Korean group BTS recently won the Billboard Music Award for Top Social
Artist. Their hashtag, ‘#BTSBBMAS,’ was retweeted over 300 million
times. The group, which consists of seven members, made history as the
first k-pop artists to win a BBMA. This win was very important not
only for the group, but for other Asians as well for numerous reasons.
Before the win, BTS, and k-pop in general, was largely unknown in the
West. Fans were prominent on social media, specifically Twitter, but
groups were not mentioned in media or nominated for music awards.
Not many people, both online and at the event, knew who BTS was. There
were confusion in regards to their appearance at the awards and
exactly what they had done to deserve to win.
This anonymity was removed as soon as BTS was announced as the winner
in a category that included big names in music, like Justin Bieber,
Shawn Mendes, Selena Gomez, and Ariana Grande.
Within minutes of the announcement of the win, multiple publications
like CNN, Rolling Stone and Elle Magazine began publishing articles
on the group. People began googling k-pop and streaming songs. BTS had
gone from a group that no one knew to people wondering when their next
This newfound popularity opened the possibility of Asian artists
succeeding in the west, where the success of western artists is
predominant. For many years, Asian artists had been told by management
that they would only thrive in Asian countries, so they would rarely
promote in the West. The fact that BTS won this award, which was voted
on by fans, over four western artists proves that k-pop and other
Asian entertainment would sell well and be appreciated here.
“I think that this will lead to BTS and other groups coming here to
America more to promote and hold concerts,” said freshman Frances
Montevilla. “It probably showed them that they could thrive here just
as much as Western artists.”
Asian people underrepresented in the western pop culture. BTS’ win
encourages young Asian people feel like there’s someone famous that
they can relate and look up to.
For a long time, Asian artists have gone largely underappreciated in
the West. Before members of a music band even join groups, they spend
arduous months, sometimes even years, training to fit the mold that
management companies like Big Hit, BTS’ management, require. Some say
that they are controlled by management, from what they say to what
they wear. They put in hard work in preparing albums and music videos,
plus the choreography to accompany the songs.
They go through all this, but never get any recognition or acknowledge
from the West, which is where gaining popularity in the entertainment
industry is most critical. The BBMA finally gives a k-pop group the
acclaim they deserve.
When BTS won the BBMA, they didn’t only win it for themselves, they
won it for Asian people as a whole. While it isn’t enough, it gave
Asian people a place in western media and entertainment that was fully