As music fans, it’s natural to want to see your favorite artists receive the recognition you truly believe they deserve.
And when those artists are BTS, it is upsetting to see them not be given that recognition when their hard work has been evident, and they have proven themselves beyond the boundaries that were set up for them, in so many capacities.
On Wednesday, nominations for the 2020 Grammy Awards were announced. BTS did not receive a single nod, much to the disappointment of their loyal fanbase, referred to as the Army.
The South Korean super septet of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook are dancers, singers, record producers, songwriters and performers. Each has become a beacon of inspiration through their music and by sharing the important lessons of self-love, mental health and self-fulfillment.
One of the most memorable moments for BTS and the Army this year was watching the group walk the red carpet at the 2019 Grammys , and get up on the stage to present an award, while saying they “will be back.”
Over the weeks leading up to the 2020 nominees announcement, fans were anticipating a nomination for BTS, hoping to see their name attached to one of the Grammys top categories such as album of the Year. Last year, BTS’ album Love Yourself: Tear was nominated for Best Recording Package, but their music is yet to be recognized with a Grammy win.
Sadly, that will not happen this time around.
True to form, the Army is making its voice heard. The overwhelming reaction on Twitter was that BTS are successful no matter what.
Twitter user @relijoon posted: “whether or not BTS receive any nominations, it doesn’t take away from the fact that they’ve accomplished so much and surpassed boundaries not just in the kpop industry, but the music industry as a whole. nothing will ever take away from that”
And user @beemyhope_ tweeted “not getting a grammy nom won’t ever change a fact that BTS has broken a lot of barriers and showed what diversity is and authenticity through music. their impact is legendary. and that’s on that.”
Jiye Kim, a BTS content translator, said while she would’ve loved to see BTS nominated for a Grammy and watch them perform at the show, she also knows if it doesn’t happen this year, it could the next; It just seems like the natural trajectory for them.
“Over the past two and a half years, they’ve stepped on new territory and through the support of the fans and …their own talent and personality, they’ve actually managed to shine so much and have people recognize who they are,” Kim said.
Kim, also known as Wisha on Twitter, said she wouldn’t consider the lack of a nomination a “snub,” but she does understand the disappointment.
“We want wider recognition for the things that we think are good and important and meaningful.”
Halsey, who collaborated with BTS on their hit song “Boy With Luv,” also tweeted about the lack of a nomination, saying: “deleting and ignoring all negativity. BTS deserved many nominations. I am however, unsurprised that they weren’t acknowledged. the US is so far behind on the whole movement. the time will come.”
Fans did have their criticism, mostly for the Grammys as an institution.
Elliot Sang, a digital content creator and BTS fan, said the group seemed to be the perfect candidate not just because they are popular, but because their music has also earned critical reception at home and abroad.
Still, Sang pointed out there have been many well-known artists who were never awarded a Grammy. Among them: Katy Perry, Guns N’ Roses and Snoop Dogg.
What is frustrating, however, is how the Grammys handles representation and how it fails to recognize artists outside of the Western music industry, Sang said.
“They’re using platitudes of diversity but only when it’s centralized in American/Western standards of diversity, which is to say throw POC (people of color) a few representation bones,” said Sang.
The Grammys has been criticized in recent years for the lack of representation in the nominations and winners. To combat that, the Recording Academy announced last fall that it would be inviting 900 new members to join the voting body, with an emphasis on women, people of color and those under the age of 39. The academy also welcomed a new president/CEO this year, with Deborah Dugan replacing longtime head Neil Portnow.
The change is reflected in the 2020 nominations, led by three first-time nominees: Lizzo, with eight nods, and Lil Nas X and Billie Eilish, who are tied with six nods apiece.
“We’re proud to present music’s only peer-recognized award, and embrace artists of all genres, all generations, all genders with all its fluidity,” Dugan said at a Wednesday media conference announcing the nominations.
The Army being upset due to the lack of recognition is justified; BTS have crossed language barriers with their music and their global reach is record-breaking.
And BTS have had no shortage of accolades. They have won Album of the Year and Artist of the Year at major Korean award shows, and this year bagged awards at the Billboard Music Awards and MTV Europe Awards.
Their first worldwide stadium tour sold 976,283 tickets, according to Billboard Boxscore. The tour included sold-out concerts at major venues such as Wembley Stadium in London and Soldier Field in Chicago. “Map of the Soul: Persona,” their latest album released earlier this year in April, topped the Nielsen charts in physical sales of 2019.
Outside of their music are their philanthropic achievements, with the launch of their Love Myself campaign with UNICEF, which led them to speak at the United Nations General Assembly about ensuring young people’s voices are heard.
Kevin Alloca, the head of culture and trends at YouTube, believes BTS are a part of a new wave where they are on the “cutting edge” of the modern experience of music. For example, BTS’ music video for “Boy With Luv” has 615 million views. He also said many of the views coming to BTS’ videos are from places where Korean is not the main language.
And a monumental reason for BTS being such a globally acclaimed group is their extensive and organized fan base, said Alloca.
The Army, a diverse community of millions spanning all demographics, is powerful. They often go above and beyond in showing their support for BTS; after what many called unfair snubs at the People’s Choice Awards, fans channeled their frustration by charting BTS’ entire Korean discography on iTunes.
BTS presenting their relatable and vulnerable side through not just music, but also through candid portrayals of their lives, results in the Army really caring about what’s best for them.
And BTS’ versatile and lyrically profound music wrought with important messages is enough to engage anyone, even if just with the refreshing and eclectic, well-produced bops that incorporate various genres and further highlight each member’s individual talents.
With this music, BTS are emphasizing the importance of mental health. They are encouraging self-expression and self-love and combating toxic masculinity and gender norms, all while transforming the way boy bands and their fans are perceived.
“There’s a real selflessness and a real mindfulness that BTS have in writing their music and constructing their themes that I feel is just very powerful,” said Sang.
Yes, BTS being nominated for a Grammy would have allowed for them to be further recognized for their work and artistry and opened new doors for other non-Western, non-English-speaking musicians.
However, the lack of a Grammy does not overshadow any of their accomplishments, said Kim.
They have always wanted to make music, and have people listen to their music, hopefully finding a form of solace and healing from it.
And as long as people are doing that, BTS are winning.
Contributing: Patrick Ryan
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