Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 September 2020

Why weren't BTS nominated for Artist of the Year? It's time they got more award recognition

The group might be the first Asian act to win a main category award at the MTV Music Video Awards, but they're constantly passed over when it comes to major nominations

BTS accept the award for Best Pop Video for 'On' during the MTV Video Music Awards. AP
BTS accept the award for Best Pop Video for 'On' during the MTV Video Music Awards. AP

It’s already been a milestone year for K-pop superstars BTS.

After setting a new YouTube record for having the most-watched music video within 24 hours, they’ve also now become the first Asian band to win one of the main categories at the MTV Video Music Awards, taking home the trophy for Best Pop for On on Sunday.

And, while it’s a good start, this doesn’t feel like nearly enough recognition.

This year, the Korean group were up for three main VMAs: Best Choreography, Best Pop and Best K-Pop for their music video for On – they swept up the categories they were nominated in. They also won the fan-voted award for Best Group, too.

But for a band that has had a meteoric rise to fame in the past couple of years, why weren’t they also nominated for the night's most prominent awards, such as Video of the Year, Artist of the Year or Song of the Year?

An increased focus on K-pop

It was only last year that MTV announced the addition of a Best K-pop category at the VMAs, and the decision drew immediate backlash. After all, the MTV Europe Music Awards have already had a Best Korean Act category since 2013, but they also honour acts from other countries (such as Best Indian Act or Best French Act).

The sudden inclusion of the genre was viewed as move specifically catered to BTS and their fans rather than one that truly recognised and honoured the best of the Korean pop music industry. It essentially seemed as though it was another way to get BTS at the show and draw ratings without having to give them an award that was seemingly reserved for a western artist.

Band BTS performs during the 2020 MTV VMAs in this screen grab image made available on August 30, 2020. VIACOM/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
BTS perform during the 2020 MTV VMAs. Reuters

However, it isn’t just the VMAs where this happens. In the past, other US award shows have followed a similar suit, such as the American Music Awards (AMAs) and Billboard Music Awards, which have given BTS the fan-voted Favourite Social Artist or Top Social Artist awards.

'The time will come'

The group made history at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards by taking home the trophy for Top Duo/Group, beating acts such as Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons – although that shouldn't really be too surprising. By the time the awards aired in May, the septet of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook had already scored their third No 1 album on the Billboard 200 charts.

However, what originally looked like a promising awards season was followed by disappointment as fans felt the group were snubbed at the 2020 Grammy Awards, viewed as possibly the highest honour a musician can receive.

There were high hopes their track Boy with Luv, a collaboration with Halsey, would get a nod for Song of the Year or, at the very least, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance or Best World Music Album.

Halsey even tweeted her thoughts at the time, writing: "BTS deserved many nominations. I am, however, unsurprised that they weren't acknowledged. The US is so far behind on the whole movement. The time will come."

But do these awards actually matter?

Despite the lack of nominations, BTS have continued to just do what they do best: sell records and entertain fans. Earlier this month, they released their first English-language track Dynamite, with a new album set for the end of the year.

The group may not be as laden with awards in America as they are in South Korea – where they have won several Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year honours – but there's no denying their popularity. After all, their first concert in the US sold out in 20 minutes and they continually top charts around the world.

But is success in America, or more importantly at American award shows, what defines success overall? Even when it comes to the coveted Grammys, there are artists who win Song of the Year and go on to become one-hit wonders, never topping the charts again, while those who have never won a Grammy continually find success in their careers.

So, while it is disappointing they’re still being passed over for top awards, their most recent win at the VMAs does at least feel like a step in the right direction, especially for a group that's already broken many barriers on the way to conquering the (music) world.

Scroll through our gallery below to BTS over the years:

Updated: August 31, 2020 05:41 PM

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