The BRITs (British Record Industry Trust Show) are one of the biggest and most important global music events. Launched in 1977, the BRIT Awards with MasterCard are the annual showcase for the UK music industry. So, as expected, the 2023 event, which took place on Saturday, February 11th, was nothing short of a showcase. The ceremony took place at the O2 Arena in London. After hosting the 2022 edition, the returnee host was British comedian Mo Gilligan. Coverage of the red carpet was broadcast on ITV2 and presented by Clara Amfo, Maya Jama, and Roman Kemp.
Criteria For Eligibility
Two years ago, the awards introduced the “Artist of the Year” (AOTY) category following extensive industry consultation. They were informed by the belief that it was time to progress to judging artists solely on the quality and popularity of their work. This is more about what they are than who they are or how they choose to identify. The “long lists” of eligible artists for a BRIT Award are determined by criteria based on their success in the UK Official Album and Single Charts (which since 2015 have included streaming data) in the 12-month qualifying period rather than by selection or curation. For AOTY, the criteria required artists to have achieved either a Top 40 album or two Top 20 singles. The BRITs Voting Academy members then vote independently from these long lists of eligible artists.
The controversial Best Artist Award, which will replace the gendered Best Artist Prizes in 2022, was the subject of a backlash when women and non-binary musicians were entirely excluded from this year’s nominations, which comprised Styles, Central Cee, Stormzy, George Ezra, and Fred Again. In response, a spokesperson for the Brit Awards acknowledged that the lack of women and non-binary acts in the category was “disappointing.” “We also have to recognize that 2022 saw fewer high-profile female artists in major release cycles as was the case in 2021.” She added.
In the wake of the “best artist” controversy, organizers of the Brit Awards were keen to stress the high number of overall nominations for female and non-binary acts and the prevalence of women and non-binary stars performing at the ceremony. Lizzo, Wet Leg, Sam Smith, Cat Burns, Becky Hill, Ella Henderson, and Kim Petras joined Styles, Stormzy, David Guetta, and Lewis Capaldi. However, on the night itself, nine of the 15 awards (60%) were won by male acts, including three out of the four genre categories. The awards were also dominated by white artists. Beyoncé and the new British girl group Flo were the only artists of color to take home trophies.
The Brits faced further controversy with the pop/R&B category, which featured no R&B artists, nor were there any R&B acts recognized in any of the other major categories. Musicians, including producer MNEK and R&B singer Mahalia, criticized the Brits for the oversight. “Forget putting us in this category. Give us our own!!!!! How many times do we have to scream at you?” Mahalia tweed.
Harry Styles Comes Out Top
Thirteen years after he auditioned for the X Factor, Harry Styles is officially Britain’s biggest pop star. He won best artist, best pop act, and song of the year for the ubiquitous and wonderful “As It Was.” Fresh from his Grammy triumph, the 29-year-old musician also won the controversial Best Artist prize. This was created last year after separate male and female categories were merged. Aware that no women had been nominated in the category, Styles dedicated the prize to the people he’d usurped.
Beyoncé also won two awards, beating Burna Boy, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, and Taylor Swift for best international artist. The star won against Jack Harlow and the cast of Disney’s Encanto for international song of the year. Her hit single, “Break My Soul,” put her out on top. Beyoncé did not appear at the ceremony, instead sending video acceptance speeches. She thanked her fans and primed them for the start of the long-anticipated tour around her latest album, Renaissance, this summer.
The rising star award went to British RNB Trio featuring Flo, as announced prior to the evening. Jessie J collected the award on the red carpet before the ceremony. David Guetta, who is French, was named producer of the year, a category that has historically only recognized British acts. Wet Leg won the award for group of the year, and the group was extremely excited to collect their award on stage. The Irish post-punk band Fontaines DC won the award for best international group. They triumph over Blackpink, Drake & 21 Savage, Swedish sister folk duo First Aid Kit, and US soul outfit Gabriels.
Lizzo was among some of the performers for the night at the Brit Awards. Backed by a group of dancers, the performer delivered a hearty helping of hits from her latest studio album, “Special.” She also performed a medley rendition of the LP’s title track, “2 Be Loved,” as well as her chart-topping smash hit About Dam Time.
The BRIT Awards are determined they will always remain current, inclusive, and relevant as a celebration of the past year’s successes. They push this goal while also reflecting the depth and breadth of British musical talent.