Sam Smith is to blame for the outrage directed at the Brit Awards for not having any female nominees in this year’s Artist of the Year category, according to TV host Piers Morgan.
“They said… when they weren’t actually they, when they were a gay man… they said we need to even up these awards ceremonies by making them all gender neutral,” Morgan said on his Talk TV program Piers Morgan Uncensored. “It’s now happened and they – as the former gay man now wants us to call him – now says it’s terribly unfair and we’ve got to have more women.
“They are responsible for where we got to.”
The Brit Awards announced in 2021 that the show was doing away with the Male Solo Artist and Female Solo Artist categories to celebrate artists “solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify or as others may see them.”
Smith, who adopted the pronouns “they/them” in 2019, had pushed for the change. "I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in. Let’s celebrate everybody, regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class.”
But, when the nominees for Artist of the Year at this year’s Brit Awards were announced – Harry Styles, George Ezra, Stormzy, Central Cee and Fred Again – Smith told The Sunday Times: “It is a shame. Things are moving forward, but it’s obvious it’s not there yet. From seeing that list, there is still a long way to go.”
On his show, Morgan blasted Smith for having “the gall” to criticize the Brit Awards. “They wanted it to stop. They wanted non-binary to get the same part of the pie as men and women and guess what, now he wants more women to get nominated,” he fumed. “Really, Sam Smith?
“Somebody’s gay one minute and then non-binary the next, they want women removed from awards ceremonies, they want gender-neutral awards and then when it turns out that no women get nominated that becomes sexism, then they wants to have more women.”
Morgan launched into an attack on Smith’s chosen pronouns, calling it “exhausting” and claiming he has “a problem” with calling one person “they.”
“I can’t actually keep up with Sam Smith,” he said. “Why should I have to?”
Morgan asked his panelists: "If I said my pronoun was ‘hottest man alive,’ if that was my genuine pronoun, would you feel obliged to call me that every day? ‘Hey hottest man alive!’ No, you wouldn’t, would you? It all depends who decides what they want to be called. Why do we have to call Sam Smith they?
“I want to be called ‘hottest man alive.’ That is my choice and I demand that you respect it. My preferred pronouns are ‘hottest man alive.’ You don’t want to because you think that’s ridiculous but you’ll call a single person they and them.”
The move by the Brit Awards to get rid of the male and female categories also rankled Queen guitarist Brian May in 2021. “It’s a decision that has been made without enough thought,” he told The Sun. “A lot of things work quite well and can be left alone. I get so sick of people trying to change things without thinking of the long-term consequences. Some of these things are an improvement, some of them are not … Eventually there will be some kind of explosion.”
Accepting the first gender-neutral Artist of the Year at the 2022 Brit Awards, Adele said: “I understand why the name of this award has changed but I really love being a woman and being a female artist. I do! I’m really proud of us, I really, really am.”
After this year’s nominees were announced, Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess tweeted: “So the Brits introduced an Artist of the Year category as a gender-neutral replacement for Best Male and Best Female Artist category – but this year all five nominees are blokes. One step forward, three steps back.”
Canada’s JUNO Awards ditched gendered categories beginning in 2002. Artist of the Year has been awarded to a female eight times and to a male 13 times.