BTS' Snub is Another Mishit for the Grammys

BTS at the 2019 Grammys. (Credit: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock)

In February, K-pop sensations BTS got their first taste of the Grammys, presenting the award for best R&B album to H.E.R. The official website even wrote an article about how "BTS Won [Their] Hearts". You would think, then, that after becoming the first band to achieve three number one albums in under 11 months since The Beatles with 'Map of the Soul: Persona' (which went on to sell in absolute spades worldwide), that a nomination at the 2020 Grammy Awards was guaranteed.

Oh. Maybe not.

It's not due to the short, 7-track length; Lil Nas X has been nominated for Album of the Year with his debut EP, which comes in at 18 minutes long. Rather, it is simply to do with bias and tradition. The Grammys are a Western awards show, with the biggest categories naturally being the poppier and more mainstream categories. As a result, these awards go to Western artists by default - despite the fact that the numbers say that it should be otherwise. BTS sell millions upon millions of records worldwide, they have built up legions of dedicated fans and there's a genuine argument to say they are the biggest music act on the planet right now.

And yet, because they are "K-pop", they are ignored and/or subcategorised. In August, the MTV Video Music Awards announced a new K-pop category, totally separating these artists from the rest of the music world and pigeon-holeing them as something different. The truth is that BTS are a pop group. That's not a criticism, far from it. Certainly, they have their own style and they sing in Korean, but apart from that, they're as pop as anything I've heard. They deserve to be acknowledged as such, and be nominated for these awards.

It could even be argued that the ignorance of BTS in favour of Western artists is form of racism, and the Grammys certainly have a troubled history in that respect.

In this case, as proven by the MTV Video Music Awards, it's not just the Grammys. The Western industry as a whole needs to catch up with what is going on in music worldwide, and embrace the fact that artists from all over the world are starting to make their mark. Gone are the days when you had to sing in English and be from a Western origin to make an impact. Most of BTS' fans won't have a clue what the members are saying until they look up lyric translations on the Internet, and still won't dare to sing along. But that doesn't matter, and shouldn't matter. Whether it be BTS, Blackpink, SHINee of K-pop fame, or any popular artist that doesn't primarily use English - the origin of an artist should not determine the recognition they receive.

And yet, here we are. Year upon year, the Grammys do something to remind us all that they are an outdated and untrustworthy set of awards that should no longer have much relevance in today's scene. The people behind these awards must start paying more attention to the scene and recognising artists outside of a Western origin. If they don't, the next few years might start becoming very troublesome indeed for the Grammy Awards.