The Margin: The 2020 Grammys snubbed K-Pop acts like BTS — even though they’ve outsold Taylor Swift and Beyoncé
The 2020 Grammys have no Seoul.
The nominations for next year’s music awards were announced on Wednesday morning — and not a single K-Pop act was nominated for any of the categories, even though bands like BTS and BLACKPINK have outsold most American artists.
The Recording Academy, which presents the Grammy Awards each year, did not immediately respond to a MarketWatch request for comment. But fervent BTS fans — aka the Army — voiced their displeasure on Twitter
BTS literally has had the biggest impact out of everyone but still didn’t get a nomination. They literally paved their way into mainstream music by working their a$$ off and currently have the biggest fanbase and their album literally outsold the rest. I mean wtf? #GRAMMYspic.twitter.com/5v7NezO9YQ
Earlier this year, the Army and other K-Pop fans also criticized the MTV Music Awards for marginalizing the genre by creating a separate K-Pop category, and appearing to shut acts like BTS and BLACKPINK out of the top mainstream awards, including Song of the Year, Artist of the Year or Video of the Year. The optics were especially bad considering BTS had sold more albums in the U.S., year-to-date through July 18, than any of the Video of the Year nominees (which included Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, the Jonas Brothers and 21 Savage), according to sales figures that Nielsen Music provided to MarketWatch.
BTS, in particular, has been leading K-Pop’s crossover in the U.S. The seven-member band of young men in their 20s was formed by South Korea’s Big Hit Entertainment in 2013. BTS — which by turns stands for Beyond the Scenes, the Bangtan Boys or Bangtan Sonyeondan (which means “bulletproof boy scouts” in Korean) — is the highest-paid boy band and K-Pop act in the world, according to Forbes, taking home $57 million in pretax income over the past year. The group is No. 43 on Forbes’s list of highest-paid celebrities — still far short of No. 1 Taylor Swift’s $185 million, but above Ariana Grande’s $48 million.
This chart, which includes data current as of late July 2019, compares the popularity of BTS with the likes of Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish. As David Bakula, senior vice president of global leadership at Nielsen Music, told MarketWatch at the time, “they certainly do have the reach, the consumption and the popularity of any of those other artists that they’re up against.”
While the Grammy snub may have fans fuming, BTS is still having a huge year. When the group released its “Map of the Soul: Persona” album in April, it outsold Beyonce’s surprise “Homecoming” live album, Rolling Stone reported. It also become BTS’s third Number One album on Billboard in under 11 months — the first group to post so many No. 1 albums in such a short time since the Beatles.
BTS has also seen huge success this year for its “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” tour, which set records in May by making more than $51.7 million and selling 384,498 tickets from just eight shows in New Jersey, Chicago, Los Angeles and São Paulo, Brazil. The group’s two shows at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., earned $16.6 million and sold 113,040 tickets, outperforming previous headliners like Taylor Swift and U2. And BTS was the second most-streamed group on Spotify
BTS also made their “Saturday Night Live” debut as musical guests in April, and performed on “Good Morning America” and at the Billboard Music Awards in May. They’re also on the latest Paper magazine cover — with custom Lisa Frank art, no less — for the 2019 “Break the internet” issue.