Harry Styles addresses ‘privilege’ and dedicates award to female stars

The BRIT Awards: Harry Styles thanks One Direction in speech

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Harry Styles grimaced as he told the crowd he was “aware of his privilege” after no female acts were nominated for the Best Artist Award at Saturday’s 2023 Brits. His comments followed a backlash over the decision to make the award gender-neutral instead of having separate male and female categories.

Clutching his gong, Harry told the assembled crowd: “I’m really, really grateful for this and very aware of my privilege up here tonight.”

He then name-checked other eligible female artists who were there on the night but failed to be nominated for the category.

“This award is for Charli [XCX], Rina [Sawayama], Mabel, Florence [+ The Machine] and Becky [Hill],” he declared, before adding: “Thank you so much.”

His acknowledgement came after Charli XCX had angrily voiced the lack of gender representation during an interview on the red carpet before the show kicked off.

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“I heard the reason is… the Brits felt that there weren’t enough women in the album cycle, but I was in the album cycle and had a number one, critically acclaimed album,” she reasoned.

Then the Crash star stormed: “That is really all I have to say.”

Harry also received a backlash at last week’s Grammys when he claimed that “people like him” rarely got the opportunity to scoop an award there.

Despite being a British artist and not part of the USA’s homegrown talent pool, he received one of the biggest honours of the night at the ceremony in Los Angeles for his album Harry’s House.

He’d been up against the likes of Beyonce, whose album Renaissance was expected by many fans to score the win.

Referring to the ten competitors in the category, Harry humbly exclaimed: “I’ve been so inspired by every artist in this category with me. A lot of different times in my life, I’ve listened to everyone in this category when I’m alone.”

He continued: “On nights like tonight, it’s so important to remember there is no such thing as ‘best’ in music.”

However, his next comment raised hackles among some who blasted him on social media for not “recognising his privilege” as a white male.

“This is really, really kind. I’m so grateful. This doesn’t happen to people like me very often.”

@AshleyKSmalls took to Twitter to gripe: “Saying ‘this doesn’t happen to people like me very often’ when a black woman hasn’t won that award since 1999 is crazy.”

She was referring to the time when Lauryn Hill scooped the gong for her 1999 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

Previously, the award had only been received by two other black females – Whitney Houston for The Bodyguard soundtrack in 1994, and Natalie Cole for Unforgettable… With Love way back in 1992.

However, others reasoned that Harry had simply been referring to his family’s grafter roots, with a hardworking office worker as a mother, and a finance worker as a father.

He added during his Brits acceptance speech that he hadn’t expected to become famous at all, had it not been for his mum secretly entering him for the X Factor without his knowledge.

“I wanna thank my mum for signing me up for X Factor without telling me, so I literally wouldn’t be here without you,” he exclaimed.

Meanwhile, as well as thanking his One Direction bandmates, he added: “I want to thank my family for being the most supportive, understanding, patient, loving family I could have ever asked for.”

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