OPINION: The UK Is Failing Female/LGBT+ Artists

OPINION: The UK Is Failing Female/LGBT+ Artists

The boys are back in town, again.  The Brit Awards have released their list of nominees for 2019 and as expected the list is majority male and completely stale.

The awards are split into several categories with some that separate male and female artists.  This segregates female artists from the rest of the awards and completely pushes out nonbinary artists from these categories.  Out of four mixed-gender categories, only one female artist has been nominated. 

While 2019 heralded several critically acclaimed albums from female artists, not a single one has been nominated for ‘Album of the Year’.  The list consists of 5 albums, and I’m not convinced these are even the best 5 albums released by male artists in the last year.  Here’s the list:

  • Dave – ‘Psychodrama
  • Harry Styles – ‘Fine Line
  • Lewis Capaldi – ‘Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent
  • Michael Kiwanuka – ‘Kiwanuka
  • Stormzy – ‘Heavy Is The Head

The Brit Awards’ inability to nominate a single album by a female artist speaks volumes of the music industry’s attitude towards artists who are not the heterosexual male.  It highlights the disparity in the amount of work female/LGBT+ artists have to put into their careers in comparison to their straight cis-gendered male counterparts to get any recognition.

For every FKA Twigs, who puts blood, sweat, and tears in to create epic works of art with challenging pieces of music from perspectives we don’t often see;  We have ten Lewis Capaldi‘s, Sam Fender‘s or Ed Sheeran‘s who turn up dressed in chinos and a t-shirt, playing the guitar and following the trends that have been set for years.  And yet the industry favors the latter, we must ask ourselves why?

The Brit Awards have historically gotten it wrong.  For several years they snubbed people of colour.  However, they are still failing Women and LGBT+ artists.  This issue is not just affecting the Brits but a wider issue that affects the industry as a whole.

Labels are not spending the time to develop Female and LGBT+ artists and as a result, they are being left behind.  We are losing generations of iconic artists who are being told they are not wanted by the industry.  That they are too female, too gay, too eccentric, not marketable, etc.  And yet, some of the biggest musical icons in the world are proof that it can be done, Prince, Tina Turner, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Janelle Monae, Madonna.  When will the UK catch up and invest in their icons?

Look at America, women dominate the charts and award shows.  Artists like Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Normani and Lana Del Rey were just some of the women that their industry has invested in.  Just a few years ago Adele dominated our charts, proving women can do it with the right investment.  So why are we not investing?  Both countries have a lot of work to do for LGBT+ artists, who are often stood behind the velvet curtain, writing the songs but not in the spotlight.

This sets a precedent for bland straight male artists to hold a monopoly on the UK’s music industry.  We need to level the playing field and celebrate our diverse artists in all their glory or we will remain ‘Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent‘, indeed.

To close off, here are five albums from UK female/LGBT+ artists released in 2019 that I believe are worthy of being hailed as Album of the Year:

  • Charli XCX – ‘Charli’
  • FKA Twigs – ‘magdalene’
  • Mabel – ‘High Expectations’
  • Marina – ‘Love + Fear’
  •  Years & Years – ‘Palo Santo’

Come on Brits, do better.

  1. ‘The list is majority male and completely stale’. You should have been a rapper, Lloyd.

    I can’t agree with your premise that it is the UK that is failing female/LBGT artists. It’s just The Brits.

    Look at last year’s Mercury. Quality there is judged by consistency of albums, far better than the random categories of the Brits. One third of the 12 final nominees were female singer-songwriters, two of them black and at least one a lesbian that I know of. That’s twice as many as there were male singer-songwriters; chinos and T-shirts or not. I’m sure you’ll find a similar formula every year. In fact, just looking at 2018 I see there were four females there as well (I perceive a formula here, don’t you?)

    And I’m certain that come this October at least one of the artists you mention – Twigs – has her name on the list already.

    The Mercury plays to a certain audience, people like you and me. The Brits doesn’t. Apart from a few token categories, it panders to young teenagers, mainly female, at whom adverts can be targeted in the long TV breaks. And they want to see Lewis, Sam and Ed.

    Someone needs to do a count of how many female artists there are who are established in the business here (not of their sexuality, that’s irrelevant to most people outside Islington). I’ll wager there are a lot more than you think. And it’s international. The majority of promotional material I receive for Nordic Music Scene is for female soloists.

    As for the general thrust that females are hard done by it’s worth remembering that some of the female artists who were pursuing that line two or three decades ago have changed their tune now, and are quite open about it. In fact, in the case of two of them that I can think of but I’ll withhold their names, they are more concerned with, and dismissive of, the ‘get rich and famous quick’ attitude of many of today’s ladies rather than one of hard work and quality.

  2. I think Lloyd has a point here. The Brit Awards this year are very male and very straight and very boring. You can see that at a glance. What a load of old shite it is.

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