The Grammy’s: Fair or Biased?

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Photo Credit:

Ashlynn Brown

The 63rd Grammy Awards will be held on Jan. 31, 2021 and for the first time in American and Korean history, global Korean boyband BTS have received a Grammy nomination. They are the first Korean act to do so with their own song, as the last time BTS were on the award show they did not have a nomination and only performed because they had done a collaboration with Lil Nas X on his famous song ‘Old Town Road’. 


The nomination is a huge achievement for the boys, and so far it is the only Grammy nomination they’ve been able to receive for their actual music. However, to ARMY (the septet’s fanbase), the 2021 nomination doesn’t seem like enough. It has been two years since the group’s last round of recognition at the Grammys, and in this year alone, they have released three chart-topping albums as well as topping the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart three times with three different songs. 


Let’s compare the group’s achievements to those of the South Korean film ‘Parasite’. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were able to look past the language barrier to give ‘Parasite’ an Oscar, but when it comes to BTS, the recording academy failed to do the same. Instead, the academy decided to nominate ‘Dynamite’ (the group’s first full English song), which sent a clear message to ARMY: If it’s not in English, it will not receive a Grammy Award.


This angered the fanbase, as they and the septet they adore have always believed that music transcends language. There should not be a barrier between a song sung in a different language and the fans that listen to it. After all, the band has been making music since 2013 and the only time they get western recognition is when they make a fully English song with a catchy pop tune? Seriously, America?


The Grammys have shown signs of xenophobia (dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries) to BTS’s predecessors of Asian and Asian American artists, and yet again, the group is forced to follow in their footsteps to appeal to the white audiences and are told they should at least be grateful for their seat at the table. And music, in fact, does transcend language. BTS topped the Hot 100 chart twice with Korean lyrics, first was their remix of Jason Derulo’s ‘Savage Love’ and the second with their latest single ‘Life Goes On’. 


The problem with this is not the language. The academy has time and time again refused to step out of the ongoing system of racial bias, and this was seen again when this year’s nominations snubbed The Weeknd and many other artists of color their chances of being nominated. BTS have had the most successful 2020 for their music, but the nomination for the Grammy Awards was bare minimum. If ‘Dynamite’ hadn’t been in English, the song and group wouldn’t have received a nomination at all. BTS have already proven themselves to be much bigger and have much more to offer, but when will the western music industry finally get over their xenophobia and acknowledge this?