But this year’s turnout saw many improvements. For one thing, this year’s awards were the first to hand out gender-neutral prizes. Some had questioned whether this would negatively impact the representation of women at the Brits, but this year's nominations included the biggest number of women or female-fronted acts in over a decade.
The annual music ceremony scrapped its male and female categories in a bid to make it as inclusive and relevant as possible. The move had previously been called for by artists including Sam Smith and Will Young, who said gendered categories excluded non-binary musicians.
There you go, proof that using your voice can change things. On that note, here are five Global Citizen musicians who won awards at the Brits 2022 and who are also fighting for change.
1. Little Simz, Best New Artist
Despite the fact she’s been releasing brilliant albums for the past six years, Little Simz took home “Best New Artist” this year.
The rapper brought her mother on stage with her as she collected her award saying: "Look what you've done mum. I am living proof that if you work hard at something, no matter where you come from, no matter your background and your race, you can do something extraordinary."
Little Simz, whose music emphasises the upliftment of Black women, is no stranger to social justice. “Introvert”, her single launched in April 2021, is a clarion call for racial justice and touches on the fear and fatigue that comes with being a Black woman in the aftermath of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.
She also joined us back in 2018 for Global Citizen Live, hosted at Brixton's O2 Academy in London, for a night that saw £305 million committed to the fight to end extreme poverty.
2. Ed Sheeran, Songwriter of the Year
Ed Sheeran was crowned songwriter of the year during the ceremony, where he also performed his hit “Bad Habits”.
Sheeran has also done plenty of work supporting charities too. He helped launch a campaign against homelessness in the north-east of England with the charity Crisis in 2012, after spending a Christmas volunteering for them and writing his breakthrough single “A-Team” about a girl he met there.
In 2017 he and other celebs helped raise over £100 million to fight poverty globally though Comic Relief. And of course, Sheeran has also been a long-time supporter of Global Citizen, performing at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2018; at the Global Citizen Festival in New York in 2015; and at Global Citizen Live in Paris in 2021.
3. Billie Eilish, Best International Artist
Billie Eilish picked up “Best International Artist” at Tuesday night's awards.
Eilish is well-known for using her voice to fight for our future. From environmental activism to mental health, she uses her profile to shine a spotlight on the issues that are most to her and her generational peers.
In September last year, Eilish took to the stage in New York at Global Citizen Live, our 24-hour global broadcast event that brought together artists, activists, and world leaders across all seven continents to defend the planet and defeat poverty. Here she is performing “Happier Than Ever”.
4. Olivia Rodrigo, Best International Song
Singer, actress, and Gen-Z icon Olivia Rodrigo won “Best International Song” for her track “Good 4U”.
Rodrigo has used her platform in the past to champion vaccination. She made a special appearance at a White House Briefing in 2021 to encourage America’s youth to get their vaccines. The young star met with President Biden at a time when Delta variant infections were increasing and youth vaccination rates were lagging.
Thanks for stopping by, Olivia, and for using your voice to urge young people to get vaccinated. If we all do our part and get the COVID-19 vaccine, we can defeat this virus once and for all. Let’s do this. pic.twitter.com/ovn12CUjLu— President Biden (@POTUS) July 15, 2021
5. Dua Lipa, Best Pop/R&B
Dua Lipa, who wasn't there in person to collect her award, won in the “Best Pop/R&B” category.
Scattered throughout her music, you’ll find cutting socio-commentary laid over funky bass lines — Dua Lipa does not shy away from activism, speaking her mind wherever possible.
The “New Rules'' singer's advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community has been the cause of much celebration among her fanbase and she’s also been very vocal in her support for Palestine.