They’ve got the hits. They’ve got the numbers. But when it comes to getting its own category at the Grammy Awards, K-pop will have to wait.
When it comes to numbers, no one is doing it like K-pop is. Backed by a strong and ardent fandom, K-pop groups routinely break records and establish themselves kings and queens of numbers.
Case in point, BTS’ new release ‘Butter’: Within 13 minutes of its release, ‘Butter’ had become the fastest music video in history to reach 10 million views. Within 21 hours, it had hit 100 million views on YouTube; 200 million in four days and one hour.
BTS have also topped major Billboard chart multiple times, becoming the only act to repeat the feat thrice in less than three months. Just hours ago, ‘Butter’ also ranked No. 26 on the Billboard Pop Songs Radio Airplay Chart, making this highest debut to date. Apart from the septet, however, groups like BLACKPINK, EXO, SEVENTEEN, and others are on a rampage of their own.
Despite the accolades, however, the Recording Academy says that we’re unlikely to see a K-pop category at the Grammys anytime soon. Speaking to Billboard, the Recording Academy’s Chief Awards Officer Bill Freimuth said: “The way I see it, modern K-pop really started in the ’90s. They took what was popular during that era and made it their own. What we’ve heard from the community is that they consider what they are creating to be pop music. Some argue that it’s pop music from Korea.”
Freimuth argues that despite being Korean pop music, the music is largely Korean interpretations of pop music rather than containing distinctly Korean elements.
More than that, however, it appears that despite growing fan calls for the Grammys to have their own K-pop category, the industry thinks otherwise. The process of adding an entirely new category depends on demand.
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Every year, the Academy accepts proposals for adding new categories, changing processes for certain awards, or redefining a current category. Should the proposal be passed/accepted, it is passed on to the Board of Trustees. For that to happen, however, the Recording Academy looks to seek at least 100 submissions for a proposal — a number that fell short when it came to K-pop in 2020.
Last year, the Academy received only 14 submissions in K-pop, accounting for less than 1.5% of submissions in the Pop category. So while fans may want to see a separate category for K-pop at the Grammys, it seems there just isn’t enough traction for the movement yet.
There is still hope, however! The Grammys do add new categories: only this year, the award show announced the addition of two new categories: Best Global Music Performance and Best Música Urbana Album.
You can read more about this topic over at the Asia Pop Observer.