Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Stormzy and Paloma Faith at the Brits
Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Stormzy and Paloma Faith at the Brits (Photo: Rex Features)

MUSIC

At last night’s Brits, Time’s Up was nothing more than a white rose

Stars carried roses and wore pins on the red carpet but, when it came to the ceremony, the Time’s Up movement fell by the wayside, says Emily Baker

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By Emily Baker on

As the Brits red-carpet pictures started appearing on our Twitter feeds last night, from the O2 Arena in London, you’d be forgiven for thinking the music industry’s Time’s Up movement had finally arrived. There was Dua Lipa, the most-nominated artist of the night, carrying a white rose. Next, there was Ed Sheeran, recipient of the Global Success award, wearing a white rose as a corsage. White roses were carried by the Haim sisters, Rita Ora, Cheryl Cole, Paloma Faith and Emma Bunton. Most of those who didn’t carry a real rose wore a pin handed out by the Brits organisers and, while that might seem like a bit of a cop out, at least the symbol wasn’t resisted.

And then the ceremony began, with Justin Timberlake’s latest instalment of his “I’m just a normal guy, a Man Of The Woods (available on iTunes)” routine. The next performer was another man – and you know he’s a man because it’s in his name – Rag’n’Bone Man, who was later joined by Critic’s Choice winner Jorja Smith, who could have easily commanded the stage on her own. You can see the trend here – the only female performer who wasn’t accompanied by a male co-star was Dua Lipa. But surely there was hope elsewhere? How about the awards winners – their speeches?

Alas, the trend continued with the winners, too. Though Dua Lipa won two awards and Lorde picked up the award for Best International Female Solo Artist, they were the only female winners of the night – and two of the awards were in categories in which only women could be nominated. While Lorde accepted her award for Best International Female Solo Artist via video link, and Lipa took the opportunity of her second award to bring her younger siblings on stage, neither explicitly referenced the Time’s Up movement. It can be said that Lipa tried, in thanking “all the women who stood on this stage” before her but, in the face of serious sexual harassment, it was tame – something that Geri Halliwell could have said in her Union Jack dress, all the way back in 1997.

The one shining beacon of hope for music’s Time’s Up moment came from Brits alum Ellie Goulding, who presented the award for Best International Female Solo Artist with model-of-the-moment Adwoa Aboah. “It’s so amazing to see so many people tonight wearing the rose,” said Goulding, “we’re very proud to be women, and actually I think we can all agree that we’ve been stepping up for years.” Her comments were in direct response to Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow’s assertion that women need to “step up” in order to be recognised at the Grammys. However, as pointed out by journalist Sophie Wilkinson on Twitter, Goulding is an investor in producer Dr Luke’s water company despite the sexual-assault allegations against him from fellow pop star Kesha, so it may be best to take her appraisal of women in the industry with a slight pinch of salt.

What’s clear from last night’s awards – and Neil Portnow’s post-Grammys comments – is that the industry itself is not ready to support those willing to speak out in support of Time’s Up

And then, there was the “Adele” moment, so named after James Corden had to cut Adele’s Best Album speech short in 2012. This year, Gorillaz picked up the award for Best British Band and, while the less said about Damon Albarn’s drunken Brexit speech the better, his female collaborators Little Simz and Jehnny Beth were eloquent and worth listening to. That is, until ITV decided to cut them short in order to make sure Sam Smith had enough time to perform another ballad.

It wasn’t the only faux pas made by the broadcaster on the night, either. Twitter users were astounded by the technical difficulties affecting Kendrick Lamar’s set and the excessive muting of his lyrics. But, aside from the erasure of Time’s Up and the apparent unwillingness to embrace Lamar’s artistry, there were still some positive outcomes from the Brits, and these can be summed up in one word: Stormzy.

The grime heavyweight took home two awards before closing the show with a medley of hits from his Best British Album winner, Gang Signs & Prayer, and with a short rap in the middle of his set, Stormzy set an overtly political tone. “Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell?” he asked of the prime minister, before challenging, “What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell? You criminals, and you got the cheek to call us savages. You should do some jail time, you should pay some damages.” Stormzy then went on to call out the Daily Mail following their recent article which suggested that grime artists are responsible for the amount of young people smoking skunk – “MPs sniff coke, we just smoke a bit of cannabis, they’ll get me for this so be woke.”

Thanks to Stormzy, the Brits felt political and worth talking about this morning, but many of us were still left waiting for the Time’s Up watershed moment we’ve seen sweep through Hollywood. What’s clear from last night’s awards – and Neil Portnow’s post-Grammys comments – is that the industry itself is not ready to support those willing to speak out in support of Time’s Up. For these women, many of whom, like Dua Lipa and Jorja Smith, are at the very start of their careers, the power structures are still powerful. They’ve so much to lose.

@emilyrbakes

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Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Stormzy and Paloma Faith at the Brits (Photo: Rex Features)
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