[INTERVIEW] NOISEY’S SAM WOLFSON ON THE BRITS

In light of the Brit Awards returning to our screens tomorrow night, Hannah Cade had a chat with Sam Wolfson (Executive Editor of Noisey) about this year’s proceedings. She gets the feeling he’s not the BIGGEST fan of the prestigious British award show. But please: do judge for yourselves…

What do you think of this year’s nominees?

They’re very much as to be expected really. They’ve opened up the voting pool quite a lot this year for the nominees and not for who actually wins but it does end up basically being the most successful artists of the year. There are no shock ones like with the Mercury Prize, it’s basically who sold the most albums and it’s a fairly accurate representation of that. It hasn’t been a great year for British female solo artists but when you see that Charlie XCX has been left out of a lot of the categories it seems weird to me when she has been such an international success. You would think that they would want to push that a little bit more and the fact that there are no female artists at all nominated for Best Album I think is a bit of shocker. It does reflect quite badly on the whole thing really.

Anyone that you think should have been nominated but wasn’t?

Yeah, I know Charlie XCX did get nominated for one award [Best British Video for ‘Boom Clap’, which has since been eliminated] but I think she could have been nominated for more. I don’t know why she wasn’t nominated for Best British Female. It was an award she could have cleared up on. I think that FKA Twigs should have been nominated for Best Album. Considering that they nominated Royal Blood, which is a bit of a weird one, it seems mental to me that she wasn’t nominated for Best Album. I know she hasn’t sold a shit load of copies but it was one of the most talked about albums of the year globally. Again, it’s such a bad reflection on the awards itself. Having said that, this is what happens when you have open votes. A lot of people vote for a few interesting things and then a few basic things and it’s the basic things that come out on top.

In your opinion, did James Bay deserve to win this year’s Critics Choice Award?

No. I strongly don’t think he deserved to win. He’s a very boring artist. I think the Critic’s Choice Award has such a history of the winner going on to be incredibly successful that they have to go with the absolute safest bet possible. James Bay is a cross between George Ezra and Tom Odell. He’s very much the same pattern, just as boring but extremely likely to be as successful. In that sense, yeah fine he’ll do well, but what is the point in giving it to someone like him? 

Do you think that all genres are fairly represented at the Brits?

No, obviously they are not but neither are they in British music generally. There isn’t a lot of Hip-hop or Grime and those styles generally do very poorly. The problem that the Brits always has is that no one does see it as a critical representation of everything and that’s a bit weird. If you compare it to the Grammys, which has mainstream categories, people do see it as a legitimate reflection, like the Oscars and the BAFTAs, of the things that came out that year. No one sees the Brits like that. Everyone knows that they just try and sell more albums and the albums that win are based on what label they’re on and who is chairing the panel that year. There are a lot of things that are left out that should be part of it but I think that the Brits Awards have done themselves such a good service over the years with the various categories that people are just going to take advantage so really I don’t think you would expect any different.

Serge Pizzorno has recently suggested that there is a conspiracy to “shut rock n’ roll out” of the Brit Awards. What are your opinions on this?

Well Royal Blood were nominated and their album was the one of the least successful on that list but if anything there is an absolute skew towards white lads in rock bands at the Brits. It’s just a basic misunderstanding of how the whole process works. The nominees are voted for by a wide pool of people including myself and other Noisey journalists and it’s measured by some very official ombudsman who checks all the votes. There’s definitely a conspiracy involved, don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely decided by the labels based on which acts they want to succeed and give a little sales boost to and which acts they are less bothered about. There are all sorts of things going on, but a conspiracy to shut out rock n’ roll couldn’t be further from the truth. Most people in the music industry are begging for the day when rock n’ roll dominates again. Anyway, didn’t Arctic Monkeys win like every award last year?! [Serge Pizzorno] is a bit of a prick isn’t he?

Who do you think will win big on the night?

I presume Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith will win everything. I’d put a bet on George Ezra to win Best New Act. I expect the winners to be white, I expect the winners to be male and I expect them to look like scrubbed up tramps. Having said that, I’m actually quite excited for Ant and Dec, [who are hosting the award show]. I think they’ll be great, a much better choice than James Corden. Last year’s show wasn’t too bad, so with a bit of luck this years show could be bearable.

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