BRIT Awards Take One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

BRIT Awards Take One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

Words Demie Tuzara

2017 vs 2018

A comparison of last year’s nominations to this year shows that there’s an evident lack of diversity in the 38th Edition of the annual British music awards.

The nominees for the 2018 BRIT Awards have been announced and there have been bold reactions on the diversity in the categories. Or lack thereof. Last year saw the disappointment in the music awards show when, despite nominating artists with different ethnic backgrounds, saw a backlash in the lack of people of colour actually winning any of the categories.

The #BritsSoWhite is nearly two years old and was created in 2016 to protest the award show when it failed to nominate a single person of colour in any major category. Fast forward to 2018, it seems that the hashtag is still relevant today.

As the announcement of this year’s nominations was released, a read through the names has us wondering where the rest of the BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) artists deserving of, not just nominations but, winner status are.

The British Breakthrough Act saw potential in a more diversified category as it included an array of talent ranging from rappers Dave and J Hus (also nominated for British Album of the Year), hip-hop artist Loyle Carner (also nominated for British Male Solo Artist) and singer-songwriter Sampha. Another BAME musician nominated in two categories is grime artist, Stormzy, under the British Male Solo Artist and Album of the Year with his debut studio album, Gang Signs & Prayers.

The rest of the ‘British’ nominations – Female Solo Artist, Group, Single of the Year, Video of the Year did not follow the same pattern with evident omissions of BAME talents in said categories.

Whilst the International Male Solo Artist was dominated by music acts of African-American heritage such as Childish Gambino, Drake and Kendrick Lamar and Palestinian descent DJ Khaled, once again the same cannot be said about the other categories in the ‘International’ bracket.

Opposing the number of nominees in a category is Alicia Keys as the only woman of colour under the International Female Solo Artist category. This is a clear contrast to the music acts of last year when Beyoncé, Solange and Rihanna were all nominated.

One would think ‘international artists’ would comprise of a variety of music acts around the globe. However, this is not the case. The International Group category for 2018 is a blanket of white, an obvious contrast to the international nominees of last year comprising of A Tribe Called Quest, Drake and Future.

Although there’s an apparent procedure on how the nominees are chosen, “adhering to strict list of rules – all under the scrutiny of the ERS (Electoral Reform Services)”, it makes us wonder how genuine the nature of these eligibility test might be.

Out of the 42 nominated artists, only 12 stand-alone acts are BAME which, once again, is a contrast to last year where a total of 17 artists were nominated. In perspective, it’s potentially an entire category short of talented people of colour.

This is not to discredit the achievements; accolades, record sales, sell out shows etc. of the current music scene. This is to acknowledge that the music industry is changing and immensely thriving with amazing BAME talents but they are simply being neglected.

It seems as though the BRIT Awards are taking one step forward and two steps back in terms of diversity and representing BAME in the media. Only time will tell whether or not this year’s award show will make a difference or simply just be a repetition of last year.

Tune in on 21st February 2018 on ITV to watch the television coverage of the award show.