The Grammys Used BTS As Eye Candy & Everyone Saw Right Through It

Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images.
During the 63rd Grammy Awards ceremony on March 14, it was obvious that the Recording Academy was trying to atone for its history of homogenous sins. However, a few distinct moments — like the déjà vu of seeing yet another white winner shout out a Black woman who was more deserving — made it clear that the Grammys haven't changed much at all. Case in point: BTS' performance.
The Korean septet's performance of their No.1 single "Dynamite" was understandably one of the most highly-anticipated of the night. Not only would it be historic, as a Korean group had never been invited to the Grammy's stage for a solo performance, but the song was also their sole (also historic) nomination this year. (Not to mention that performing is BTS' superpower). After previously being nominated for their album design and getting a cameo during Lil' Nas X's performance of "Old Town Road (Remix)" in 2020, it felt like the most successful group in the world was finally getting the recognition it deserved.
Advertisement
However, they lost the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande's "Rain On Me" during the pre-show award handouts, to the disappointment of many. And even though viewers and fans had the performance to look forward to, the Grammys kept teasing that BTS' stage would be "up next," but they were one of the very last groups to perform during the 3.5 hour broadcast.
It wasn't hard for fans and critics to see exactly what the Grammys were up to — milking BTS' massive viewership power for all it was worth — and many were not happy about it.
It was an understandably frustrating situation, because unfortunately, this isn't the first time that BTS and their fans have been used to draw eyeballs. The majority of the times that BTS have been invited to American award shows, they’ve often been excluded from the main creative awards, and siloed into separate categories from their Western peers. It's also commonplace that brands will attempt to ingratiate themselves with K-pop fandoms by engaging with them on Twitter in a blatant play to grow their followings.
During last year's Grammys ceremony, the show loved to cut to BTS' charming and funny reactions to the acts on stage. Since then, they've done interviews with the group, and had them drum up excitement for the big night by having them perform on MusiCares’ pre-award show virtual livestream.
Advertisement
As eye and ear candy, BTS gave the Grammys tons of free promotion, and the Recording Academy was happy to take it. One Twitter user pointed out that this is a classic Grammys move, as fellow BIPOC artist Nicki Minaj has described a similar experience with the awards show. As people lamented the group's snub, #scammys began to trend online.
BTS took the loss like champs, and expressed their deep gratitude towards their fans on social media. But the most telling moment of the night happened after the ceremony aired. The group also posted a 17-minute livestream of their post-event celebration that has been viewed more than 11.1 million times (and counting) — eclipsing the 7.88 million who tuned in to watch the Grammys itself. So really, at the end of the day, who needs who? As Drake said during his 2019 Grammys speech, "If there's people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don't need this right here. I promise you, you already won."
Let's just say that if BTS decide to hold a concert next year during the same time as the local music award ceremony, we'll know who the people will choose.
This article has been updated with new information.

More from Music

R29 Original Series

Advertisement