By Marie-louise Gumuchian
LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) – Hitmakers gather in London on Saturday for Britain’s pop music honours, the BRIT awards, where an all-male contender list for the artist of the year prize has cast a shadow over the event’s introduction of gender-neutral categories.
The annual ceremony handed out its inaugural artist of the year and international artist of the year prizes in 2022 – to Adele and Billie Eilish respectively – after organisers got rid of the BRITs’ female and male categories.
This year’s artist of the year nominees are all men – singers Harry Styles and George Ezra, rappers Stormzy and Central Cee, as well as DJ and producer Fred again.. – irking many in the industry and on social media.
A statement on the BRIT Awards’ website said the gender-neutral categories had been introduced so artists were judged “solely on the quality and popularity of their work, rather than on who they are, or how they choose to identify”.
But it added that organisers “acknowledge and share in the disappointment” of no women making the list. “A key factor is that, unfortunately, there were relatively few commercially successful releases by women in 2022 compared to those by men.”
“Of the 71 eligible artists on the longlist, only 12 (17%) are women. We recognise this points to wider issues around the representation of women in music that must also be addressed.”
Last year, women won prizes in 10 of the awards’ 15 categories. Organisers say 42% of this year’s nominations are women or groups featuring women, including Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Lizzo, who are among the five contenders for international artist of the year.
Styles, who last week won the coveted album of the year award at the Grammys, leads nominations alongside indie rock duo Wet Leg, with four nods each.
Both as well as Stormzy, Fred again.. and rockers The 1975 are up for best album.
Nominees for song of the year range from the festive “Merry Christmas” by Ed Sheeran and Elton John, to Lewis Capaldi’s post-break up tune “Forget Me”, Styles’ synth-pop “As It Was” and the Grammy Award-winning “Unholy” by Sam Smith and Kim Petras.