K-pop idol group BTS, who attempted the Grammy Awards for four consecutive years, did not receive a nomination. Aside from BTS, the names of K-pop artists could not be found on the nominee list. The Billboard Music Awards established a new K-Pop category award, but criticism is being raised that this is reverse discrimination aimed at “differentiating” K-Pop. K-media have delved into Billboard’s intention behind holding a separate category for K-Pop.
BTS was not nominated for the 66th Grammy Awards to be held next year. Members who have focused on individual activities due to military service have submitted works in various fields as solo artists. From Jin with his single, “The Astronaut,” to RM’s solo album, Indigo, and Jungkook’s solo debut album, GOLDEN, the members have been busy individually.
BTS was nominated in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category in 2020-2022 and was expected to be nominated again this year. And it wasn’t because each member failed to succeed as a solo artist. Jungkook’s solo album recorded the highest sales for a K-Pop solo artist’s album in the U.S. V’s solo album, Layover, entered the Billboard 200 chart at number 2 in the first week alone. This is the bigger reason for the disappointment of not being nominated.
Regarding not receiving an award at the Grammys for three consecutive years, criticism of the Grammys has also been consistently raised. The Grammys are considered one of the three major American music award ceremonies, along with the American Music Awards and the Billboard Music Awards. The Grammys place musicality as the top criterion. However, it shows an exclusive stance on diversity. The awards were given to English-speaking singers each time, showing a conservative tendency. This year, they further strengthened their “barrier” by excluding all K-Pop artists.
Billboard is showing a different tone from the Grammys. A new K-Pop section was established. There are four categories: Top Global K-Pop Artist, Top Global K-Pop Album, Top Global K-Pop Song, and Top K-Pop Touring Artist. BTS’s Jimin, Jungkook, Suga, NewJeans, BLACKPINK, TWICE, and TXT were all nominated in all four categories.
This suggests that the awareness and influence of K-pop in the global music market are no longer insignificant. This proves that K-pop has been recognized as mainstream even in the United States, the global center of popular music.
However, K-media believes there is also criticism that Billboard’s underlying notion is there. The U.S. is trying to confine K-pop artists to the “K-pop sector” to avoid losing the mainstream music market. There are concerns that free competition may be restricted as K-Pop is classified as English-language songs.
The American Music Awards already established a new K-pop category last year. In fact, in 2022, BTS won the Favorite Pop Duo/Group and Favorite K-Pop Artist categories, and in 2021, they won 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 checks on K-pop in the U.S., the center of the global music market. There is also some level of fear that the center of the music market may shift from the U.S., to Korea, the birthplace of K-Pop.