There’s a bemusing oddity on the beige shortlists for this year’s Brits: a woman who has been dead for five years is up for the Best British Female Artist gong. Say what?
Now far be it from us to deny Amy Winehouse’s talent – there’s no getting around the fact that she’s one of the most acclaimed, complex and astounding singers this country has ever produced – but to suggest she’s one of 2015’s best is just bizarre. Not only that, it’s also a disservice to all the impressive female artists who’ve made their mark on the past year.
Are the Brits trying to say that there’s so little female talent out there that they actually have to trawl through the death register to find another woman worthy of a nomination? Because that’s certainly what it seems like.
Sure, last year’s emotive Asif Kapadia-directed documentary Amy reminded us all how great she was – though to be fair, few of us had forgotten. But surely the point of the Best British Female Artist award is to acknowledge people who’ve done something important over the past year, not suggest that the UK suffers from such a dearth of female talent that the best thing we have to offer is dead women.
With their output and sales, the category’s other nominees – Adele, Florence + The Machine, Jess Glynne and Laura Marling – have evidently earned their place on the list, yet the amount of living, breathing contenders for the final place in the five person shortlist is overwhelmingly strong. The exclusion of Charli XCX is perhaps the most glaring, while Leanne La Havas was surely also worth a nod. Then there’s Jessie Ware, Marina and the Diamonds and Ellie Goulding – undoubtedly one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. On a more leftfield tip, Eska, Nadine Shah, Anna Calvi and Marika Hackman have all done amazing things over the past year.
Any one of these women would have been more than fitting on the shortlist – shame on the Brits for not giving the UK’s living female talent their dues.