Diversity needed in Billboard’s Women in Music Awards


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Neville Hardman

The 9th annual Billboard Women in Music Awards is set to take place in New York City on Dec. 12.

Hayley Williams, lead vocalist of Paramore, is set to take home Billboard’s first ever trailblazer award among other confirmed recipients, such as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Idina Menzel. Billboard has already announced Swift will score the Woman of the Year award, Grande will receive the Rising Star award and Menzel will win Breakthrough Artist of the Year. 

These winners are picked specifically by Billboard, but do these artists really need another award to magnify their claim to fame?

Menzel was already known for her past roles in “Wicked” and “Rent.” She was nominated to win Best Leading Actress in a Musical in the Tony Awards for her performance in “If/Then” and her voice acting in Disney’s “Frozen” was up for several awards as well. Not to say that she does not deserve an award because she has often gone without enough credit, but she’s not a breakthrough artist.

Swift has been selected as Woman of the Year for “shaping and inspiring the music industry with her success, leadership and innovation over the past twelve months” despite her last album only coming out at the end of October. She’s also already claimed the award before, according to Billboard’s website.

Grande has also clinched several awards, such as the People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Breakout Artist, The Young Influencer Award in the iHeartRadio Music Awards and Best Pop Video in the MTV Video Music Awards.

Why does Billboard feel the need to highlight female musicians who have already been showcased on other award ceremonies?

If they want to be as equally unique as their event’s purpose, which solely honors women in music, Billboard would make more interesting categories that offer diversity in the people who receive the awards.

It’s the same cycle of wins with a different name of the award show. Billboard is shining a spotlight on artists who are already well illuminated instead of pulling less appreciated artists from the shadows. As an established source of music, Billboard should try to give credit to artists who haven’t claimed an award or have claimed few.

Although honoring Williams with a first ever award is progress of a changing system, since she’s from a band that doesn’t always make it on the radio, she’s not a trailblazer compared to the likes of other great women who have graced the industry. 

She’s not the first female to front a band or the first to be able to play an instrument and sing at the same time. She’s followed a path that was paved for her by other female artists like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders.

Perhaps the reasoning to give Williams this award is because she’s a more current artist, but Billboard shouldn’t be embarrassed to honor older musicians. Joan Jett was given the AP Icon Award at the Alternative Press Music Award’s last summer despite other winners being younger bands.

Billboard needs bring other female musicians to light who aren’t always recognized at other award ceremonies if they really want to be more diverse and distinguished.