BTS and the Grammy’s: An Unpopular Opinion

The success of Dynamite, charting the number one and two spots off and on since it’s release, has made buzz throughout the industry. This now has people talking, including ARMY, about BTS being eligible for a Grammy nomination. Grammy nominations will be announced November 24th with the awards tentative date for January 31, 2021. Although Dynamite has had an amazing amount of success worldwide, with virtual performances at the VMA’s, BBMA’s, AMA’s, The Today Show and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, it goes without saying that this is definitely the song of the year. However does Dynamite represent the best that BTS has put out in 2020.

Dynamite vs. Map of The Soul: 7

Dynamite, without a doubt, has been the global breakout hit of 2020. The feel good song has climbed the charts straight to the number one spot on Billboard, thanks in huge part to A.R.M.Y. More important than climbing the charts, is the extensive airplay it’s received on Billboard Top 40 radio stations all over the U.S. It could be contributed in part to the song being all in English, a first for the group. Undeniably, ARMY made it their goal to have Dynamite make waves in the U.S. market and make it to number one.

Even with BTS’s growing popularity in mainstream media in the past 2-3 years, BTS still has a hard time having their songs played on radio stations. Many have said that it’s in part to their songs being primarily in Korean. However that wasn’t the case when 2017’s Despacito by Luis Fonzi, an all Spanish pop song, played on Top 40 radio stations for weeks. It even landed at number one on Billboard 100 charts for 16 weeks. It’s popularity and play was most definitely also a result of the remix sung by Justin Beiber. However even with immense popularity and airplay, it still didn’t garner as Grammy nomination.

Dynamite is not the only song BTS released in 2020. In February they release Map Of The Soul 7, the conclusion of their MOTS era. This full EP gave us a total of 20 tracks, some new songs such as On, Inner Child and We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal, plus previously released Persona, Shadow and Boy With Luv. MOTS 7 delivered some amazing tracks indicative to what most fans expect of the BTS plus some surprises. However the one thing that wasn’t a surprise was how personal the songs and lyrics were on this album.

Songs such as Friends, written by Jimin about his soulmate friendship with V. Inner Child by V about looking back on his struggles of being himself and encouraging his younger self. Or My Time by Jungkook describing the how different his life has been compared to peers his age. Whether they wrote, co-wrote (translate from English to Korean), produced or co-produced the tracks they were involved. It is also well known that the “Rap Line” write their own lyrics when rap verses are in a song, giving them writing credit on the track. Yet, with Dynamite, the entire song lyrics and producing was done by David Stewart and Jessica Agombar. This fact makes a huge difference in terms of Grammy nominations.

How Grammy’s Nominations Work

Let’s start with how one receives a Grammy nomination. First, an artist, their labels or entertainment company must submit their work(s), released from September 2019-August 2020, to the Recording Academy for consideration for nomination. Think of it like campaigning in a Presidential election (U.S.). In order to get to the general election, you must go prove your eligible to be nominated in those categories to be selected for the final vote. If you make the final vote, then you are a nominee up for vote by your peers in the industry to win the award aka Grammy.

Next, let’s look at the major categories BTS have allegedly submitted for consideration; Record of the Year , Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo/Group for Dynamite, Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for MOTS 7. How an artist or label determines what songs or albums to submit for is based on which ones are most likely to be chosen for nomination. Right now it would appear that Dynamite is BTS’s greatest chance for a Grammy nomination. Based on Grammy rules the only award that any of the members of BTS would receive for Dynamite would be for be for Best Pop Performance by a Duo/Group and Song of the Year. This would be for their overall vocal performance of Dynamite on the LP. Because they do not have writing or producer credit on Dynamite the awards for ROTY would not go to the members. Below I have listed the writer and producer credits. However if they were to receive nominations for MOTS 7, all seven members would be eligible to win Grammy’s not only as artist but as writers and producers on the album.

Dynamite Writer and Producer credits:

Producer(s): David Stewart Released: August 21, 2020 Songwriter(s): David Stewart; Jessica Agombar

Map Of The Soul 7 Writers and Producer credits:

