In an upscale hotel in Los Angeles, seven boys dressed in black tie attire huddle around a live streaming phone held up by a selfie stick. Some of them have gotten rid of their suit jackets and ties, leaving them in thousand-dollar untucked dress shirts and pants. “Hello, we are… BTS!” they say in unison, smiling at the camera. They are smiling for reasons obvious to those watching their live stream – they just got back from their first-ever appearance at the Grammys.
Korean superstars BTS made history on Sunday as the first ever Korean act to both present and be nominated for a Grammy award. What do they do right after? Skip any and all afterparties, opting to head back to their hotel and start up a live stream to tell their fans all about their experience.
“We finally made it here,” Namjoon, the group’s leader, says to the camera. “I was so surprised by how many staff members recognized us,” adds Jin, the eldest. “And then they say hello in Korean! And to hurry up,” he finishes. Jungkook, the youngest, follows up with his imitation of the Recording Academy staff’s attempt at Korean pronunciation. The rest of the members erupt into laughter. They have communicating with their fans through frequent live streams down pat.
Though being recognized at an event as prestigious as the Grammys is a novelty to the group members themselves, it’s not much of a surprise to their fans, nor to the reporters stopping them at every corner on the red carpet.
BTS’ fans are a hot topic in each interview featuring the group both on and off on the red carpet. For good reason – BTS have over 18 million followers on Twitter – and while that is a fraction compared to some western celebrities, it is still nothing to sneeze at.
At every airport, official appearance, and concert, BTS’ ARMY comes out in droves to support them. The screams accompanying BTS as they step out of their black SUVs notify every red carpet reporter of their arrival.
Despite their global success and appearances at western award ceremonies, BTS has yet to achieve a serious nomination in any of the major American award ceremonies.
At both the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards, BTS were nominated for Top Social Artist and Favorite Social Artist, respectively. Both these categories were decided through voting and were not actually awarded to BTS for their music, but rather for their global reach.
The Grammys were the first ceremony to disrupt this pattern, with BTS’ 2017 album Love Yourself: Tear receiving a nomination for Best Recording Package. Even this nomination wasn’t for BTS’ actual music. The award would instead have gone to the album’s artistic director.
With BTS’ upcoming album to be released sometime this year, there has yet to be an expert opinion on towards whether or not the group can achieve a western award for their music for next awards season, but the members have high hopes.