The 31-year-old singer, who turned heads at this year’s BRIT Awards with their jaw dropping fetishcore-inspired outfit, left fans distraught, anxious, and disappointed after mysteriously disappearing from stage four songs into their show in Manchester last night on 24 May 2023.
Smith, who prior to the show had teased fans with the promise of a surprise appearance from Madonna, exited the stage due to “vocal issues.”
Fans weren’t clued in straight away, and anxiously awaited the pop star’s return, sparking rumours that there may have been a power cut at the stadium. However, after hanging around for some time, the news was broken to the fans that Smith would be unable to perform and everyone was asked to leave the arena.
Smith later took to Instagram to address what had happened and to apologise to the many disappointed fans.
Their heartfelt statement revealed: “During my third song, I noticed something wrong with my voice. I prayed it was just my voice waking up for the show but into the fourth song I could feel something was really wrong.”
The BRIT Award nominee finished by saying: “I came off stage and have tried everything to get my voice back in gear but it won’t. I am honestly heartbroken I couldn’t finish the show tonight for you all. I love you all. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.”
While vocal strain is often unpredictable and not something to be trifled with, fans were understandably frustrated with the cancellation, especially given the lack of transparency at a venue as significant as Manchester Arena.
Many Sam Smith-obsessed netizens expressed that the situation was triggering and anxiety-inducing, given that the anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack had only been three days prior. One user wrote: “Not fair to cause so much unnecessary worry and anxiety with such a significant week in Manchester.”
A singer’s voice is something precious to protect, and while Smith has described themselves as “heartbroken” over the fiasco, it definitely left fans sad and understandably anxious as they waited around in a dimmed arena for Smith to return to the stage. Surely Madonna could have come out and finished the show?
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.