When the Brit Awards first announced that it would scrap its separate male and female categories for Best Artist and Best International Artist in a bid to make it as “inclusive and relevant as possible,” in turn replacing it with a gender-neutral approach starting from 2022, the news was praised by artists and media alike.
This potentially groundbreaking move came after the backlash the annual music ceremony had received in 2020 for only featuring one British woman across the mixed categories of British album, group, song and new artist, and the fact that for the following year’s ceremony, non-binary British pop singer Sam Smith was left out of the gendered categories for solo artist.
Sadly however, with the recent release of the Brit Awards 2023 nominees comes the disappointing realisation that things haven’t changed one bit. This year, the artist of the year nominees are all male, and people are not having it—rightly so.
The Best Artist nominees are Stormzy, Harry Styles, George Ezra, Fred again, and Central Cee. Meanwhile, the Album of the Year category is also dominated by men, with Wet Leg being the only female act out of the contenders. At least the Best International Artist award is more mixed, with the list featuring Beyoncé, Lizzo, and Taylor Swift.
Last year, at the first ceremony to implement the changes, Adele took home Best Artist, Best Album and Best Song, while Wolf Alice won Best Group. But this year’s list can only be viewed as regressive—making the slight progress seen in 2022 appear much more like a PR stunt than a meaningful act of change.
On social media, countless netizens have taken it upon themself to denounce the clear lack of diversity and representation displayed by the Brit Awards’ latest nominations, naming the female artists who deserved to be recognised among the male-dominated list—and we’re not even mentioning the fact that gender-neutral individuals are nowhere in sight either.
Looking at 2023’s Best Pop/R&B Act nominees, another issue shows its ugly face. The category, which was introduced in 2022 alongside three more genre-specific awards to ensure a wider array of British talents receive recognition, features no R&B artists this year, despite the genre being mentioned in its title.
Instead, Cat Burns, Charli XCX, Dua Lipa—who did not release any original solo material in 2022—Styles, and Smith are all up for the award.
It should be noted however that the Brit Awards have made some firsts this year, such as nominating Smith and trans musician Kim Petras for their single ‘Unholy’. The girl band Blackpink has also become the first Kpop group to be recognised by the annual music ceremony, with a nomination for Best International Group, while Encanto’s ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ is the first-ever Disney song to be shortlisted for a category, appearing in the Best International Song category.
The Brit Awards 2023 ceremony will take place on 11 February, hosted for the second year running by comedian Mo Gilligan. A word of advice? Expect a whole lot more controversy to come.
The annual People’s Choice Awards was held on Wednesday 7 December at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California and, as is tradition with such celebrity gatherings, by the following morning, Google News was brimming with the media’s in-depth analysis and an hour-by-hour breakdown of the evening’s proceedings. While some publications may have decided to focus their attention on the see-through nature of Olivia Wilde’s dress, we believe it’s more important to emphasise the sheer impact of Lizzo’s acceptance speech—during which she amplified the voices of 17 incredible global activists.
Accepting the award for People’s Champion, Lizzo—staying true to the recognition itself—welcomed 17 activists on stage, all women, to share the accolade. The singer and unofficial queen of the people began her speech and stated: “To be an icon is not about how long you’ve had your platform. Being an icon is what you do with that platform. And ever since the beginning of my career, I’ve used my platform to amplify marginalised voices.”
All 17 individuals invited on stage have been champions of activism within their own respective fields and were all individually recognised by Lizzo. The Grammy Award-winning artist began by introducing 15-year-old Amariyanna Copeny—also known as Little Miss Flint—who spent the past eight years campaigning to ensure the population of Flint, Michigan have access to clean drinking water.
Moving down the line, the ‘About Damn Time’ singer also shined light upon Yasmine Aker, an American-Iranian grassroots activist who has been utilising her platform to spread awareness about the women-led protests in Iran. Felicia “Fe” Montes is a Xicana Indigenous artist who has created a safe space for Indigenous women of colour to express themselves freely.
Another notable mention came for Jayla Rose Sullivan, a professional dancer who’s been a crucial presence within the non-binary and trans community and recently competed in the singer, rapper, and flute enthusiast’s TV show Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. In the series, which started airing in March 2022, a troupe of individuals are put to the test, battling it out to try and secure a spot as one of Lizzo’s backup dancers.
Among the other individuals were champions of HIV awareness and trans rights, the protection of muslim women, abortion rights, and gun regulation. Tamika Palmer—the mother of Breonna Taylor who was fatally shot in 2020 by a police officer—was also present as a representative for both her daughter and the global fight against police violence.
Lizzo concluded her acceptance speech by exclaiming: “Give them their flowers, power will always be to the people!”
A vast number of supporters took to TikTok to share their appreciation for the artist’s public recognition of these activists who are often overlooked by mainstream media. One user aptly wrote: “When we say ‘use your platform’ to celebrities, this is what we mean. You are making waves and all of these beautiful people are doing so much for this country and their local communities. Queens, all of them.”