The phenomenal success of BTS has put an end to any notion that K-Pop is a transitory fad. BLACKPINK, NCT 127, and TOMORROW x TOGETHER have all charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this year, while BLACKPINK, NCT 127, and TOMORROW x TOGETHER have all charted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200. K-Pop is here to stay, and it’s past time for its mega-famous, culture-shaping performers to be honored with Grammy nominations.
And it’s not only in the pop genres. Jin, SUGA, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook might be nominated for the main categories — album of the year, a record of the year, and song of the year — when nominations are released on Nov. 23.
With each new release, the South Korean hit machine has a habit of making history. BTS became the quickest band since the Beatles to gather five chart-topping albums when their ninth album, “Be,” landed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in November. Their record-breaking streak continued in 2021 when “Butter” set a new first-day Spotify record (11 million+ worldwide streams), and the accompanying visual set a new first-day YouTube view record of 108.2 million. The infectious banger, produced by Stephen Kirk, Rob Grimaldi, and Ron Perry, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it lasted for 10 non-consecutive weeks. BTS followed up with another chart-topper, “Permission to Dance,” co-written by Ed Sheeran, then completed the hat trick with “My Universe,” a Coldplay duet, a few weeks later.
The Recording Academy is known to pay great heed to commercial supremacy, so BTS might be adding to their lone Grammy nomination for pop duo/group performance for their 2020 smash “Dynamite.” With “Butter,” the K-Pop titans have a decent chance of making a comeback in that category, and its visual has to be a candidate for music video. “Be” is also within the 13-month qualifying period, putting it in contention for a nomination for the best pop vocal album.
A Grammy nomination in any category is a significant honor, but nominating BTS in one of the main three categories would be a more meaningful recognition of the group’s success, as well as the immense popularity of K-Pop in North America.
BTS are at their most adventurous on “Be,” fusing pop, hip-hop, electronica, disco, and even folk elements. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 2.6 million copies worldwide, thanks to a slew of explosive live performances, including the American Music Awards, which were broadcast live from South Korea’s Seoul Olympic Stadium, “Good Morning America,” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” It even sparked the relaunch of “MTV Unplugged” in February with “MTV Unplugged Presents: BTS.” If “Be” received an album of the year nomination, it would be a long-deserved accolade from the industry.
While it still appears to be a long shot, BTS may have a better chance in the album and song of the year categories. “Butter” and “Permission to Dance” are both competitive because of their pedigree, polish, and popularity. If the Recording Academy wishes to honor K-Pop, it may turn to other crossover musicians. With pop songs like “How You Like That” and high-profile collaborations with Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez, BLACKPINK’s “The Album” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. A nomination for BLACKPINK would bring some variety to the pop vocal album category. SuperM, who also debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with “SuperOne,” a 10-member NCT 127, who ranks as one of the genre’s most experimental bands and achieved a top 5 album with 2021’s “Sticker,” are two more K-Pop artists who made an impact during the eligible period.
TOMORROW × TOGETHER (aka TXT) has a chance to build a name for themselves in the new artist category. They compose snappy, intricate pop music and have previously achieved chart success with “The Chaos Chapter: Freeze.” Other K-Pop rookies with embryonic worldwide followings, such as spa, TREASURE, ITZY, and ENHYPHEN, might be recognized by the Recording Academy.