BTS Didn't Win a Grammy. What Now?

Some say the K-pop boy band’s performance during the Grammy ceremony has a larger impact than a win.
bts at the 2021 grammy red carpet
Photo: Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

BTS fans all over the world watched the Grammy Awards today, waiting for what would have been another milestone for the band — winning a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their hit single “Dynamite.”


But their hopes were dashed when the category was awarded to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain On Me,” turning the tide among the BTS ARMY on Twitter from excited anticipation to disappointment. Top trending hashtags on Twitter included #LightItUpBTS and #BTSOurGreatestPrize.  

Some frustrated fans even started calling the awards show the #Scammys. 

Meanwhile, others sent heartwarming messages to the group and fellow supporters. 

“We got you, so that means we got everything,” one fan said. 

“I miss ARMY so much now. I’m sure ARMY are feeling the same emotions with us. We will be back with greater music and performances next year. We will be back with even better music than ‘Dynamite,’” BTS member V told E! News during a red carpet interview.

BTS’ Grammy nomination, announced in November, was the first ever for a K-pop act, and was celebrated as a landmark achievement for the group. To fans, it was the perfect end to 2020, a year that saw the boy band debut at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 twice, for “Dynamite” and “Life Goes On.” They performed on the Grammy stage for the first time with Lil Nas X and other artists in January 2020 and kept momentum despite the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing the quarantine album BE, appearing on late night shows, and holding an online concert that drew in close to 1 million viewers

BTS during their Grammy 2021 performance

BTS during their Grammy performance. ​Photo: Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

Music critics in South Korea said the nomination alone means a lot to K-pop. 

“I think the nomination was meaningful because it shows that BTS didn’t just make a sensation for a while, like ‘Gangnam Style,’ but that the Grammys officially acknowledged BTS,” Jung Min-jae, music critic and Korean Music Awards committee member, said. 

It’s so meaningful and historic that a Korean group was nominated for the first time,” Kim Do-heon, chief editor of pop music web magazine IZM, told VICE.

But they also knew that despite BTS’ popularity, a win was not a given. 

“It was hard to say that the possibility of winning a Grammy was high. A boy band has only been nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance three times, a new category introduced in 2012, and none of them won. There were also many outstanding competitors such as Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa,” Kim said. 

“It may have been a point against BTS that they did not participate in writing ‘Dynamite,’ because the Grammys like artists who write their songs,” Jung said. Dynamite is BTS’ first all-English track and, unlike many of the songs in their discography, was not written by any of its members. 

Some think that a Grammy win for a Korean track or album would have had a much larger cultural impact

“I’d prefer that if they do go to the Grammys again that it is for an album of Korean songs, not a one-off single in English,” CedarBough T. Saeji, a visiting assistant professor in East Asian languages and cultures at Indiana University-Bloomington, known as TheKpopProf, told VICE. “For an album in Korean to win at the Grammys against American artists singing in English — that would be truly ground-breaking.”

bts performs at the 2021 grammys

A screengrab from BTS' Grammy performance. Photo: Theo Wargo, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

BTS performed “Dynamite” later in the ceremony, a number that had the seven members moving to a Grammy-themed studio to a helipad atop a skyscraper in Seoul. 

Saeji said that this performance, more than any win, could mean much more for BTS’ popularity. 

“BTS is so successful on so many levels, I don't think the Grammys is able to measure that,” Saeji said. “Although to fans it may seem like everyone already knows who BTS is, for some tuning in tonight, this will be their first opportunity for the magic that these seven men can make.”

BTS appeared in a live-stream after the Grammys and thanked fans for supporting them, many pulling in an all nighter to watch the broadcast from Los Angeles. 

“ARMY everywhere, no worries, it's all good, we did it, we made it, we got you,” BTS’ leader, RM, said. “You guys are our prize … let's cheers.” 

With reporting from Koh Ewe and Hyeong Yun.