I won’t support the Grammys after mistreatment of BTS


Taeseong Kim

BTS and Halsey collaborated together to release the song “Boy With Luv” on April 19, 2019. Fans believe that both were robbed by the Grammys when BTS’ single, “Dynamite,” received a nomination for the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category in the Grammys on Nov. 24 but lost to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s song, “Rain on Me,” during the Recording Academy’s awards ceremony March 14 and when Halsey did not receive a nomination at all.

Lauren Jung, Guest Columnist

On the night after the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards had aired on TV, I scrolled through my Instagram explore page and was surprised to see that it lacked any posts celebrating wins or achievements of their favorite musical artist.

Instead, I scrolled through angry post after angry post from the ARMY – the fandom of the Korean boy band, BTS –  taking over my social media page.

“Who said BTS lost Grammys? It’s Grammys who lost BTS,” one person said. 

“The Grammys not giving the award to BTS is one thing. But what’s really pissing me off is that they knew BTS weren’t gonna win, yet still they made them wake up at 3 a.m. in Korea, thinking they had a chance,” another ARMY said. “BTS being hopeful was a big entertainment for them.”

“The committee doesn’t even consider what ‘Dynamite’ means in terms of BTS’s career vs. ‘Rain on Me’ for Gaga’s … like, that right there should’ve been your answer,” a third said.

Their wrath was spewed on the Recording Academy for presenting the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande (collaborators on “Rain on Me”) instead of BTS during the March 14 awards ceremony.

Even though I don’t claim to be clairvoyant, I can pat myself on the back for what I already knew would happen.

The Grammy Awards has a history of bias toward white artists and preventing people who don’t fit those stereotypes — including but not limited to The Weeknd, Halsey, Zayn Malik and Selena Gomez — from receiving awards. 

So although I wasn’t as shocked as my peers were over BTS’ getting snubbed, I with my more than 5-year interest in BTS am equally outraged, especially since we’ve seen a growing movement toward this cultural inclusive mindset in other venues like the annual Academy Awards ceremony with last year’s “Parasite” and this year’s “Minari.”

BTS made a tremendous impact with its latest single, “Dynamite,” as the Aug. 21, 2020, song holds the title of the most-viewed music video in 24 hours with 101 million views and the first K-Pop song to reach No. 1 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart — the music industry standard based on sales, radio play and online streaming in the United States.

It remained in the Hot 100 after debuting at No. 1 for the 34 consecutive weeks since the song’s release and only finally left the charts as fans started focusing on streaming “Film Out,” the lead single for their upcoming Japanese compilation album “BTS, The Best,” released on April 2.

“Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, on the other hand, also debuted at No. 1 in the Hot 100 when released on May 22, 2020, and received 21 million views on YouTube in the first 24 hours after it came out. Although impressive, these statistics still fall short compared to those of BTS.

These results alone are enough to make me question the standards for who gets the hardware.

Even worse, it seems to me that at least one of the BTS members had a similar hunch as mine about what would happen in this category.

“I told you,” said RM, the leader of the band. He was seen to have muttered this phrase as an immediate reaction on the group’s Twitter video post showing the band’s live reaction to the Grammy award-winner announcement.

This along with the members’ dark expressions including usually smiley member V’s blank face in all the group photos before the show started led fans including myself to suspect that they already predicted the results and were experiencing emotions similar to those of their fans.

“Since we’re aliens to the music industry in America, we don’t know if there’s a place for us or not,” RM said in English in a Sept. 11, 2020, interview with Reuters about possible Western success before the group received a nomination. “The Grammys is not like the Billboard Hot 100 — it’s not [based on] numbers.”

I’ve always suspected that the Grammys had a secret panel of people rigging the voting system. The Grammys website explaining the voting process obviously didn’t support my claim, stating that the submission, screening, nominating, special nominating committees, final voting and results are sent “in good dues standing.”

The Grammy Awards has a history of bias toward white artists and preventing people who don’t fit those stereotypes — including but not limited to The Weeknd, Halsey, Zayn Malik and Selena Gomez — from receiving awards. 

— Lauren Jung

However, a Feb. 13, 2020, Rolling Stone online article exposed what goes on in the “secret committee,” and I am among the fans and celebrities — including The Weeknd, Halsey, Eminem and ZAYN — who believe they had something to do with the questionable results.

“The Grammy voting process is ripe with corruption,” former Grammy CEO Debora Dugan said in her Equal Employment Opportunity Commision six days before the 2020 Grammys. “…members of the board [of trustees] and the secret committees chose artists with whom they have personal or business relationships.”

In addition to the seemingly unfair results, I suspect the Grammys of using BTS, the group with arguably the biggest fanbase, for more views on YouTube and TV.

I felt elated that they would finally get a chance to perform as a solo act because this was not the members’ first time associating with the Grammy Awards; they presented the award for Best R&B Album and had their album “Love Yourself: Tear” nominated in the best recording package in 2019 even though it didn’t win, and they had a collaboration stage with Lil Nas X when they performed “Old Town Road” at the Grammys live in 2020.

It made me proud to see how far the band had come.

“I think in the perspective of culture, I think it’s really important to be familiar. So first, we think … that for many Americans [they were] not familiar with [us] — we look different, we [sing] different, we got some different choreography, music videos, like everything, even lifestyle,” RM said in a Sept. 3, 2020, Associated Press online article. “But I think as time goes by… I think quite a lot of people in the American music market is getting close [to us]. I think it’s very good, and that’s what we wanted actually.”

Even if the Grammys nominate BTS for another award next year, I will NOT tune in to watch the live airing of the show on TV. I will NOT let the Recording Academy dupe me into changing my lifestyle of watching recorded video clips on YouTube after the ceremony has aired. And neither should any members of the ARMY.

We should not give the program the ratings that it aims for after knowing how the Recording Academy treated BTS this year. Perhaps such silent protest could benefit not just BTS, but also other artists of color or even the next K-Pop band that’s up for a Grammy.