BTS at the 2022 Grammy Awards. Image Source: Getty Images/Amy Sussman
For three years, BTS have been nominated for Grammy Awards — and, in doing so, the superstar group have made history several times over for being the first Korean group to snag those nominations (five in total) and to perform at the award show. But on Feb. 5, for the third year in a row, the Recording Academy snubbed one of the bestselling acts in the music industry.
BTS were up for two awards at the 65th Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles — one for their “Yet to Come” music video and one for best pop duo/group performance for “My Universe,” their collaboration with Coldplay .
The snub came as no surprise to millions of BTS fans, called ARMYs. For many, it highlighted how out of touch the Academy is with popular music and further solidified the impression that the voters are older, out of touch, and mostly white.
It’s hard not to ignore BTS’s treatment at the Grammys, nicknamed “The Scammys” by some fans. On Sunday, when announcing the nominees for best music video, instead of a photo from the nominated “Yet to Come” video, Grammy producers flashed a photo from a Hyundai ad — from BTS’s 2022 World Cup ad campaign with the carmaker. To make matters worse, the photo cut off one of the members, the beloved rapper Suga.
hey, #GRAMMYs , @RecordingAcad how about when you present a nominee for Best Music Video, you use an image of the actual Music Video that was nominated…
This is NOT the correct image from #BTS #YetToCome nominated MV… pic.twitter.com/qtvdCwgcYO
— Li 🎶 💜 – Fan Account (@LiAlerp) February 6, 2023
Meanwhile, BTS’s last group concert, “Yet to Come,” was released as a concert film in movie theaters last week, and at the two screenings I attended, most of the fans weren’t aware the Grammys were on the same weekend.
“The Scammys are always like this, run by ancient racist dinosaurs,” a 32-year old TV writer in Los Angeles noted after one of the screenings. “Beyoncé has won the most number of Grammys, which is historic, but she has never won album of the year. If it wasn’t Beyoncé, then you’d think it would go to Bad Bunny, but he didn’t win either.”
It’s not like the Recording Academy isn’t aware of its perceived racism. In 2022, it extended membership to 2,000 “diverse music creators and professionals” to try “cultivating a community that embodies the ethnicities, genres and crafts that power the music industry.” It proudly extolled the increased representation of women, nonbinary people, and people of color in the new cohort, without giving a breakdown of the same groups of the existing 12,000 other members. And yet, when one actually looks at the figures, the 2022 cohort was still majority male (52 percent) and mostly white (33 percent), with 24 percent saying they’d prefer not to disclose their ethnicity. AAPI representation in the cohort came in at just four percent. These percentages apply to roughly one-seventh of the entire Academy, so their representation is potentially diluted to far less than these figures.
It’s apparent that the Academy’s future needs diversity in membership, awards, and media play as it struggles for relevance in a changing music landscape. It’s not a perfect comparison, but last year’s Grammys viewership — with its much-hyped BTS performance — clocked in at 8.93 million. In contrast, global viewership of BTS member Jungkook’s four-hour Weverse live stream last week drew 16.3 million viewers globally, who tuned in to watch him sing karaoke, answer questions, and play with his dog in his pajamas while drunk.
Ultimately, for many fans, the Grammys, which have yet to bestow an actual award on BTS, are increasingly irrelevant; the group continue to set records with other awards, records, and accomplishments.
Last year, after a concert in Las Vegas, where the Grammys were held, BTS’s RM said as much. He told the fans: “We didn’t come to Vegas for the Grammys, we came for the ARMYs. The records, the titles, the accomplishments, the trophies, they’re really important, but that wasn’t the first reason why I started all these things. These two hours: communion, energy, eye-to-eye, singing along, dancing together. This communication, this is everything. This is why we’re doing this.”
Still, the lack of Asian representation in the Recording Academy seems to ignore that K-pop, which is more than BTS, is an increasingly popular genre both globally and in the US. Acts like Blackpink are headlining Coachella while smaller groups are selling out concerts, so the Grammys snub just erases what millions of fans want — as well as who they see themselves reflected in and who they want speaking for them.
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