Brit Awards organisers set to review gender-neutral prizes following backlash

The all-male list of nominees for Best Artist at the Brit Awards 2023
The all-male list of nominees for Best Artist at the Brit Awards 2023   -   Copyright  AP/Canva
By Theo Farrant  & AP

The nominations for this year's Brit Awards have sparked huge debate online after no women were nominated for the Best Artist category. 

All five nominees for the prize are men: Stormzy, Central Cee, Fred Again, George Ezra and Harry Styles. 

This comes after the Brit Awards made a landmark move in 2021 to eliminate gendered categories in an effort to be more inclusive, following calls from artists such as Sam Smith and Will Young to make the award show gender-neutral. 

Sam Smith, who came out as non-binary in 2019 and uses they/them pronouns, was automatically excluded from that year's Best British Male and Female categories, despite being a highly successful artist who would typically be considered for such prizes. 

Joel C Ryan/Invision
Adele on stage to accept her award for Artist of the Year at the Brit Awards 2022Joel C Ryan/Invision

While last year's gender-neutral Best Artist prize was won by Adele, many on social media are calling this year's nominations a step back in progress and a snub to female artists like Charlie XCX, Florence + The Machine and Mabel, who were all eligible for a nomination and enjoyed high-profile releases in 2022. 

In order to be eligible, an artist must have achieved at least one top 40 album or two top 20 singles that were released between 10 December 2021 and 9 December 2022.

And while women outnumber men in the Best New Artist category (previously won by Little Simz) and two female-led bands, Wet Leg and Nova Twins, earned spots in the Group of the Year category, four out of five nominees for the coveted Album of the Year prize are men. 

A Brits Awards spokesperson responded to the controversy in an interview, saying: "While it's disappointing there are no nominations in the Artist of the Year category, we also have to recognise that 2022 saw fewer high profile women artists in cycle with major releases, as was the case in 2021." 

Reactions to the Brit Award nominations:

Sam Smith has responded to the controversy over the male-dominated Best Artist category. 

"Things are moving forward, but it's obvious it's not there yet. From seeing that [best artist] list, there is still a long way to go," they said in a recent interview. 

The Brit Awards' organisers reportedly plan to evaluate their decision to adopt gender-neutral prizes as part of their annual review after the upcoming ceremony, which takes place on 11 February. 

Music industry body BPI (British Phonographic Industry) is "already carrying out a major study to identify barriers that may inhibit more women becoming successful in music, so that there can be solutions that result in meaningful change".

Video editor • Theo Farrant