In 2016 The Brits came under fire for a lack of diversity in the nominations. As a response to this, grime artist Stormzy fought back by pushing the hashtag #BritsSoWhite as a Twitter trend. This led to other artists also criticising the lack of diversity at the biggest night in British music until head of the BPI, Ged Doherty sat up and paid attention. In 2017 The Brits introduced a new voting system which claims to recognise a diverse group of artists, but how much has really changed?
At this year’s Brits, grime artists such as Kano, Stormzy and Skepta were finally recognised with Album of the Year, British Breakthrough and Male Solo Award nominations. Yet it feels wrong that despite incredible performances and almost universal support from fans and fellow artists alike that not a single grime act managed to take home an award. This seems even more outrageous, for example, when the likes of Rag’n’Bone Man can walk away from the ceremony with two Brits despite only having released one single.
It does feel as if the British music industry is taking a step in the right direction with Skepta deservedly winning the Mercury Prize for his ground breaking album Konnichiwa, and ‘The Godfather of Grime’ Wiley picking up an NME Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. However, there is so much further to go until award shows are truly representative of such a diverse industry.
In addition to criticising the lack of diversity at awards shows, artists all over the world have been voicing their opinions on the state of global politics in 2017. With an audience of millions, the Brits is the perfect place for artists to join with fellow musicians and fans alike against all things Trump related. Katy Perry encompassed this at the Brits by taking to the stage with her controversial skeletons resembling Donald Trump and Theresa May. Music and politics are forever entwined, therefore, it only seems right that artists get the chance to engage with politics at awards shows, however to have a worthy impact their words and actions must be sincere or they will be ignored.
With the world in such a desperate state award shows in 2017 can sometimes feel out of touch with reality. However, it is important that they represent the diverse British music industry and artists keep speaking out against injustices or we become no better than the people we are fighting so hard against.