Flying Vinyl Blog

The Brits lacked more than ethnic diversity

- Craig Evans

In recent years The Brit Awards have become a shambolic, overly tame, misrepresentation of British music. Remember when Jarvis Cocker moon’d Michael Jackson, or Oasis discussed ‘class A’s’ rather too loudly, and when people used to get incredibly intoxicated and shout to the world how much they hated their label.

Well now the annual event is a sort of stale, X-Factor-like affair that touts the same tired music and fails to celebrate the incredible diversity of what’s on offer in the UK.

Prior to this year’s soiree, artists such as Laura Mvula, Lily Allen and Wolf Alice criticised the lack of ethic diversity in the Brits nominations. But to be honest the lack of diversity was just in the fabric of the entire ceremony.

Were Jessy J, Little Mix, Ollie Murs, Ed Sheeran and One Direction really the cream of the crop in 2015? Absolutely not. This is not a stab at popular music though.

The point is that there have been some traditionally ‘underground’ genres, such as grime, that have broken onto the mainstream stage and yet they were completely overlooked in the nominations. Regardless of what you think of those genres, they should have representation.

Foals were one of the few exceptions at The Brits. They’re a band that, even after numerous albums, are still reinventing their sound, pushing things forward.

“The music industry’s a bit like Crufts,” frontman Yannis Philippakis said on the red carpet, “It’s all about hairstyles and who’s got the best training and pedigree…. In guitar music, it definitely feels like there’s been a brain drain. There’s a lot of [bands] dressing up in parents’ clothes and acting out pastiche-like tropes. I’d like to see a return of edgy, unpredictable, wild guitar music.”

‘Unpredictable’ and ‘wild’ were choice words. There was nothing at all wild or unpredictable about The Brits and it didn’t even seem like the ceremony organisers were proud of what we’ve achieved as a nation over the last year.

Live performances included Drake and Rihanna, who are American, Justin Bieber, who is Canadian, The Weeknd, who is American and an admittedly fantastic tribute to Bowie from one of the few gems of pop right now, Lorde… who it must be noted is from New Zealand.

And this seems strange to me… because British music is absolutely flying. America, with nearly 400 million people, is not making the number of hits that British music is. Our tiny little island is leading the way in breaking incredible art all over the world and this is apparently the best of the best.

The Awards organisers did acknowledge this lack of diversity in a statement, saying “Given the rapidly changing landscape of music consumption, it may now be time to take a fresh look at the metrics around the Brit Awards to ensure they reflect the full range of engagement with recorded music.”