20th February 2017
Lift fights, celeb selfies and artists snapping awards in two with reckless abandon. Awards season is upon on us, and with that comes a wealth of controversy and social commentary, often zooming in on the awarding bodies and who they choose to celebrate. Leo’s winning of his long-awaited Oscar for his leading role in The Revenant last year followed claims of bad practice two years before when he lost out on Best Actor for The Wolf of Wall Street. The win was widely seen as a patching-up job by The Oscars and consequently, many were left questioning the validity of the long-respected institution. In the world of music, no UK ceremony is more highly anticipated than The Brits and the question being debated by the water cooler this week, are they going to do an Oscars?
Looking back to last year, the lack of racial diversity amongst the 2016 Brits nominees became the subject of heavy debate as soon as the line-up was announced. With no black artists up for any of the main categories, the hashtag #BritsSoWhite quickly started trending, sending the Twittersphere into meltdown. Now, an overhaul of the voting academy has seen The Brits up representation of female nominees from 30% to 48%, and the number of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) invitees from 15% to 17%. This year, there is at least one BAME artist nominated for every award category. In the Best British Breakthrough line-up, friends and Grime artists Skepta and Stormzy go head-to-head, along with Critic’s Choice Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and Manchester indie heroes Blossoms.
After scooping five Grammys last week, it’s baffling to see Lady-of-the-hour Adele only nominated for one award. Transgender alternative artist Anohni (formerly of Anthony and the Johnsons) is nominated for Best British Female and although there’s no denying she has talent, does it compare to the global success of Adele? It’s great to see, and hugely important, that non-cisgender artists are represented in mainstream awards, however, one can’t help but wonder whether The Brits are overcompensating for the lack of diversity last year? We know that it wouldn’t be the first time a high-profile awards ceremony has attempted to right a wrong from a previous year.
The problem lies in that, as soon as people start to discredit The Brits for it’s over political-correctness, deserved BAME winners are discredited too. Here’s to hoping that by turning a whole nation on to the formerly underground Grime genre, Skepta or Stormzy win the Best British Breakthrough category based on talent alone. Over to the public vote.