LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – British superstar Adele won three awards, including the coveted Album of the Year, at the Brit awards on Tuesday, during a ceremony that did away with gender-specific categories for the first time.
Adele won best album for “30”, as well as song of the year for her hit single “Easy On Me” and artist of the year, no longer female or male, after which she acknowledged the changing times.
“I understand why they changed the name of this award, but I really love being a woman, being a female artist, I do,” she said to applause at the packed O2 arena in London.
“I can’t believe a piano ballad won against so many bangers,” she said after winning song of the year against competition from the likes of A1 & J1, Central Cee, Glass Animals and KSI.
Last month, Adele apologised to her fans for postponing her Las Vegas residency, just 24 hours before the opening night, blaming Covid-19 and “delivery delays”.
The Brits said they did away with gendered categories to celebrate “artists solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify or as others may see them.”
Sam Smith, who is non-binary, did not submit their album “Love Goes” last year because it did not fit into the male and female categories.
– Genre not gender –
This year’s nominations featured the biggest number of woman-fronted acts in over a decade, 18, although male artists still dominated.
Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran paid homage to his wife as he received the award for Songwriter of the Year and gave two memorable performances at the arena, which had been decorated with mock pylons loaded with fireworks for the occasion.
The biggest night for British pop re-introduced genre-based prizes for the first time since 2006, with awards for alternative/rock, pop/R&B, dance and hip-hop/rap/grime voted for by fans rather than music industry insiders.
Last year’s winner of British Album of the Year, Dua Lipa, won the TikTok vote for best pop/R&B act, and Sam Fender won Best Alternative Rock Act, which was presented by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood.
US teenager Olivia Rodrigo won International Song of the Year for “Good 4 U”, while Becky Hill won Best Dance Act, with the dance music category returning after 16 years away from the Brits.
“I’ve been a little drum’n’bass raver since I was 12 years old,” an emotional Hill told the audience.
Rapper Little Simz was nominated for four awards and took the stage with her mother to receive the Best New Artist Award on the back of last year’s album “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert”, a backronym of her nickname Simbi.
“I want to say to anyone who is watching this at home –- I am living proof that if you work hard at something, no matter where you come from, no matter your background, no matter your race, you can do something extraordinary,” she said.
“So for all the kids. Keep dreaming, keep pushing. I am you. You are me. Blessings. Thank you so much,” said Little Simz, who grow up on a council estate in north London.
– ‘Where’s Boris? –
Host Mo Gilligan took a swipe at scandal-embroiled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, inviting him to the ceremony to enjoy some cheese.
“Boris I know you’re watching, I know you love a party, come on my guy, come down,” he said, with Johnson’s premiership teetering amid allegations of lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street.
“I know you like a cheese board, look at you, looking for the Dairylea,” Gilligan said referencing processed cheese.
The evening included performances by Liam Gallagher and Anne Marie, who stumbled during her performance of “Kiss My (Uh-Oh)” in front of the 20,000-strong audience, but regained her composure.