“Life is dynamite!” This is definitely a true statement for the Global Kpop sensations, BTS. Back in October of this year, BTS submitted for seven categories for the 2021 Grammys but, ultimately, was only nominated for one. For those who are unfamiliar, the widely-popular K-Pop group from Seoul, South Korea, consists of leader RM and fellow members Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. The group debuted back on June 13, 2013 with their title track “No More Dream,”’ and recently celebrated their seventh anniversary this past June. BTS currently have about 26.5 million followers on Twitter, 34.2 million on Instagram, eight million on their own fan interactive app Weverse, and 41.4 million subscribers on their YouTube channel.
The group’s journey with the Grammys began back in 2019, when the group was invited to come and present the award for “Best R&B Album” to artist H.E.R., or Gabriella Wilson. This was their debut on the red carpet for the Grammys and was a historic moment in itself since neither a K-Pop group nor soloist has ever even attended the Grammys in the past. It wasn’t until this past January that the group finally were presented with the opportunity to perform on the Grammy stage. BTS performed a remixed version of “Old Town Road” with African-American rapper Lil Nas X. The performance began with Lil Nas X in a small bedroom-like set. The stage then rotated and transitioned to a different section that resembled a city, with Lil Nas X entering, and BTS were shown sitting on the stage, where they then took up the chorus and sang Seoul Town Road. This was a version that had been recorded later in 2018 with Lil Nas X and leader RM. Who would’ve thought this collaboration would make it to the famous Grammy stage?
Now, in November of 2020, BTS’s historic moment has come in the form of a “Dynamite” Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. According to BBC News, BTS is the first K-Pop group to have been ever nominated for a Grammy. Their Billboard Hot 100 charting hit song Dynamite, is nominated for “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.” Dynamite was released as a single on Aug. 21, 2020. This was the first song BTS has produced completely in English and was a complete success worldwide, as it was featured on the Global 200 and rained #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks and barely dropped to the number two spot for the next two weeks before returning again to #1. Dynamite still is charting even today. The single snagged many awards both here in the U.S. and in South Korea. It is more than an understatement to say that this nomination is a tremendous milestone for BTS’s career.
Despite the huge honor of this nomination, there is a certain issue that is worth looking at. While this is a time of celebration, it is also a time of questioning. Some of BTS’s fanbase, known as ARMY, which stands for Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth, have questioned why BTS received only a single nomination out of seven categories submitted for. Over the past four years, BTS has won “Top Social Artist” at the Billboard Music awards and “Duo/Top Group” the last two years. The fandom has kept track of every single award since BTS debuted in both South Korea and the USA and can be viewed at the link provided.
It is important to mention that K-Pop did start receiving recognition back in 2006 when soloist “Rain was voted first place in the Time 100, the magazine’s annual poll to determine the most influential people of the year.” Other notable milestones include South Korean Artist PSY’s Gangnam Style becoming a global hit in the summer of 2012. However, no other K-Pop group or soloist has left such a lasting impact in the U.S. until BTS. So the question is, why has BTS only received one nomination despite all their success? There are different speculations as to why this is, including xenophobia or even money. The reason these speculations have come up in the first place is, despite BTS’s success in the U.S., that they do not receive the respect and treatment that is supposed to come with it from the western music industry. For example, the group receives little to no radio play for their music apart from Dynamite, unlike other western artists like Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and Justin Bieber, who you hear on the radio practically every single day on repeat year round.
Back in April of 2019, their hit title track Boy With Luv collab with Halsey, did receive some radio play. However, many of the group’s rap and Korean sections were cut out, making the song sound choppy and unfinished. In other words, the ones who listened to Boy With Luv on the radio did not get to experience the full song and, thus, cheated the group of putting out the true representation of themselves and their music. The bottom line is: it does not make sense as to why such a successful group, despite not being from the U.S., does not get treated the same as other popular western artists.
Just this past November, BTS was nominated for “Favorite Social Artist” and “Favorite Duo or Group – Pop/Rock” at the American Music Awards and snagged both. Yet, they were not nominated for “Artist of the Year.” Do these two categories not fall under “Artist of the Year?” Is BTS not qualified in the eyes of the western music industry just because they are not from the U.S.? This result does not match up with their accomplishments, meaning there has to be some other explanation as to why BTS did not get nominated for more than one category for the 2021 Grammys. Despite BTS achieving #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their new title track Life Goes On from their latest album BE after the Grammy nominations were announced, they are only just now getting nominated for the Grammys in a single category. Whether it is pure stubbornness or, dare I say it, discrimination, it can be argued that the conclusion involves both.
It is unknown, currently, in what fashion the 2021 Grammys will be held, or if BTS will be able to attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless, BTS and their loyal and supportive ARMY anxiously await the results of this historic Grammy nomination. Tune in to find out if BTS will make history yet again when the Grammys air on January 31st, 2021 and be sure to check out the groups latest album BE, out now!
Featured Photo Courtesy of Matt Baron/Shutterstock