The 2021 Brit awards sparked nostalgia, empowerment and showcased many historic moments.
There was something so special about sitting and watching the Brit awards with my family this year and finally seeing the world alive again, as nearly 4000 people took the seats of the O2 arena during a pandemic. There was so much to celebrate for both the artists awarded and the audience watching from home – from seeing NHS keyworkers in the crowd, the Little Mix baby bumps and Lewis Capaldi drunk.
It was a peculiar feeling to be watching an award show that truly seemed normal compared to the Grammys earlier this year. Artists performed live, awards were presented, and people took the seats in the auditorium. The Brits this year seemed to resonate with me more, inducing overwhelming emotions as they seated 2500 NHS keyworkers, appreciating their efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
There was something rather different this year, with a particular female magic in the O2 arena air. The Brit awards have a reputation of disregarding women in the pop industry but, according to The Guardian, women won 85 per cent of the Brit awards in the mixed-gender categories – and rightly so. The highly anticipated ceremony of the year in the UK, usually wired in male dominance, is finally supporting women. It is a shame that we have had to wait until 2021 for this moment, but it was rewarding for those watching the show.
A breakthrough moment at the Brits was that the night heavily supported and celebrated female artists in the industry. Ten years into their career, Little Mix walked home with their third Brit award, winning best British group and were the first girl group to win this award. It is crazy to think that they are the first girl group in the 44 years since the creation of the Brit awards to win the award of the best British group. This speaks volumes about the Brits and how they treat female musicians who have more success, in sales or in popularity, compared to their male competitors.
In their acceptance speech, Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Jade Thirlwall used the opportunity to highlight the injustices they have faced. Calling out white male dominance, whilst also honouring their fellow female performers.
Pinnock said: “It’s not easy being a female in the UK pop industry. We’ve seen the white male dominance, misogyny, sexism and lack of diversity. We’re proud of how we’ve stuck together, stood our ground, surrounded ourselves with strong women, and are now using our voices more than ever.”
The trio is still making history, a decade after being the first group to win The X Factor. They also took the time to thank the female-led groups before them that paved the way.
Thirlwall added: “The fact that a girl band has never won this award really does speak volumes, so this award isn’t just for us, it’s for the Spice Girls, Sugababes, All Saints, Girls Aloud, all of the incredible, incredible female bands. This one’s for you!”
It comes to no surprise that Dua Lipa walked away with two major awards after the success of her latest album, Future Nostalgia. The ‘Don’t Start Now’ singer did a medley of her latest hits, paying homage to her city with a full Brit performance, incorporating the tube and wearing an outfit inspired by the Union Jack. Lipa was successfully rewarded for best female solo artist and best British album.
Despite this, her acceptance speech was not only to thank those around her, but she also dedicated it to the keyworkers whilst demanding a pay rise for nurses. Lipa vocalised the importance of more tangible ways to support frontline workers instead of empty gestures such as the NHS weekly clap at the start of the pandemic.
The Brit awards gave out two trophies this year, one for the artist and one to dedicate to a person of their choice who is important to them. Lipa picked British nurse Dame Elizabeth Anionwu as her devotee who she described as spending her “stellar nursing career fighting racial injustice”.
Dua Lipa pleaded for a standing ovation from the crowd saying: “It’s very good to clap for them, but we need to pay them. So, I think what we should do, is we should all give a massive, massive round of applause and give Boris a message that we all support a fair pay rise for our frontline.”
🚨 | NEW: Dua Lipa calls out Boris Johnson over NHS pay rise
(2 mins in) pic.twitter.com/0dJtlArLeU
— Politics For All (@PoliticsForAlI) May 11, 2021
Lipa also dedicated her second award for best album of the year to Thames hero Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole for his bravery. The 20-year-old died after jumping into the River Thames to save a woman and Lipa called for him and fellow rescuer Joaquin Garcia to be given the bravery award.
She said: “This award is for Jimi and Joaquin. Jimi, you have touched the hearts of the whole nation and we will never forget you.”
The female musicians truly used their airtime to discuss topics that are heavily being disregarded in the media. A perfect opportunity to do so as the ceremony received a viewership of three million and was full of beautiful gestures throughout the night.
Despite Taylor Swift’s lack of performance, her rightly winning the Global Icon award highlighted that as fans we have won too. Another history maker, Swift was the first woman to win Brits Global Icon award and the youngest artist in history with previous recipients including Elton John, Robbie Williams and David Bowie.
In her speech, Swift paid tribute to the NHS keyworkers but also gave out an important message.
She said: “If you’re experiencing turbulence or pressure, that probably means you’re rising. And there might be times when you put your whole heart and soul into something, and it is met with cynicism or scepticism. You cannot let that crush you.”
Despite this, my main thought was why has she travelled so far for a Global Icon award and isn’t performing, or at least announcing the release of her next re-record? Nevertheless, Swift is a well-deserved recipient who has had a worldwide impact through her music, continuously breaking her own records.
The Brits, unlike other awards, truly use their ceremony to uplift up-and-coming artists. 18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo performed for the first time in the UK with a beautiful rendition of her number one hit “Drivers Licence”, establishing her as an international artist and solidifying that she is here to stay for the long run.
An aspect that I love about the Brits is that it gives space to those who are growing in the industry via their rising star award.
This year’s recipient was 20-year-old Griff who also performed, showcasing her flawless vocals to her growing single, Black Hole. A huge pop moment for the rising star as she was given a platform to shine.
The 2021 Brits was a night that celebrated and united women and thus deserves a love letter for amplifying their voices and establishing an uplifting dynamic in the music industry to move forward with.
And in Swift’s words, that sums up the night for the female winners: “We live in a world where anyone has the right to say anything that they want about you at any time, but just please remember that you have the right to prove them wrong.”