Perhaps everybody’s most immediate criticism of this year’s Grammys ceremony was the "woke" attitudes presented in the nominations, and the subsequent let down of the winners. Perhaps the most jarring shock was when the Best Pop Solo Performance award went to Ed Sheeran, the only man in a group of women. The award went to a song about objectifying a woman ("Shape of You"), at a moment in entertainment when women are saying #TimesUp on inequality and workplace harassment. Even the night's biggest award, Album of the Year, only saw one female nominee, Lorde, who wasn't offered a chance to perform solo like her fellow category mates. Remember, this is also the ceremony that one year prior snubbed the black excellence of Beyonce’s Lemonade in favor of a “popular vote” Adele sweep, leaving everyone – Adele included – feeling that an injustice had been served.
In the end, it turned out that the new, more socially attuned Grammys failed to deliver on their promise of representation. The ceremony was a glorified sausage fest, dominated by hetero dudes while the women of the night failed to get the shine they deserved.
But across the pond, the United Kingdom’s greatest and most prolific music award ceremony, The BRITS, managed to get almost everything right when they dished out awards on Wednesday evening.
The thing is, we award our artists based on their creative merit — not just their cultural currency. While Bruno Mars was churning out hit after hit, performing at the halftime show at the Superbowl and selling shed loads of albums, the women in pop were creating much more impactful, meaningful music that the Grammys failed to recognize properly. Surely, those women deserved at least one of the six awards he took home?
From our perspective in the UK, The Grammys seem to vie for headlines, and openly embrace one artist sweeping the boards rather than a collection of greater, more deserving ones all fairly getting a piece each. That’s the way we like to do it. The most nominated artist at this year’s ceremony was, thankfully, a woman: Dua Lipa, pop music’s most fawned over new star, was up for five prizes. She took home two.
While it’s not always been this way (the decision makers do have to strike a balance between mainstream pop and more "laudable" music), it was refreshing to see the approach to dishing out awards feel like a celebration of talent, rather than how much time someone had spent nabbing press coverage.
Our approach to diversity feels like a reflection of our country’s creative bloodline, rather than an example of industry "tokenism," with categories like the British Breakthrough Act being dominated by men of color. Dave, J Hus, Sampha and Loyle Carner all nabbed a nomination – with Dua Lipa, who took the crown, thrown in for good measure.