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Billboard’s intent behind hosting a separate K-Pop awards

BTS challenges the Grammy Awards for 4 consecutive years, but nominations fall short: Criticism arises that Billboard Music Awards discriminate against K-pop instead of distinguishing it

The group BTS has challenged the Grammy Awards for four consecutive years, but failed to receive nominations. 

Not only BTS but also no Korean pop artists’ names were found on the list of nominees. While the Billboard Music Awards introduced a K-pop category, criticism is emerging that it might be a form of discrimination rather than an attempt to distinguish K-pop.

BTS did not make it to the nominations for the 66th Grammy Awards scheduled for February next year. Members who have been focusing on individual activities rather than group activities due to military service and other reasons submitted entries in various categories. 

Jin submitted the single “The Astronaut” for pop solo performance and music video categories. RM submitted the solo album ‘Indigo’ for pop vocal album, and the title track “Ddalgi Nolgi” for pop duo/group performance and music video. Suga submitted the solo album ”D-Day” and the title track “Haegum” for rap album, rap performance, and music video categories. j-hope aimed for pop duo/group performance and music video with ”On the Street.” V challenged pop vocal album with the solo album ”Layover,” pop solo performance with ”Slow Dancing,” and music video categories.

BTS had high expectations for nominations in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category from 2020 to 2022. Also, each BTS member achieved significant results as solo artists.

Jungkook‘s first solo album ”Golden” set the record for the highest sales in the first week among solo Korean pop artists’ albums in the United States. V’s solo album ”Layover” entered the main album chart ‘Billboard 200’ at number 2 and recorded sales of 100,000 copies in the first week in the United States. The disappointment of not being nominated is greater.

Criticism of the Grammy Awards’ ‘tendency’ has been consistently raised in connection with BTS’s failure to win for three consecutive years. The Grammy Awards are considered one of the ‘top 3 music awards in the United States’ along with the American Music Awards and the Billboard Music Awards. 

The Grammys prioritize musicality, but they have shown exclusivity to diversity. They have shown a conservative tendency by consistently awarding English-speaking artists. This year, by excluding all Korean pop artists from the awards, they made their ‘barrier’ more pronounced.

Billboard has shown a somewhat different tone than the Grammy Awards. They established a K-Pop category, including Top Global K-pop Artist, Top Global K-pop Album, Top Global K-pop Song, and Top K-pop Touring Artist. BTS members Jimin, Jungkook, Suga, as well as newcomers NewJeans, BLACKPINK, TWICE, TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT) were nominated in all four categories. 

Despite controversies over exclusive contracts in Korea, rookie FIFTY FIFTY, who gained global streaming power, was nominated for Top Duo/Group and Top Global K-pop Song. This indicates that K-pop’s recognition and influence are no longer negligible even in the U.S., the center of the global music market. It is evidence that Korean pop has been recognized as mainstream even in the United States, the center of the global music market.

However, criticism is emerging that Billboard’s ‘hidden agenda’ is behind this. To prevent Korean artists from taking away the mainstream of the music market, they are trying to confine Korean pop music to their own ‘K-pop category.’ There are concerns that if K-pop is categorized along with English songs, free competition may be restricted.

The American Music Awards already established a K-pop category last year. In fact, in 2022, BTS became the winner in the Favorite Pop Duo/Group and Favorite K-pop Artist categories, and in 2021, they won in the Artist of the Year, Favorite Pop Song, and Favorite Pop Duo/Group categories.

This phenomenon can be interpreted as the beginning of recognition and restraint toward K-pop in the U.S., the center of the global music market. There is also a fear that the center of the music market may move away from the birthplace of K-pop. The situation is that awards must be given, but it is a situation where it is not easy to willingly give awards. It is clear that K-pop has the potential of the ‘ugly duckling.’


Author Nat.O
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