Brian May, best known as the lead guitarist for rock group Queen, is the latest voice to criticize the BRIT Awards’ decision to scrap the categories of Best Female and Best Male Solo Artist in favor of a single Artist of the Year award.
Speaking to The Sun about whether abolishing the single sex categories would disadvantage female artists, May reportedly told the newspaper: “I honestly don’t know if it disadvantages one group but it’s a decision that has been made without a lot of thought. I don’t know what the long-term consequences are. A lot of things work quite well and can be left alone. I think some things need to go back.”
“What matters is justice and equality of opportunity, no matter who you are, and that is actually not happening at the moment as everyone is jumping to conclusions and everyone is scared of doing the wrong thing,” May Added. “I do find it very uncomfortable. I don’t think things are going very well, I have to say.”
On Tuesday the BRIT Awards, newly under the leadership of Polydor co-president Tom March, announced they would be dropping single sex categories for solo artists, instead replacing them with an Artist of the Year Award and International Artist of the Year Award.
In a statement, the body said the change was made to celebrate “artists solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify or as others may see them, as part of The BRITs’ commitment to evolving the show to be as inclusive and as relevant as possible.”
However, the move has prompted concerns that female artists, many already at a disadvantage in a male-dominated industry, are more likely to miss out on awards.
For two years running the Best Song category, which is chosen from a shortlist of 10 nominees, has only fielded one female lead artist on a track: Dua Lipa in 2021 and Mabel in 2020.
And in 2020, two supposedly gender neutral award categories – Best Group and Best Album – didn’t nominate a single female artist.
Earlier this week Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries also voiced her concerns about the move. “[It’s] quite a sad decision,” said Dorries. “My concern would be that women weren’t fairly represented moving forward.”