successful releases by women in 2022 compared to those by men, which means that, of the 71 eligible artists on the longlist, only 12 (17%) are women.
“We recognise this points to wider issues around the representation of women in music that must also be addressed.”
To be considered eligible for British Artist Of The Year, an artist must have acquired either a top 40 album or two top 20 singles in the past 12 months.
“We believe that any changes made to Award categories should be carefully evaluated over time,” they continued, pointing out that Adele won the inaugural Artist Of The Year award in 2022, and that women had “triumphed in 10 out of the 15 categories”.
Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama would both have been eligible for Best British Artist in 2023
Best British Artist replaced the previous “male” and “female” categories in 2022, in what was described at the time as a way for the awards show to be “as inclusive as possible”.
Although no women are up for Best British Artist in 2023, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Lizzo have all been nominated in the award’s international counterpart, which is also gender-neutral.
Meanwhile, Grammy-winning indie duo Wet Leg are this year’s joint-leading nominees, alongside Harry Styles, having receiving recognition in several non-gendered categories like Best British Album, Best New Artist and Best British Group.
Wet Leg performing last year
Last month, the Brit Awards faced further backlash when it emerged that no R&B artists had been recognised in the specific Best Pop/R&B Category.
Alluding to this in their statement, organisers concluded: “We recognise that it is important to review each year’s voting processes and categories, including those most recently introduced such as the genre awards, including the Pop/R&B category, which has also prompted some debate, so that they remain fit for purpose in promoting the inclusivity and representation that we all want to see.
“We are wholeheartedly committed to a considered review of the categories over the immediate months following this year’s event, and this will include industry consultation and discussion, in line with what we instigated over the past five years, with any conclusions and actions made ahead of the 2024 event.”
The 2023 Brit Awards will take place at London’s O2 Arena, airing live on ITV1 on Saturday night.