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The Brit Awards nominations show a music industry playing it safe


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It’s that time of year again. Time for the British music industry to put on its glad rags and pat itself on the back for another year of shifting units.

Brit Awards 2016Once upon a time the Brits had the potential to shock, the potential to shine a light on the most interesting aspects of British music culture – The KLF and Extreme Noise Terror, erm, ‘terrorising’ the audience, Jarvis taking Jacko down a peg or two, Gorillaz’ 3D performance – but as an industry struggling with the new dawn of digital DIY the nominees for 2016 largely show a major label industry that has resigned itself to playing it safe.

In particular, the British lists read like a Radio 2 list for the only audience still, actually paying for music en masse – the middle aged.

Offering very little in the way of innovation or what is really happening in music culture, it reflects nothing youthful or exciting about our culture.

Sure, Aphex Twin and Jamie XX (two exceptional talents) are in the Best Solo Male category but Richard James is past his truly groundbreaking best and Jamie XX is unlikely to win in a category with industry-favourite James Bay, Millionaire button-pusher Calvin Harris and 80s funk magpie Mark Ronson.

The two electronic producers are additions to make the list look even slightly relevant, and something above the tepid, mediocrity of the safe-bets.

Of the Female list the most interesting star of the lot just happens to be dead, the rest takes in two huge stars who simply go through the motions producing nothing exciting or new in their music (or doing their talent justice) (Adele, Florence), the new pop hope (Jess Glyne) and the true artist, added for a bit of colour (Laura Marling).

The ‘British Group’ list is as uninspiring. Blur are nowhere near at their best or most relevant, One Direction are only there for their selling power (it can never be argued that their success has anything to do with music) and Years & Years are the safe face of electro-music creating a polished pop-mesh from elements of truly great music.

How the hell did Coldplay ever get in these lists?

The only Group that even got close to our albums of the year list were Foals. In the actual albums nominees it is the same old predictable MOR, background sounds with only Jamie XX really worthy of mention (also making it on to our list).

The picks show an industry uninterested in innovation and harbouring unique talent in any way, and one that is wilfully ignoring the musical landscape of the country they represent.

At present, having no representation of grime is so ridiculous that it has to be on purpose to make any sense.

The international lists fair a bit better covering a much wider scope of genres and talent with the likes of Kendrick Lemar (who made the best album of 2015), Courtney Barnett, Bjork and Tame Impala and The Weeknd sitting alongside the big pop stars like Justin Bieber.

Internationally it feels like the awards is at least attempting to highlight the breadth of talent that rocked the world in 2015.

The list British list is, pretty much, all white (I’ll avoid the racial bias argument for now), largely safe, mainly uninspiring that does nothing to reflect the state of British music outside the realms of the middle-aged, corporate money-men.

2016 is a great time for British music you just wouldn’t know that from the Brit awards nominations.

Read the full list here (If you care, you probably shouldn’t).

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