K-pop and K-dramas: BTS and the Grammy’s

Members of BTS during a photoshoot. (From left) Jeon Jungkook (Jungkook), Min Yoongi (SUGA), Kim Seokjin (Jin), Kim Namjoon(RM), Kim Taehyung (V), Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), and Park Jimin (Jimin). Copyright of Hong Jang Hyun for Variety.

Hi! It’s Annie!

It’s been a really big past couple of weeks for BTS and I’m extremely happy to be getting all of this new content. Early yesterday, many of us woke up to the news that BTS had FINALLY been nominated for a Grammy. Obviously, celebrations ensued. The entire band, but especially Yoongi, have been talking about how much getting a Grammy would mean to them. It was difficult to not feel the excitement when you saw Jungkook, Namjoon, Jimin, and Tae reacting to the news in their adorable reaction video. I really just wanted to jump up right with them! But- the Grammy’s should be talked about for everything it is. I’m really excited for them and I want them to get the Grammy really badly! But mainly because I know they want it. I’ve been pretty jaded when it comes to the Grammy’s, and other award shows like it, for a long time. We all know that they deserve this award and that, if this is treated fairly, that BTS should and would win the award. The issue is that Grammy’s never treat anything fairly. And neither do award shows like the Oscars or the Tony’s. Let’s break down why!

  • Select voters. The people who vote for the winners in the Grammy’s aren’t necessarily well-known music aficionados and they certainly aren’t regular people. For the most part, they are rich white people. Generally older than the demographic that actually regularly listens to the type of music nominated for these awards. You might think that this sounds ridiculous and that’s because you are absolutely right. The people selected to vote for the Grammy’s as well as which artist wins a Grammy, is all political. These people generally vote for an artist based off of the rich connections this artist or people connected to this artist might have. So, don’t hold your breath for BTS to be chosen. This is the same for all similar award shows. Every once in a great while somebody unexpected will be chosen. For example, ‘Parasite’ winning at the Oscars. This rarely happens though. These award shows want to make you think that this is a fair and important process, but this is generally more about behind the scenes relations than it is actually about what song or artist is better. If you want more information on this topic, Eminem has been really outspoken about all of this and I highly recommend looking up one of his interviews on this topic.
  • Racism and xenophobia. These award shows have all been criticized for this and sexism on top of it, but sexism doesn’t really apply to BTS. Nobody knows about the racism of the Grammy’s more than Black artists and their fans. The amount of Black artists nominated versus white artists is ridiculous, and the gap between winners is even worse. No one knows any of this better than fans of Beyoncé. For years she wasn’t nominated for anything, then went into being nominated and never winning for several more years, until she finally actually started winning some awards. Her most popular album won nothing at the Grammy’s. The Grammy voters being predominantly white definitely has a large part to do with this. We have to be honest with ourselves; just like in Hollywood, the music industry is still pretty racist. That’s because we have a bunch of people running these industries who are old white rich men and because our society is still pretty racist. These award shows are no different. It’s awful and hopefully more bands from other countries coming in like BTS and artists of color continuing to speak out against the Grammy’s will help phase things like this out. But at the same time, none of that is their job. We all need to do our part in listening to them and spreading the word.
  • Popular vs artistic. Have you ever looked at the list of Oscar winning movies and not recognized a single name? Or looked at a winner of the Grammy’s and had maybe only heard one song by that artist? Again, this is partly because of politics but also partly because these award shows are trying to distinguish between art that’s “dignified” and art that’s just popular. Which is absolutely ridiculous. Obviously, if something is popular it has to have some merit. Why does anyone get to state definitively if a piece of art is dignified rather than popular? Why is there a difference? Why can’t popular music also be dignified? Art is made to be enjoyed and interpreted differently by everyone. Still, this is what these shows often do. Just look at things like Marvel and Star Wars never being nominated for Oscars. The Grammys are, again, no different. These shows treat movies and music like the people voting for the winner have a more dignified palate than the general public. Which is again, ridiculous. No one group of people should have a say over what art is important and what art isn’t. If you want a more accurate look at what is actually most liked, look at award shows that use the people’s choice. Is it a coincidence that BTS wins all of their awards on shows like that? Nope.
  • How the Grammy’s have treated BTS in the past. Horribly. Most ARMY’s know this from a recent behind the scenes 2019 Grammy’s video BTS released on their Twitter. In 2019 they practiced their English, including answering interview questions, and were barely stopped on the red carpet. They didn’t get to use any of the English they practiced for interviews. They were given few accommodations in comparison to other artists, and weren’t even allowed to perform their own music. The Grammy’s instead decided to pat themselves on the back by making them the first K-pop stars to present awards at the Grammy’s. Wow. It was obvious to us all that the Grammy’s had invited them in order to get the large numbers of ARMY watching, as many award shows have done. Just the regular exploitation of these amazing boys who do not deserve this. Watching the Grammy’s turn around like this not only feels slimy, but it also feels like they’ll pull something like patting themselves on the back just for nominating them in the first place and use that as an excuse to give them nothing. I mean, just look at how many nominations they got. One. If this was fair, they would have gotten much more than that and this wouldn’t have been the first time they were nominated.

I do want BTS to win, but I want them to win because they want to win. I don’t care about the Grammy’s specifically. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t important and isn’t a cause for celebration. If it’s important enough to them, then it is to me too. But don’t get your hopes up about them winning and don’t feel like it says anything profound if they don’t win. BTS is bigger than the Grammy’s have ever been and probably ever will be considering over the years the numbers for award shows like this have been decreasing. We’re at this point where everyone listens to or watches what they want, and that’s really good! If you do want to watch BTS at the Grammy’s though, I would highly recommend watching an unofficial stream or watching unofficial videos after the fact. Don’t give the Grammy’s your views. BTS is worth so much more than a Grammy or any award you could ever put to their name. I just hope that more and more people will begin to see how messed up award shows like this are, so we can fix them or have award shows that will celebrate all artists instead of certain ones (mostly white ones). All art has value and everyone is entitled to their own opinions of it. Whether they win or not, all of ARMY will still be there for them.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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