The Korean septet BTS has finally bagged the highest award at the AMAs: Artist Of The Year. They are the first Asian artists ever to get this award. While their win was well-deserved, it was an achievement that was long overdue.
On November 22, BTS attended the American Music Awards (AMAs). They performed their songs live on stage there for the first time in two years and won major awards. One of which was Artist Of The Year. Their fans, known as ARMY, were ecstatic by this achievement as well as everyone else worldwide. Even I was crying happy tears during their award speech!
Before them, no Asian (or Asian-American) artist had ever won this award. A point that is paradoxically interesting and depressing at the same time.
In the past four years, BTS has made a formidable presence in the US music industry. They have five best-selling albums, are topping the Billboard Charts, and are one of the most streamed artists on Spotify. These achievements alone should have given them laurels at the top American music awards. But there were many hurdles in their path.
A significant issue was the American music industry’s racial bias. The band consists of East Asians, a race that has been stereotyped and insulted in the US. The music industry tends to laud those artists who are white, so they took a long time acknowledging the group. On top of that, BTS has sung in their native Korean language (before Dynamite). Hence, their songs had trouble getting played over American radio, which prefers English songs. Award shows would not nominate them for top awards but would use them to increase their TV ratings.
When the group released Dynamite in 2020, they finally got to top the Billboard Hot 100 Singles. Since then, they kept this position with their second English single Butter in 2021.
While it was an English song that gave the boys their first Number One hit, the band’s Korean single Life Goes On topped the charts alongside Dynamite. And since then, BTS have been dominating the music world like never before. Their win today is proof of this.
Thanks to BTS, non-American artists can feel confident about having this achievement too!
While this win is significant for Asian artists overall, other artists worldwide can feel a shift in the music industry. BTS showed that any artist can be well-loved for singing in their native language and be lauded for it. They can express their artistry without compromising on their racial identity. And that music is universal: the world can love a song that is not in English.
As a fan myself, I was surprised to see myself loving a group that made songs in a language alien to me! While I have nothing against English songs, BTS showed me that there are many artists worldwide creating great music whose lyrics necessarily do not need to be understood to enjoy their craft. Even if you don’t like BTS, you can still give other non-English artists a try. They are making great songs, even if they aren’t in English. And we should at least listen to them, too!
Once again, congratulations boys!
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