GRAMMYs Head of Awards Addresses BTS’ Complicated 2019 Recognition
Going by the temperature on social media, BTS fans (ARMYs) were an emotional mix of shocked, frustrated and ecstatic Friday morning (Dec. 7) when it was announced that the boundary-pushing South Korean music group's 2018 album, Love Yourself: Tear, had been nominated in the category of Best Recording Package for the 2019 GRAMMYs.
The nomination, while an overall step forward for K-pop recognition by the prestigious Recording Academy, was not technically earned by BTS themselves. Bill Freimuth, the Recording Academy's Head of Awards clarified to PopCrush that "the group is not nominated in any performance or songwriting categories] this year, rather the art director is nominated for the package design."
The nomination honors the group's branding agency, HuskyFox, a Seoul-based company which worked on the gorgeous, bold visuals for Love Yourself: Tear.
Understandably, some fans were frustrated by BTS' lack of a direct, music-oriented nomination. Considering the group's cultural impact this year, as well as their many record-breaking and history-making achievements—from hitting No. 1 on the Billboard 200 twice in 2018 to launching a sold-out U.S. stadium tour—it seemed boggling to many that Jin, Jimin, V, Suga, RM, J-Hope and Jungkook were not recognized outside of their aesthetic prowess.
However, Freimuth reminded that "it's important to note that BTS were not eligible in the Best New Artist category, as they've had too many recordings in the marketplace already to be eligible. That's kind of the hard and fast rule for us."
"I'm certainly aware of and respect their huge fan base, but every year there are a number of artist with huge fan bases that don't quite make it to that level of recognition by their peers, which are our voting members," he continued sympathetically.
As for the future of BTS, K-pop and South Korean music's prospects for GRAMMYs recognition, Freimuth added that he was hopeful but "reticent to predict the future."
"I congratulate them on their success so far and would certainly encourage [BTS] to continue entering the GRAMMY award process," he shared. "I know that K-pop is certainly a huge phenomenon and hope perhaps one day one of those recordings will rise to the level of recognition by our voters."