BTS Award Show Erasure: How The VMA’s Highlights Western Storytelling in the Music Industry
BTS, one of the biggest musical acts of this year have been working nonstop for the first half of the year, ending a several months long world tour with a well deserved break.
Tour stops for “BTS World Tour ‘Love Yourself: Speak Yourself’” started on the May 4th at Rosebowl in L.A with stops all including Chicago, New Jersey, Sao Paulo, London, Paris,Osaka, Shizuoka and, with a new tour data just added in October, Riyadh Saudi Arabia.
The U.S tours, reported by Eric Frankenberg for Billboard, had become the top grossing tours in May and in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl earning
“$16.6 million, making it the single highest-grossing engagement in the venue’s Boxscore history, out-pacing previous high marks by Taylor Swift and U2, as well as co-headline stints by Beyoncé and Jay-Z and Rihanna.“
The group had not only been making a big splash when it comes to their music and economic gain, but on TV as well, performing on shows like Saturday Night Live, Late Show with Stephan Colbert, and Good Morning America right after their new album Map of the Soul: Persona was released on April 12th ( Grossman, 2019).
It’s no surprise why many find BTS popularity similar to the Beatles own popularity in the 1960’s. With the band achieving No 1 album a third time on the Billboard 200 chart, something only the Beatles and America band, the Monkees have achieved, they have made history and will continue to do so (Bigger than The Beatles? BTS celebrates 3 Billboard No 1 albums in a year, 2019). BTS is a band that is not to take lightly, achieving more then many artist today and should be comended for their reach in the western countries.
With all this in mind, let’s look at the VMA nominations and what happened and why it’s important to raise awareness on the MTV limited nonwestern knowledge in the VMA’s.
VMA nominations were released 2 days ago. With big name acts in line to recieve the most important awards on the 26th of August, the competition is high to elect the artist that truly ruled the last year in terms of music and popularity.
BTS themselves received 4 nominations for their song “Boy with Luv ft. Halsey” for: Best Collaboration, Best K-Pop (a new catagory MTV created), Best Art Direction, and Best Choreography.
However with BTS’s success compared in likeness to the Beatles, BTS should have been nominated for far more awards.
BTS is the biggest band in the world and were snubbed from receiving more awards from the VMA’s even after they had an accomplishing 2018 and begining 2019.
It isn’t an excaggeration to say that BTS are currently, the most popular artist in the world.
So what happened?
One of the driving factors for artist to be nominated for awards, is popularity.
Generally speaking, many of artist who are nominated in these catagories, like Taylor Swift, Lil Was X, Billie Eilish and more, are fairly popular.
What makes BTS different then?
BTS are the biggest non-western act to be at equal or greater level to compete with these big artist for the biggest awards at the VMA’s.
However, they were not nominated for the 3 biggest awards of the night: video of the year, artist of the year, and song of the year.
With MTV not making any comments with news organizations like the BBC, the lack of nominations the group has received only highlights the need to change former award show criteria in order to highlight the wider amount of musical acts that are becoming more popular in western countries. These are not necessarily western and fairly analyzing these acts against established western artist will truly grasp the shift to non-western music.
Kpop has become a much more mainstream music genre that many people have become more aware of, which can explain why MTV created a new catagory for Best Kpop.
However in compartmentalizing groups like BTS, who have been breaking records by simply nominating them for categories like Best Kpop, it only invalidates their hard work and artistry which have made them the biggest act in the U.S this year.
Armys, fans of BTS, have raised awareness on this issue on Twitter and have accused MTV of expressing xenophobic characteristics by refusing to nominate BTS in more categories, which would have been guarteed to them if they were western acts instead of a non-western act.
BTS have been thriving in the industry for several years now and by not recognizing their successful accomplishments, MTV proves to be blind from their one-sided western orientation that have worked for the VMA’s for years.
In order to combat the problem of a non-western orientation, how can academy award shows do to improve nomination selections and get a clear idea of what music is popular among the people?
With BTS, Kpop, and other non-western artist continuing to enter the industry, academy award shows must be more open to different perspectives and have a clear idea of popularity of music based on online views, streams, and by album sales along side economic gain.
One of the first ways that can help nomination process reflect the current music culture in the U.S is by diversifying the organization that determines these nominations.
One of the biggest examples of this is the Recording Academy which recently sent invitations to 1340 individuals to their organization in order to diversify music and nominees for the Grammys, 8 of these new members being BTS and the CEO of BigHit Entertainment, Bang Si-Hyuk (Grein, 2019).
The Recording Academy is an example of what many award shows should do in order to bring expand their perspective in order to grasp the true reality of the shifting musical landscape.
Another important way MTV can capture the U.S listening culture is by putting together a team to follow the biggest music acts on social media. This can include streaming platforms like: Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube. This digital team will not only be up-to date on the biggest musical acts of the year but be able to capture the music culture of the youth in the U.S.
MTV’s fight to stay significant will be reliant on their cooperation change their ways to keep up with the new culture of music that has taken on a more Global platform then ever before. BTS’s lack of nomination is a clear call for MTV to change the ways they have previously analyzed music that includes a more non-western approach.
If there is not a motion to change, MTV will only face loss with viewership and social media outcry that will signal to investors and artist their limitation to acknowledge quality music.
BTS’s success has been revolutionizing music culture in the west for years now. With music awards not evolving to recognize that success will only continue to highlight the western mindset that, if not changed, will only continue to reject quality artist like BTS in the future.
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