May 12, 2021
The industry acknowledged megastars but didn’t solely reward commercial success, and is finally nurturing more than a small handful of female artists
2021’s Brit awards showed pop can have it all: success, quality and diversity
You could, if you were so inclined, look on this year’s Brit winners as a reaction to last year’s. The gender disparity in the 2020 nominations – in the mixed-gender categories, one British female artist got a nod in a field of 25 available slots – overshadowed the event itself: “In the spirit of sustainability, the Brits have been recycling all sorts of excuses for why there were so few Women nominated,” offered comedian Jack Whitehall, not on a topical TV panel show, but in the middle of hosting the awards themselves. But this year, at a ceremony visibly struggling with the remaining Covid restrictions – an audience of key workers, flecked with empty seats, that appeared to be miles away from the action; the weird sight of the people doling out the awards standing two metres away from each other, as if they’d had a furious row shortly before coming onstage – six out of seven winners in mixed gender categories were female: only Harry Styles’ British single award for the ubiquitous Watermelon Sugar broke the trend.
There’s doubtless someone drafting an angry tweet about woke box-ticking, but if so, they won’t have been paying attention to the charts over the last year. The Brits exist to reward success – you can be nominated for most of the awards only if you’ve had a Top 40 album or two Top 20 singles in the eligibility period – and so this correction is more a reflection of the quality of female artists that have succeeded in the last year.
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