Why BTS did not win at Grammys 2022: 'It's a popularity contest but...'

Why BTS did not win at Grammys 2022: 'It's a popularity contest but...'
'From 2019 until just a few days ago BTS has really never had a proper first impression [at the Grammys],' says Bernie Cho (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

K-pop supergroup BTS has fans now pretty much all over the world. Along with their talent, their influence is evident from the way they dominate any field they enter from the sold-out BTS-themed McDonald’s meal to becoming global ambassadors and catwalk models for Louis Vuitton. BTS also made history by becoming the first K-pop act to get nominated not once, but twice at the Grammys.

But like 2021, at the Grammys 2022, BTS was snubbed. While fans cheered each other that they didn’t need a Grammy to prove their talent, many noticed Jungkook’s nervousness while RM and Suga stated that they had felt sad for a moment. Bernie Cho, the President of DFSB Kollective, a K-pop agency responsible for distributing K-pop songs worldwide and bringing them on iTunes, revealed why BTS had still not won a Grammy.


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BTS perform solo for the first time at the Grammys 2022 with a James Bond theme (Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Grammys is a 'popularity contest'

Many award shows have jurors who award artists instead of fans' votes as seen in the case of BTS and the Grammys. Bernie Cho explained that the Grammys worked similarly, “The Grammy Awards is not a popularity contest for fans, listeners, or viewers, it’s a popularity contest but for the industry insiders.”

Cho explained that while the world may be gaga over BTS, the music industry insiders of the Recording Academy who are responsible for awarding artists had yet to understand the magnitude of BTS’ talent since it had not been reflected in their past appearances at the Grammys. “Until just a few days ago, BTS has really never had a proper first impression…In 2019, they were on stage briefly to give out an award. In 2020, they were on stage briefly to cameo, collaborate with Lil Nas X for ‘Old Town Road’ and then last year, they had their first official performance but that was actually pre-recorded.”


Bernie Cho talks about why BTS has yet to win a Grammy (Arirang News Center/YouTube)

BTS’ in-person solo Grammy performance changes the game

Cho explained that while BTS is nice to look at on video, their live performances floored the audience. He also addressed the bias against foreign acts and boy bands citing Backstreet Boys, N Sync, One Direction and Justin Bieber who did not get the recognition they deserved at the Grammys when they were at their peak. Kim Youngdae weighed in on why this changed with BTS, “It must be too obvious for ARMY and K-pop fans but for the…non K-pop fans, [BTS’ stage] must have been the most-dynamic performance that any boy band could show…in an award show in the States.”

Cho added that BTS broke all preconceived notions that the Recording Academy had of K-pop and boy bands -- from being super fit, dancing, singing live and not lip-syncing, not breaking a sweat, and not being out of breath -- exposed the Grammys to the actual world of K-pop as BTS proved themselves to these industry insiders. Cho says, “I think with BTS, their appearance this time was really a statement that they’re here, they’re real and there’s more to come…so I think that it’s not so much a matter of ‘if’ but maybe a matter of ‘when’ they’ll win a Grammy.”

Watch the segment below.




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