This year’s Brit Awards, which took place Tuesday night at the O2 Arena in London, marked the first time the 44-year event judged nominated artists without gendered categories.
But it was women and female-led groups who dominated the winners list, snatching a total of 10 of the 15 prizes.
Adele secured a hat-trick of wins, taking home three prizes, including Artist of the Year, Album of the Year (’30’) and British Song of the Year (‘Easy on Me’).
“I can’t believe that a piano ballad won against that many bangers,” she said as she went on stage to collect her award for Song of the Year.
“The Brits is such a big part of my career, from way back when I was a little foetus.”
Her album ’30’, which was released in November last year, was the best selling album of 2021. She dedicated the award to her 9-year old son, Angelo, and her former husband, charity entrepreneur Simon Konecki.
“This album was all of our journey, not just mine,” she said. “I’m very proud of myself for sticking to my guns and putting out an album that was so personal to me – ’cause not many people do that any more. My son has been so kind and gracious and patient with me over the years.”
She also thanked her producer, Inflo, who took home Producer of the Year, describing him as “someone who was absolutely integral to this album.”
“He really changed my life, not just with my music but he really helped me in so many ways,” she said.
Inflo, whose real name is Dean Josiah Cover, won Producer of the Year for his work with Adele, Little Simz, and his own group Sault, which he shares with his partner Cleo Sol.
Sol, whose mother is Serbian-Spanish and father is Jamaican, is the first non-white artist ever to win the award.
“I feel honoured to be a part of change,” Inflo said before the ceremony. “All the Black producers before me, I’m in awe and have studied you. I am you. Thank you for paving the way and for your integral contribution to British music.”
Collecting her third award for the night, for Best Artist, Adele said: “I understand why they changed the name of this award [from best female/male artist], but I really love being a woman, I really love being a female artist.”
The 33-year old’s latest wins brings her total Brit awards to twelve. She was just shy of equaling Robbie Williams’s record thirteen awards, after losing to Dua Lipa for the Best pop/R&B act, a prized voted by fans.
Adele followed her wins by performing “I Drink Wine” at the ceremony.
The erasure of gender categories was instigated after non-binary singer Sam Smith was unable to be nominated in either the male or female artist awards in 2021.
“I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in,” Smith said.
On Instagram at the time, Smith wrote: “The Brits have been an important part of my career … Music for me has always been about unification not division. I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in. Let’s celebrate everybody, regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class.”
In the international categories, Billie Eilish took home Best International Female Solo Artist for the third year in a row.
“I feel so lucky to be awarded this again, I don’t feel deserving,” she said in a pre-recorded video message.
L.A based breakout star, Olivia Rodrigo took home Song of the Year for ‘Good 4 U,’ while 22-year old British singer-songwriter Holly Humberstone was announced as the winner of the Rising Star Award before the award ceremony. She made her live Brits debut performing her single, ‘London Is Lonely’ at the ceremony.