The Brits are nearly here! And you want to know if they’re worth watching. Well, while hardly mind-blowing acts like Ed Sheeran and The 1975 are performing, nominees like Anohni, Little Mix, Rag’N’Bone Man, Kano, Blossoms are (in comparison with 2016s bland fest) actually pretty great. But do the awards mean anything in 2017?
Last year, Brits winners were basically white, offensively inoffensive (and sometimes actually offensive) acts like Catfish and the Bottlemen, James Bay, and Coldplay. Adele won a few too, which is fair enough, but she’s not what you’d call “exciting” either. It just wasn’t anything to be proud of. More importantly, they’d ignored actual British talent by forgetting that British doesn’t mean white. The public hit back and the #BritsSoWhite hashtag reminded the awards show of the great talent it had ignored, and it seems to have worked. Artists like the Skepta and Stormzy, who pushed grime firmly back into public consciousness have both been nominated for British Breakthrough Act. That Blossoms album might be good, but it didn’t affect British music or culture in the way they have. And yes, Coldplay and Adele are there again, but Nao, Zayn, Kano, Michael Kiwanuka, Craig David and more have been recognised as actual artists. It’s more of a win for diversity too when you look at how the panel’s gone from 70% male to 52%. Well done Brits.
One of the many unfortunate things 2016 will be remembered for is the extreme number of celebrity deaths, particularly in terms of musical legends lost. Obviously, because the internet is filled with angry, opinionated people complaining about others mourning their idols on social media, it’s been attacked for including deceased artists. This year, David Bowie is nominated for British Male Solo Artist and British Album of the Year, while Leonard Cohen has one for International Male Solo Artist. Beatles producer George Martin and George Michael will both be honoured at the ceremony too, in what has been described as a ‘tearjerker’ of a tribute. Maybe awards shouldn’t be handed out because it might seem rude not to, like how last year, (the obviously wonderful and talented) Amy Winehouse was nominated for Best Female Solo Artist five years after her death, because there was a documentary out about her, but they’ve actually had releases… and good ones. Anyway, aren’t the Brits for celebrating British music and recognising that talent exists on our little scrap of land?
But really, does it matter? Award shows, and patriotism really, are a bit silly, the music doesn’t get better if the person singing has a few shiny bits of metal (it seems to have done the opposite for 17-time winner Robbie Williams). But if it draws attention to industry ignored, marginalised genres like grime or actually conducts it’s voting in a more inclusive and fairer way, it might actually be doing a service to Great British music.