1.Intro: Persona” (performed by RM)Hiss NoiseRMPdoggHiss Noise2:54
2.Boy with Luv” (작은 것들을 위한 시; Jageun geotdeureul wihan si [lit. “A Poem for Small Things”]) (featuring Halsey)PdoggRMMelanie Joy FontanaMichel “Lindgren” Schulz“Hitman” BangSugaEmily WeisbandJ-HopeAshley FrangipanePdogg3:49
3.Make It RightFred GibsonEd SheeranBenjy GibsonJo HillRMSugaJ-HopeF. Gibson3:42
4.“Jamais Vu” (performed by Jin, J-Hope, and Jungkook)Marcus McCoanOwen RobertsMatty ThomsonMax Lynedoch GrahamReynoldsCamilla Anne StewartRMJ-Hope”Hitman” BangArcadesBad MilkM. McCoan3:46
5.DionysusPdoggJ-HopeSupreme BoiRMSugaRoman CampoloPdogg4:08
6.“Interlude: Shadow” (performed by Suga)SugaEl CapitxnGhstloopPdoggRMSugaEl CapitxnGhstloop4:20
7.Black SwanPdoggRMAugust RigoVince NantesClyde KellyPdogg3:18
8.“Filter” (performed by Jimin)Tom WiklundHilda Stenmalm”Hitman” BangLee Seu-ranLutradankedae JungAhn Bok-jinFallin’ DildNeon BoyTom Wiklund3:00
9.“My Time” (시차; Sicha) (performed by Jungkook)Sleep DeezRMJungkookJayrah GibsonPdoggPrintz BoardRichelle AlleyneSleep DeezPdogg3:54
10.“Louder Than Bombs”Troye SivanAllie XLelandBram InscoreRMSugaJ-HopeBram Inscore3:37
11.OnPdoggRMRigoMichel SchulzSugaJ-HopeAntonina ArmatoKrysta YoungsJulia RossPdogg4:06
12.“Ugh!” (욱; Uk) (performed by RM, J-Hope, and Suga)Supreme BoiSugaRMHiss NoiseJ-HopeIcecream DrumSupreme Boi3:45
13.“00:00 (Zero O’Clock)” (performed by Jin, V, Jimin, and Jungkook)PdoggRMJessie Lauryn FoutzAntonina ArmatoPdogg4:10
14.“Inner Child” (performed by V)PdoggRMVRyan LawrieMax GrahamMatthew ThomsonAdien LewisEllis MiahJames F. ReynoldsArcades3:53
15.“Friends” (친구; Chingu) (performed by V and Jimin)PdoggJiminSupreme BoiAdoraMartin SjølieStella JangPdoggJimin3:19
16.“Moon” (performed by Jin)Slow RabbitRMJinAdoraDJ SwivelCandace Nicole SosaMikael Daniel CaesarAlex Ludwig LindellSlow Rabbit3:29
17.“Respect” (performed by RM and Suga)Hiss NoiseSugaRMEl CapitxnHiss NoiseSugaEl Capitxn3:58
18.“We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal”DJ SwivelAudienSunshine (Cazzi Opeia & Ellen Berg)Etta ZelmaniRMWill TannerGusten DahlqvistCandace Nicole SosaSugaJ-HopeElohimAntonina ArmatoAlexander Magnus KarlssonAlexei ViktorovitchAudienHenrik Michelsen4:22
19.“Outro: Ego” (performed by J-Hope)J-HopeHiss NoiseSupreme BoiHiss Noise3:16
20.“On” (featuring Sia (digital bonus track))ArmatoRigoFontanaJ-HopeRossYoungsSchulzPdoggRMSuga 4:06

Below is an explanation of the Recording Academy’s aka Grammy voting process by DKDKTV.

Not Just A Boyband

Even being considered for a Grammy is a great honor. It shows that your peers are recognizing the hard work you have put in as a singer, writer, producer, etc. for the music that was released that year. To this day the only “boy band” to achieve expectational Grammy nominations and wins has been the Beatles (23 nominations, 7 wins). Modern day boy bands Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC have both been nominated 8 times, but never won.

For many black Americans The Jackson Five, New Edition and Boys II Men were revered as “ boy bands” in the black community. The Jackson 5 were nominated for 2 Grammys and New Edition with 1 nomination. Boys II Men however, over the course of their career, were nominated 15 times with 4 wins. Overall popularity, global success and chart topping songs does not guarantee consideration let alone a nomination. For BTS, if they are nominated, this will be the first for a “boyband” since *NSYNC in 2000 for Bye, Bye, Bye.

Many BTS fans will agree that the 7 members, RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, Jungkook are more than just singers and dancers. They are also known as creators, as writers and producers of a lot of the music they sing. With MOTS7, every single song has at least one member or more listed as either a writer or producer. Suga was the first member to be made a full time member of the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA) As of January 2020 RM and J-Hope have been added as full time members as well. Not all Korean entertainment companies allow their artist to be active participants in the creation of the music they record and perform. Within the last 10 years or so, more and more idols are having their voices heard in the creation of the music their groups record. Here is a list of Idols with credits in KOMCA.

For me, the fact that BTS may be nominated for their first Grammy for a song they didn’t even write or produce bothers me. Even though they have submitted MOTS7 for consideration, to be honest, their greatest chance of a nomination will be for Dynamite. It would still be a great accomplishment as an artist for a song you recorded. However a nomination as a writer and producer, that is an example of your own creativity. By far so many of their songs from past albums deserve Grammy recognition and this is something that they have dreamed about. Suga and the rest of the members have mentioned, first going to the Grammys, then performing at the Grammys then being nominated at the Grammys as a goal. So far they have done 2 out of 3. So I’m sure which ever way a nomination manifest itself they will be happy and A.R.M.Y. will be proud.

What I’ve Learned

What I’ve realized while writing this article is that hard work is still hard work. Whether as a writer and producer, an engineer or a performer. It takes all those people from different aspects of the industry to make it work. To have your work recognized regardless of the industry you’re in is an amazing thing. So as I write these last few sentences it is 10:56 am EST on Tuesday November 24th, 2020 and approximately an hour away from the 2021 Grammy nominations to be announced. I, like so many ARMY are waiting with anticipation to see if our boys dreams have come true. Either way we are proud of everything they have accomplished, Grammy or no Grammy.

Until next time….

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