It may not spell quite the same diversity disaster as the all-white, mostly-male BAFTA nominations, but this month's announcement of the 2020 BRIT Awards shortlist still leaves much to be desired.
Across the four categories open to both male and female artists - Group of the Year, New Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Mastercard Album of the Year - male artists account for 26 nominations, while female artists share just four.
Two of those four nominations are held by the same woman - pop-star Mabel, Neneh Cherry’s 23-year-old daughter, for New Artist of the Year and Song of the Year - while the other two include Miley Cyrus (for a feature with Mark Ronson), and Normani for her song Dancing with a Stranger, which she co-wrote with Sam Smith.
Not a single woman can be found in any of the five groups nominated (Bastille, Bring Me the Horizon, Coldplay, D-Block Europe and Foals), nor in the BRIT Awards’ most important category, Album of the Year (Dave, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Michael Kiwankuka and Stormzy share that honour). At last year’s BRITs, the Best Breakthrough Act, Best Group and Best Album were all awarded to men.
The problem lies less with the judging panel, which is refreshed annually following the BRIT’s 2016 #BritsSoWhite controversy, and split 51 per cent male and 49 per cent female, but rather with the wider gender gap within the music industry. The number of female acts in the charts is almost identical to a decade ago, but the number of male acts has risen by more than 50 per cent as a result of male/female collaborations replacing solo female songs, suggesting female musicians aren’t receiving enough support.
Music labels are still extremely male dominated, which can put women off from signing, while Glastonbury's Emily Eavis spoke last year of the “tables of men” she faces in meetings. Each year, major UK festivals come under fire for the scarcity of female headliners on the bill.
There is also the question of the awards’ eligibility criteria, which (with the exception of the Rising Star category, which is judged by critics and announced separately, and for which this year all three nominations were women), are defined by commercial success in the charts. The Best New Artist must have had at least 2 Top 20 Singles or a Top 40 album (which also applies to Best Album) while the 10 nominated Songs of the Year are the top 10 in the charts. What's stopping women from hitting these top spots? Or does the bias lie with the listener?
This year’s BRIT Awards disparity can also be explained by the shortlist’s dominance of rap – a largely male genre, which is another problem altogether. More positively, the shortlist accurately reflects the rising success of black music in the UK by nominating politically outspoken rappers Stormzy (who lambasted Theresa May during his performance at last year’s BRIT awards) and Dave (who won an Ivor Novello for Question Time, his seven-minute attack on the UK government) in the Male Solo Artist of the Year category.
No spokesperson from the BRIT Awards was available for comment.
Brit Awards full nominations
The 2020 Female Solo Artist nominees, in association with Amazon Music are:
The 2020 Male Solo Artist nominees, in association with Amazon Music, are:
The 2020 Mastercard Album Of The Year nominees are:
Harry Styles: Fine Line
Lewis Capaldi: Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent
Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka
Stormzy: Heavy Is The Head
The 2020 Best New Artist nominees are:
The 2020 Best Group nominees are:
Bring Me The Horizon
The 2020 International Female Solo Artist nominees are:
Lana Del Rey
The 2020 International Male Solo Artist nominees are:
Tyler, the Creator
The 2020 Song of the Year nominees are:
AJ Tracey - Ladbroke Grove
Calvin Harris and Rag'n'Bone Man - Giant
Dave feat. Burna Boy - Location
Ed Sheeran feat. Justin Bieber - I Don't Care
Lewis Capaldi - Someone You Loved
Mabel - Don't Call Me Up
Mark Ronson feat. Miley Cyrus - Nothing Breaks Like a Heart
Sam Smith feat. Normani - Dancing With A Stranger
Stormzy - Vossi Bop
Tom Walker - Just You and I
When are the Brit Awards 2020?
The BRIT Awards 2020 with Mastercard will take place Tuesday 18 February at The O2 Arena.
How to watch the Brit Awards live?
The BRIT Awards 2020 will be broadcast exclusively on ITV. The red carpet will be hosted by Alice Levine and Clara Amfo on ITV2 from 7-8pm. The awards will be broadcast live from 8-10pm on ITV1.
Who is performing at the Brits?
The only artist confirmed so far is the winner of this year's Rising Star award, Celeste.
Who is hosting the Brit Awards 2020?
Comedian Jack Whitehall will be hosting the awards for the third time in a row.