2020 was another huge year for BTS. The South Korean septet (RM, Jin, SUGA, j-hope, Jimin, V and Jung Kook) was already a global phenomenon before his first GRAMMY nomination: Best Pop Performance in Duo / Group to GRAMMY Awards 2021 Show for their chart-topping single, “DynamiteStill, it was the unprecedented success of this song that got the music world at large to pay attention. Not only is the nomination a big first for them, but it’s also the first GRAMMY nomination for a K-pop act.
They released their album, TO BE, in November 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and his single, “Life Goes On”, became the first non-English song to debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. After the release of TO BE, BTS became the fastest group to win three No. 1 songs in three months since the Bee gees over 42 years ago. To top it off, BTS are the fastest group since The Beatles to have five albums no.1 and the first group to have two albums to top the charts in the country in 2020 (with Soul Card: 7).
BTS, who TIME named artist of the year 2020, is a group familiar with the first ones. Watching their disruption of the American pop music industry over the years has been a treat. Each year they have become more important before our eyes. In 2017, they became the first korean pop group to perform at an American awards ceremony at AMAs. 2018 saw the group win Best Social Artist for the second time (this is now common) at the Billboard Music Awards while giving a speech at the United Nations.
In 2019, they made history by becoming the first Korean group to appear at GRAMMYs, where HER received the award from Best R&B Album. The following year, at the GRAMMY Awards 2020 Show, they became the first Korean group to perform on the GRAMMY stage when they joined Lil nas x‘s “Old Town Road “multiverse remix. They will return to the GRAMMY stage this year as interpreters, this time with the added title of Nominees.
Explore: Learn about the nominees for Best Pop Duo / Group Performance | GRAMMY 2021
Their universal and poignant messages go beyond the arts. They have just renewed their LOVE YOURSELF campaign with UNICEF, with whom they have been in partnership since 2017 when LOVE YOURSELF ‘She’ has been freed. This association makes a catchy song like “Dynamite”, and the whole album TO BE, authentic to BTS ‘brand of practicing what they preach. Fans of BTS aka ARMY have grown tremendously and have been passionately supporting superstars for years since the group first expressed interest in winning the GRAMMYs.
Their nomination for Best Pop Group / Duo Performance is not only historic, but proves that sincerity, hard work and a dedicated fan base is the recipe for success. The septet has won so many accolades and broken so many barriers that it has become almost impossible to count them, but what is more impressive is that they have remained humble throughout.
As leader RM told us, these are just “seven ordinary boys from Korea,” and their efforts to do good and grasp the intricacies of life have comforted and inspired many people, whether they speak Korean or no. They broke the internet, got recognized by their peers, showed many sides of themselves at ARMY, and continuously released great music. BTS’s cultural relevance and impact on music will continue, as will their openness to other under-represented groups.
Ahead of 63rd GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY.com caught up with BTS to discuss the importance of their nomination, representation in various spaces and more.
How did you anticipate the GRAMMY Awards 2021 show? What did you think about as the date approached?
V: As the awards ceremony draw near, excitement and anticipation builds up. I still can’t believe we’re nominated and playing. Winning would be even more incredible.
“Dynamite” was a song for fans to brighten up their lives during a difficult time. Yet it is this spontaneous authenticity that earned you your first GRAMMY nomination. How do you feel about this? Does this capture the heart of BTS?
Jin: The heart of BTS is to deliver our stories through music in an authentic way. “Dynamite” is in this sense. It’s a song that gives us strength and embodies the message we want to get across to our fans. We believe sincerity always comes through.
This nomination is a first not only for BTS but also for a K-pop group. Many artists admire you for your achievements in Western industry. What does it mean for you to have so many juniors who see you as paving the way for Korean artists overseas? How does it feel to be Korea’s world representatives?
Jung Kook: We are shocked to be called representatives of Korea. We are simply grateful for the support and attention we have received, not only from our fans but from our peers. We will continue to work harder to present even better music and performances. And it’s an incredible honor to be the first Korean pop artist to be nominated for a GRAMMY, and we hope that’s just the start. A victory would be significant not only for us, but for many who seek diversity in music.
– (@BTS_twt) November 24, 2020
TO BE is your most personal project to date, and you all helped create it for ARMY. Why did you decide to channel your frustrations with the pandemic into an album?
Jimin: We felt the need to tell others that we share the same emotions and show them how we stay consistent in our daily life which has changed so abruptly as life goes on. What we could do was make music and play, so we made the album TO BE in the hope that people will identify with and be comforted by our music.
Read more: BTS Talk Inspiration Behind “Dynamite”, New Album 2020, Gratitude For ARMY & More
How have you spent your time in recent months? What are you excited to do when the pandemic ends?
I hope : We worked on our music. And I think I can speak for all of us, that the first thing we would like to do after the pandemic is over is go on tour and perform in front of our fans. I want to look them in the eye and scream, “I love you, ARMY!
The mainstream may know you as K-pop idols, but your music has transcended these boundaries and your fan base is diverse, including even the President of South Korea. What do you think of the K-pop label on your music? How would you describe yourself as an artist in your own words?
RM: K-pop is a term used to refer to Korean popular music, but at some point it became a genre in its own right. It’s actually quite difficult to define what K-pop is. To be honest, we’re just so grateful and happy to show our music and performances to our fans and to receive so much love.
To describe ourselves, we are just seven ordinary boys from Korea.
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You are often the only musicians in East Asia at major awards ceremonies or in traditional pop culture conversations. How does this make you feel? How would you like your accomplishments to change the musical landscape for others, if at all?
SUGA: We are seeing “diversity” movements in the global music industry. We hope that these changes will accelerate and continue to move forward. There are so many artists in Korea besides us who make great music. And I’m sure there are even more of them globally. Hopefully we can play a role in helping people get exposure to diverse music, and more musicians become more widely known.
Based on your personal opinions, which tracks or albums from your discography would you give a GRAMMY? For people who may not have explored your entire discography, which of your old works are you most proud of and why?
RM: I would like to recommend our LOVE YOURSELF: WEAPON [album] released in 2018 since it’s a great album that came out in very difficult times. Personally, the song “Spring Day” is the most special to me.
“I hope we can be a breeze that touches people with comfort and empathy.” V
What’s next for BTS in 2021? New music or solo projects in preparation?
RM: Like [on] “Dynamite,” we hope to once again deliver a message of hope and comfort at a time when the pandemic has yet to dissipate, through, of course, great music and performances.
Jin: We are working hard to release our next music. Look forward to the sequel.
SUGA: We hope the situation will improve for our tour in 2021. We hope you are looking forward to it.
I hope : We want to bring comfort and joy by bringing amazing performances with new music. We are working very hard on it now.
Jimin: I can’t say for sure that we will meet our fans in person given the current situation, but we will do our best to get closer to them, whether it’s through an album or other content.
V: Hope we can be a breeze that touches people with comfort and empathy.
Jung Kook: In 2021, we will [be on] a great GRAMMY scene, keep doing what we can and show the best of us. We also want to show you more of our musical versatility.
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