Music

Can the BRIT Awards honestly say George Ezra is better than every female musician in the UK?

George Ezra has been nominated as BRIT artist of the year... ahead of every woman making music. Harrison Brocklehurst has some alternatives.

Charli XCX poses as Spotify hosts the 2022 Wrapped Playground Event featuring Charli XCX at Goya Studios on December 01, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Guys, Charli XCX was right there. Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Spotify)

“Green green grass, blue blue sky, you better throw a party on the day that I die.” Not the scrawlings of a child in primary school having a little bash at some poetry, but the chorus of last year’s irritatingly commercially successful George Ezra single. If you’ve escaped this eye roll of a track so far in your life, you’re a luckier soul than I am. I’m bringing it to your attention not just to puzzle you, but with good reason. 

With the new year comes a new Brit Awards, and the nominees for 2023 trickled out in dribs and drabs over the course of a wet and dreary Thursday. Each category felt pretty diverse in terms of genre, and a lot of tracks and records I loved got a nod. But there’s one major category that stands out like a sore, swollen, blistered thumb. The Brit Award for British Artist of the Year.

If this award seems new, it’s because — relatively speaking — it is. Two years ago, the Brits combined the awards for Best British Male Artist and Best British Female Artist into one gong. The old way didn’t factor in artists who fit neither category, such as frequent nominee Sam Smith who identifies as non-binary. The aim of this merger was to make the award more inclusive. It seems the people in charge of the 2023 nominations missed the memo. 

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

The Brit Award for British Artist of the Year has nominated five men for 2023. There are no women or non-binary performers to be found. This is where I hear you open your mouth to protest and say something like “It shouldn’t be about the gender – if five men release the best overall music of the year then they should be nominated for this award.” Alright, fine. Let’s have a look at the fellas then.

Harry Styles, Stormzy, Central Cee and Fred Again. There’s room to lose one of them and have three men and two women nominated, sure, but I think a reasonable case can be made for those four to be worthy nominees. There’s one stinking bad apple in the batch, however, that does not sit right with me.

George Ezra. Two words that should strike fear in even the toughest souls. If your target market is pre-school children and their grudgingly obliging parents, well, George Ezra wins hands down every time. And it’s no doubt a big one for the record companies and the man himself. But is he in the top five best musicians in the country? Is he better than any other female artist releasing music in the UK? 

Guys, Charli XCX was right there. She released the biggest album of her career with nary a skip on it – an 80s-tinged pop masterpiece that felt boundary pushing and commercial in equal measure. If you want to keep Charli just for the category she’s nominated in (Best Pop Act), fine. 

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

I would rather Mabel be nominated – a singer who didn’t quite get her usual commercial success but whose second record About Last Night hit the dance pop spot when it wanted to. 

I’m aware someone like Shygirl might be so adventurous and provocative in her output that her tunes could turn the Brits board to dust with one measly stream, but there’s no denying she had a better year than He Who Must Not Be Named. 

Ezra can have his blue skies and green grass – it all sounds very chirpy. From where I’m sitting, all I can see is predictable disappointment.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Bob Vylan: 'Is it OK for me to cry? As a man you can feel there's not space to be vulnerable'
Bob Vylan
Music

Bob Vylan: 'Is it OK for me to cry? As a man you can feel there's not space to be vulnerable'

Soweto Kinch on ripping up the jazz rulebook and how his new BBC show is building community
Soweto Kinch
Music

Soweto Kinch on ripping up the jazz rulebook and how his new BBC show is building community

Grassroots music venues need your help to survive now more than ever. Here's why
The Nefarious Picaroons play at Fiery Bird in Woking
Venue Watch

Grassroots music venues need your help to survive now more than ever. Here's why

Iron Maiden legend Bruce Dickinson: 'You don’t need some rock star saying war is a bad thing'
Bruce Dickinson
Letter To My Younger Self

Iron Maiden legend Bruce Dickinson: 'You don’t need some rock star saying war is a bad thing'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know