For the first time in the BRIT Awards’ history, a girl group wins the prize for Best British Group. Little Mix, were the ones to finally break this barrier after a decade as a group, but why did it take so long?
Little Mix is arguably the biggest girl group of the last decade. They have sold 60 million records worldwide which makes them one of the best selling girl groups tied with Destiny’s Child and they are the 5th best selling artist in the UK based on single sales. This year marks the groups 10 year anniversary in which they’ve consistently put out music with 6 albums and 27 singles, which a feat not many girl groups have achieved. And they show no signs of stopping.
This past week they won the BRIT Award for Best British Group, a prize that has never been won by a girl group in the awards 43-year history. This is an amazing achievement, but why did it take over 40 years for a girl group to win? There have been many successful British girl groups in the past including The Spice Girls, but not even them received this recognition. And why did Little Mix have to wait 10 years into their career to win, despite being one of Britain’s most successful artists of the last decade?
One possible reason stands out: misogyny, something Little Mix has faced throughout their careers.
Little Mix, who formed on The X Factor in 2011 and went on to be the first group to ever win the talent show and have been the only girl group to win since. They went on to release the hit song Wings, their first of many empowering anthems.
Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards & Jesy Nelson (up until her departure in December 2020), kept promoting girl power and empowerment over their decade long career with hit singles such as Salute, Power, Woman Like Me and their biggest single to date Shout Out to My Ex from their 4th album Glory Days.
Despite their huge success, Little Mix was ignored in all the awards time after time.
The Glory Days era saw the height of Little Mix’s success, they had a no. 1 single, their album spent five consecutive weeks at no. 1 album and were on tour with Ariana Grande and this is when they first got nominated for Best British Group at the 2017 BRIT Awards. Based on the facts it was undoubtedly that Little Mix would win, no other group nominated had a more successful year.
However, they lost to a male group whose album sales for 4 times less than Little Mix that same year. They went on to be nominated again in 2019 losing out to the same male group despite once again having a bigger year. We’ll never know why exactly Little Mix didn’t win those awards but the fact they kept losing to male groups with far less success speaks volumes.
By looking at the history of who has been nominated and won in this award category, you can help but feel there is misogyny and music snobbery in the process. Often times this category is packed with male groups. On the rare occasions where a female group such as Little Mix or The Spice Girls are nominated, they’re the only ones and do not go on to win. This is most likely due to snobbery and misogyny towards these groups and their fanbases.
Most often than not, girl groups or artists that have predominately young female fanbases are not taken seriously. For fans, such as myself, this is extremely frustrating. They write their music, have stellar vocals also can execute immaculate choreography, and all while serving looks! But it feels like the industry just overlooks them for male groups who do the bare minimum.
The BRITs have not been the only occasion where Little Mix have experienced the downfalls of being a female in the music industry. The group have recounted in interviews times they were told to flirt in order to get their songs played on US radio. Jade Thirlwall told ASOS magazine: “We went to a radio event in America, full of VIPs. Someone from the US label said, ‘Go and flirt with all those important men’. I was like, ‘f*k off.’ Why have I got to go in and flirt to get my song on the radio?”
The group have also faced huge waves of backlash for their attire on stage and in music videos. Not to mention the numerous occasions they’ve scrutinised for their appearance, so much focus being on who they’re dating and false rumours of bad blood in the group. Little Mix has faced so much of what the music industry and media have to offer in terms of sexism.
In 2021, Little Mix got nominated for the BRITs Best British Group once again, after a 2020 filled with highs and lows for the group. Their tour got cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they produced their own talent show, released their sixth studio album and said goodbye to one member, Jesy Nelson.
After all the highs and lows, Little Mix went on to be the third time lucky and finally won the award. Their speech was heartfelt and recounts what they’ve overcome to get to this point. “It’s not easy being a female in the U.K. pop industry. We’ve seen white male dominance, misogyny, sexism, and lack of diversity. We’re proud of how we’ve stuck together, stood for our group, surrounded ourselves with strong women, and are now using our voices more than ever,” Leigh-Anne Pinnock said.
They also used their speech to reflect on their historic win. Jade Thirlwall said: “The fact that a girl band never has won this award really does speak volumes… So this award isn’t just for us. It’s for the Spice Girls, Sugababes, All Saints, Girls Aloud — all of the incredible incredible female bands, this one’s for you.”
As a fan who has supported Little Mix from the very beginning, their speech evoked so much emotion from me. I found myself crying because I was bursting with pride and overwhelming joy. I was so proud to see them use their platform to call out the misogyny and lack of diversity of the industry. Them shouting out girl groups of the past who also deserved this award just was a beautiful example of what women supporting women should look like.
This award felt like the recognition Little Mix deserved after a decade of hard work and determination. They have been true to themselves, ignored scrutiny and stuck together to show that girl groups aren’t hyper-sexualized silly puppets and frenemies and they have empowered their fans with music that feels genuine and authentic.
This win feels like the world and industry are starting to see that Little Mix are more than just another girl group who are having their fleeting moment but talented artists and powerful women within the industry. The girls are here, and they’re here to stay.
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