The Brit Awards eliminate the male and female categories
by Mark Savage
BBC Music Correspondent
- Brit Awards
Dua Lipa and J Hus will go down in history as the latest stars to win the best male and female awards at the Brit Awards.
This is because, from next year, the two categories will be combined into a single award for the best British artist, the organizers said.
Artists like Sam Smith and Will Young had previously called for the change, stating that the current system excludes non-binary artists.
Smith, who isn’t binary, missed out on a nomination for this year’s awards.
Their album, Love Goes, peaked at number two on the UK chart, but they felt unable to break into the genre-based categories.
Writing on Instagram at the time, the star demanded that the shows be more “reflective of the society we live in”.
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“The British have been a big part of my career,” Smith said in a now deleted post. “Music for me has always been about unification, not division.
“I’m looking forward to a time when award shows can reflect the society we live in. We celebrate everyone, regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class.”
The Brits have been awarding prizes along the gender lines since they started in 1977. The organizers have promised to review how the prizes are in 2019, but have kept the men’s and women’s categories intact until now.
In a statement announcing the change, they said the move was about “celebrating artists solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify them or how others might view them.”
The change will also be reflected in the international category, where the best international male and female awards – won this year by The Weeknd and Billie Eilish – will be replaced by a single award for the best international artist.
Will the artists suffer from it?
When the change was first suggested, it was feared that it might marginalize female acts. But experiences from other music awards suggest it shouldn’t happen.
The MTV Video Music Awards replaced her best male and female awards with an overall best artist award in 2017 – since the winners have been Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.
The Grammys also combined the male and female categories for the best pop, country and R&B vocal performances in 2012. In the 10 years since then, the awards have been split exactly 50/50 between men and women.
At the Brits, the gender-neutral award for best album has been won 10 times by female solo artists and nine times by male solo artists.
The bands have won best album 22 times, but only two of them contained a female member: Fairground Attraction and Stereo MC’s.
Dua Lipa would likely have won a combined award had it been in effect this year, and Adele is likely to sweep the board next year.
Singer’s new album 30, which is set to have its biggest opening week of 2021, will make her a top contender for both album of the year and best artist award.
That’s not the only change …
The reduction in the number of artist awards has also allowed the British to reintroduce genre-based awards for the first time since 2006.
Covering pop, rock, dance and rap, the awards will be voted on by fans – a departure for Brits, who typically hand out awards based on votes from music industry insiders.
When the awards were last released 15 years ago, the winners included Kaiser Chiefs (best rock), Lemar (best urban act) and James Blunt (best pop).
The best dance award was absent for even longer, with the latest winner being Basement Jaxx in 2004.
The renewals come shortly before the opening of the polls for the British, on 10 December.
The next ceremony will take place on February 8, 2022 at London’s O2 Arena, first hosted by comedian Mo Gilligan, who will take over from Jack Whitehall.
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