Just five days after the release of their latest album BE, BTS has made history by becoming the first K-pop group to be nominated for a Grammy Award in a major category. Announced on Tuesday, Nov. 24 during an hour-long livestream, their hit single “Dynamite” is up for the Best Pop/Duo Group Performance Award. BTS will be competing against J Balvin, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny and Tainy; Justin Bieber with Quavo; Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande; and Taylor Swift with Bon Iver.
Debuting in 2013, BTS has been making waves around the world for years, eventually crossing over to the United States. They sold out all dates on their “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” tour in North America and Europe in 2019, and this year, their single “Dynamite” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 — also a first for a K-pop act. They’ve won multiple major awards — most recently, as the Favorite Social Artist and Favorite Duo or Group - Pop/Rock at this year’s American Music Awards — and are on the covers of magazines like WSJ. and Esquire.
But this Grammy nomination has long been a dream for both the group and their fans, known as ARMY. The group’s leader RM told Esquire: “I think the Grammys are the last part, like the final part of the whole American journey.”
The group performed on the Grammy stage during the awards ceremony earlier this year and their Love Yourself: Tear album was previously nominated for Best Recording Package, but many see this nomination in a major category as a game-changer.
“I think that a nomination would be an undeniable wide recognition of the impact they’ve been able to make on the world’s most influential music industry and the talent they’ve been able to showcase,” Billboard K-pop columnist Jeff Benjamin told VICE. “It will show a major step forward in recognition of their merits as artists — something that fans and those watching them from the beginning have always seen, but is finally connecting in a larger way.”
Reactions to the nomination have started to come in online. BTS posted a video of members V, Jungkook, RM, and Jimin watching the announcement and it captured them waiting anxiously together before finally letting out shrieks of joy.
Both celebrities and fans also can’t get over the historic moment.
“I am so very happy, with my tears running down my cheeks … Nothing is impossible for BTS. And I am truly proud of them. That nomination is a cultural reset, BTS will be known as the first K-pop group and artists to be nominated at the Grammys starting today,” 20-year-old fan Dhrey Bautista told VICE.
“They have received 10 times more hate than any other group simply because of the fact they are Asian so them getting nominated for the biggest Western award makes it even a bigger deal,” Rafeeah Madhi, 19, said.
“To have BTS nominated is like banging our fists on the table that we want to have a seat at. Us, as Asians, want to be recognized, like ‘Hey! We can be good musicians too’,” Minh Tan, 19 said.
Like other award shows in the U.S., the Grammys have been slammed for its lack of diversity. A lot of the time, major categories are dominated not just by white nominees, but works in the English language. The Recording Academy, which presents the Grammys every year, has been criticized for overlooking Black as well as Asian artists.
Last year, American singer Halsey, who had collaborated with BTS on the song Boy With Luv, called out the Grammys for not giving the group a single nomination in a major category. “The U.S. is so far behind the whole movement,” she wrote in a tweet.
The lack of Asian representation has been especially glaring in recent years, as K-pop is fast becoming a major player in the international music industry.
“It’s quite unfortunate that there is that lack of Asian representation, especially as the Grammys are supposed to be an all-inclusive award show for music … The Grammys are only supposed to be about excellent music, regardless from where it comes,” Benjamin said.
In many ways, the celebration around BTS’ Grammy nomination is reminiscent of the one for Parasite’s Best Picture win at the Oscars in February, a first for a non-English-language film. The Bong Joon-ho thriller went home with three other awards at the Oscars, including Best Director, Best International Feature Film, and Best Original Screenplay.
“The BTS Grammy nomination will be an event symbolizing their music, fandom, and Asian voices that have become a power of a major society that cannot be ignored in mainstream American society,” Kim Do-heon, chief editor of South Korean music website IZM told VICE.
The news is especially meaningful to fans in South Korea, who have also taken to social media sites to express their pride. One user commented on Naver: “Wow, in my life, I watched a Korean artist dominate Billboard and become a Grammy nominee. It’s a historical moment, you can’t just say it’s great.”
Another fan wrote: “Congratulations to BTS’ Grammy nomination. Great! Many fans and people around the world were watching the announcement and didn’t sleep. I look forward to seeing you (BTS) win the prize next year. BTS already made history and are legends.”
The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. According to the official Grammy website, the format of the show is yet to be announced. Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told Variety that they have several plans for the ceremony, taking the current COVID-19 pandemic into consideration, but assured that the event will not be postponed.