Notes on News: Billboard ‘Woman of the Year’ Controversy

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Each year we eagerly await to see which of our favourite pop icons will be nominated and receive titles/awards. But this year is far more special, with it being the last of the decade these awards hold greater value, and can, therefore, spark greater controversy.

Following Billboard’s announcement of Billie Eilish taking this year’s ‘Woman of the Year’ award, the public took to Twitter to discuss. Analysing this decade’s winners, fans noticed a lack of representation for the BAME community in gaining this title. The list of winners comprises of Fergie in 2010, Taylor Swift 2011, Katy Perry 2012, P!nk 2013, Taylor Swift (again!) 2014, Lady Gaga 2015, Madonna 2016, Selena Gomez 2017, Ariana Grande 2018, and of course Billie Eilish 2019.

Yes, this list does include some notable female artists, and of course, BAME artists shouldn’t simply win on account of their race, but some major queens are missing from this list. The Queen B herself, Beyonce, failed to be recognised for her self-titled album and Lemonade – albums which both took the music industry by storm. Rihanna, who has released 4 albums this decade (plus 2 additional deluxe versions), has not been recognised either. Surely her 2010 Loud was enough to win the title ‘Woman of the Year’? It’s sex-positive attitude, very progressive for its time, shown through ‘S&M’, amongst other bangers we will remember this decade for, such as ‘What’s My Name’ ft. Drake, ‘Only Girl (In The World)’ and ‘California King Bed’ to name a few. Nicki Minaj also made a splash in the world of rap this decade, in which women are generally underrepresented – another person worthy of being Billboard’s ‘Woman of the Year’ surely?

Of course, Billboard’s ‘Woman of the Year’ isn’t what makes an artist great, and I’m sure they thought long and hard upon who to crown with this title each year, but the list doesn’t quite seem to sum up the badass women of this decade. It’s not even just deserving BAME artists left out of this mix, but other iconic women of the decade such as Miley Cyrus, Cher (for her comeback in Mamma Mia – had to be mentioned!), Hayley Williams (Paramore), Lana Del Rey and so many more.

I suppose crowning one icon ‘Woman of the Year’ is far harder a task for Billboard than we may presume, but they really have missed the mark this decade. Fergie really wasn’t all that compared to Rihanna, Madonna surely didn’t do enough to beat Beyonce’s Lemonade, Taylor Swift certainly didn’t need to win the award twice, and P!nk really could’ve given way to Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz. Let’s just hope that generations to come don’t look back upon Billboard’s ‘Woman of the Year’ to summarise this decade, or they’ll certainly be missing out on some legends.

Watch the Billboard Women in Music event on 12th December at 9pm ET (that’s 2am on the 13th GMT) via this link.

In the mean time, watch Billie Eilish’s performance from this week’s American Music Awards below:

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