Brit Awards remove male and female categories

By Mark Savage
BBC Music Correspondent

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption

Dua lipa won the Brits for best female and best song.

J Hus and Dua Lipa will be remembered as the Brit Awards’ last male and female winners.

The reason is that, starting next year, both categories will merge into one prize for the best British artist. Organisers say so.

Will Young and Sam Smith, two artists who have called for change in the past, said that the current system does not allow non-binary artists to participate.

Smith was not considered non-binary and therefore missed the nominations at this year’s awards.

Love Goes reached number 2 in the UK charts, but the band felt they couldn’t enter the categories based on gender.

The star who called for the awards was writing on Instagram that day. It shows how the stars are more reflective of our society.

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Smith wrote in an unpublished post that “The Brits are an important part my career.” For me, music has always meant unification and not division.

I look forward to the day when awards shows will reflect our society. Let us celebrate everyone, regardless of race, gender, age or ability.

Since 1977, the Brits have given prizes according to gender since then. Although the prize distribution was to be reviewed in 2019, the British organizers have not changed the categories of male and female winners.

The change was announced in a statement. They stated that the celebration of artists is about celebrating their work and music, not how others see them.

The international category will see the same shift. The best international male or female awards, won this year by Billie Eilish and The Weeknd respectively, will now be replaced with a single international best artist prize.

Female artists will suffer

At first, concerns were raised about whether the changes would marginalize female performers. However, other awards in music suggest this should never happen.

In 2017, the MTV Video Music Awards added an overall best artist award to replace its male and female best prizes. Since then, the winners were Ed Sheeran and Camila Cabello as well as Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber.

The Grammys also merged the male and female categories for best pop vocal, country vocal and R&B vocal performances in 2012. The prizes were split 50/50 over the past 10 years.

The Brits has awarded the best album prize, which is gender neutral, to female solo artists ten times and male solo artists nine times.

Although bands have been awarded best albums 22 times, only Stereo MC’s and Fairground Attraction have had a female member.

If it were in place, Dua Lipa could have probably won a combined award. Adele will likely sweep next year’s board.

She is a leading contender for best album and best artist. Her brand new album 30 will be the most successful album in 2021.

But that’s just one change…

Brits also reduced the number of artist prizes, which allowed them to introduce genre-based awards for the first times since 2006.

The awards cover pop, rock and dance as well as rap. The Brits will not distribute prizes on the basis of votes by music industry insiders.

At the time the awards were distributed, 15 years ago the winners included Lemar (best Urban Act), Kaiser Chiefs and James Blunt (“best Pop”).

Even longer has the prize for best dance been missing – Basement Jaxx was the last to receive it in 2004.

These changes will be made shortly before the British open their voting on December 10, 2010.

The next ceremony, which will be held on the 8th of February 2022 in London’s O2 arena will be hosted by Mo Gilligan (comedian) who will succeed Jack Whitehall.

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