Dear Grammys: The ‘K’ in K-Pop isn’t for ‘Klout’

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A year after worldwide K-Pop sensation BTS (방탄소년단) lost their only nomination at the prestigious 63rd Grammy Awards, history appears to have repeated itself – now with a better glimpse of how the Recording Academy does the bare minimum towards the biggest group in the world right now.

At the recently concluded 64th Grammys, BTS was again nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, but ceded to Kiss Me More by Doja Cat and SZA.

Grammys, <b> Dear Grammys: The ‘K’ in K-Pop isn’t for ‘Klout’ </b>
BTS at The Grammys – Teen Vogue

As expected, K-Pop fans were disappointed-but-not-surprised. ARMYs were up in arms in what they felt was another year that failed to recognize the brilliance and impact of the biggest boy group in the music industry right now. 

BTS and the case for a Grammy

Even the biggest naysayers cannot deny the global impact of BTS. Their 2020 single Dynamite took the Internet by storm and catapulted the South Korean group to international recognition never before seen from an Asian act.

Dynamite broke records within 24 hours of its release, including the biggest music video premiere on Youtube with 20 million views. It also notched 7.7 million streams on Spotify in a day, smashing the 7.4 million streams record set by Taylor Swift with Cardigan.

Dynamite also became the first K-Pop track to spend 32 weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100. It spent 18 weeks at the top of the Digital Song Sales Chart, the most in Billboard history.

Grammys, <b> Dear Grammys: The ‘K’ in K-Pop isn’t for ‘Klout’ </b>
BTS – Dynamite MV

The historic milestones and worldwide exposure would lead to BTS’ debut at the 63rd Grammys. The group would be nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance alongside Justin Bieber and Dua Lipa before bowing out to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s Rain on Me.

2021’s Butter would continue BTS’ international dominance, with the summer hit eclipsing records held by Dynamite only a year prior. Once again, the group would make it to the 64th Grammys before going home empty-handed.

The disconnect between hype and credibility

The Grammys seemingly sees a disconnect between the hype surrounding BTS and the group’s credibility to win an award.

The hype is undoubtedly recognized. The 63rd Grammys, where BTS would make their debut, saw an 83% spike in live streams, garnering 77 billion impressions before the broadcast ended. Commercials were relentlessly littered with teasers for the group’s brief 3-minute performance in a three-and-a-half-hour show.

If The Grammys are well aware of the impact of BTS, to the point that they would unashamedly dangle the group as if they were the main show of the night, then recognition should be in order. Unfortunately, that is still not the case.

Grammys, <b> Dear Grammys: The ‘K’ in K-Pop isn’t for ‘Klout’ </b>
BTS – 63rd Grammys

Critics of the boyband could point out that rabid fanfare isn’t new to pop stars. But it also cannot be denied that few could match the meteoric rise and cultural barriers broken by BTS. This achievement, at the very least, needs to be recognized.

Western media has long had an issue with Asian representation, a stigma briefly broken by Parasite’s Best Picture win at the 2019 Oscars. But BTS proves the movement still has ways to go. It’s time the boys are treated as legit artists, not just cash grabs for viewership and clout.

After all, with BTS’ continued relevance and The Grammys notching record-low numbers in recent years, it’s becoming apparent which side needs the other more.

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