LONDON (AP) – It was Harry’s night at the Brit Awards.
Harry Styles won four awards, including album of the year, at Britain’s top music awards on Saturday, while indie rock band Wet Leg took trophies for group of the year and best new artist.
Beyoncé has added two Britons to her jam-packed shelf of awards — international artist of the year and international song of the year, for “Break My Soul.”
Styles took the album of the year trophy for “Harry’s House” less than a week after winning the same category at the Grammy Awards.. He also won pop/R&B, song of the year for “As It Was” and artist of the year.
Upon accepting the trophy for best artist, the global pop heartthrob thanked “my mum for signing me up for the ‘X Factor'”, the talent show that propelled him to fame with boy band One Direction.
“I’m very aware of my privilege here tonight,” said Styles, who drew criticism. for saying at the Grammys that “it doesn’t happen to people like me very often”. Some saw the comment as deaf to the struggles faced by artists from diverse backgrounds.
Styles praised Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama, Mabel, Florence + The Machine and Becky Hill – artists who failed to make the British male artist of the year list.
Two years ago, the British replaced separate categories of male and female artists with gender-neutral awards in a bid to become more inclusive. But the move drew some criticism this year when the Brits announced a top artists list without female performers.
The move to gender-neutral awards was one of the changes made in response to long-standing criticism that the British failed to reflect the diversity of British music. In 2017, the academy of more than 1,000 music industry professionals who choose Brits winners was expanded in an attempt to make it more diverse and gender balanced.
Some musicians said more needs to be done.
“There’s too much artist diversity, but not enough label diversity,” said Sawayama, nominated for rookie of the year.
Founded in 1977, The Brits evolved from an industry event to a stylish showcase for UK talent that boosted the careers of future megastars, including Adele.
This year’s headliners include Wet Leg, the punk band formed by Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers in rural England on the Isle of Wight.
“This is so scary because being on television can feel like a real boys’ club,” Teasdale said, before thanking all the women involved in the making of the band’s self-titled debut album.
The British include four awards for different genres that are chosen by public vote. In addition to the Styles pop/R’n’B trophy, the alternative rock award went to 1975, Manchester rapper Aitch won the grime/hip hop category and Becky Hill was named best dance artist for the second consecutive year.
Ireland’s Fontaines DC were named International Group of the Year and David Guetta was named Producer of the Year.
Styles opened the show at London’s O2 Arena performing “As It Was”, while Wet Leg performed the hit “Chaise Longue” in a sylvan setting accompanied by whimsical folk dancers. Other artists included Lewis Capaldi, Lizzo, Stormzy, Cat Burns and Sam Smith.