- 25 Nov 21
This week, the BRITs announced that the Artist of the Year and International Artist of the Year awards will replace gendered categories in 2022.
Queen guitarist Brian May has criticised the BRIT Awards for their decision to bin gendered awards.
The BRITs disclosed details for the 2022 awards earlier in the week. This included news that the Artist of the Year and International Artist of the Year awards will replace gendered categories in 2022.
May blasted the move in an interview with The Mirror at ITV’s Palooza event on Tuesday (November 23): “It’s a decision that has been made without enough thought. A lot of things work quite well and can be left alone.”
“I get so sick of people trying to change things without thinking of the long-term consequences,” he added. “Some of these things are an improvement, some of them are not.”
The 74-year old said there is an “atmosphere of fear everywhere because people are afraid to say how they really think. I think so many people are feeling, ‘Hang on, this isn’t quite right.’ But they don’t dare say anything. Eventually there will be some kind of explosion,” he added.
“For instance, Freddie came from Zanzibar, he wasn’t British, he wasn’t white as such — nobody cares, nobody ever, ever discussed it,” May said.
“He was a musician, he was our friend, he was our brother. We didn’t have to stop and think — ‘Ooh, now, should we work with him? Is he the right colour? Is he the right sexual proclivity?’ None of that happened, and now I find it frightening that you have to be so calculating about everything.”
The musician also remarked that Queen would not be considered diverse enough today to win the four BRIT Awards they won. “We would be forced to have people of different colours and different sexes and we would have to have a trans [person]. You know life doesn’t have to be like that. We can be separate and different.”
BRIT chair Tom March commented on the recent change and said:
“It is important that The BRITs continue to evolve and aim to be as inclusive as possible. It feels completely the right time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create, and the work that they do, irrespective of gender.
“I’m really excited to launch four new genre awards, which create even more opportunities for artists to be acknowledged for the brilliant music they create and produce, and give music fans the chance to get involved and vote to support their artists and help them to win a BRIT,” added March.
Back in 2019, reports emerged that the BRITs were moving to scrap gendered categories to be more inclusive of non-binary artists. The annual awards ceremony wanted to “evolve” and change the format in order to help push the music industry forward.
The BRITs planned to move forward with gender-based awards in 2021 when non-binary popstar Sam Smith spoke up on the topic. “The BRITs have been an important part of my career,” they wrote. “One of my earliest achievements was winning Critics Choice in 2014.”
“Music for me has always been about unification not division. I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in. Let’s celebrate everybody regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class,” they added.
The BRITs responded to Smith in a statement:
“The BRITs are committed to evolving the show and the gendered categories are very much under review,” the statement read.
“But any changes made to be more inclusive need to be just that – if a change unintentionally leads to less inclusion then it risks being counterproductive to diversity and equality. We need to consult more widely before changes are made to make sure we get it right.”