As mentioned on Friday, for most of the week leading up to the Grammys, it wasn’t clear whether or not BTS would be able to perform as a full team of seven members, after the band announced Jungkook’s positive COVID diagnosis last Monday. By Saturday though, it was official – JK had cleared Grammy protocols and could join RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, and V for their first live in-person lead-act performance at the Grammys and, naturally, it was one of the highlights of the night. 


Naturally because, of course, they have set their own standard of excellence – both under the best of conditions and also in the most unpredictable of conditions. Ironically, though, because they are just that f-cking good, it often gets overlooked the effort that goes into what we see on stage. And in this case in particular, considering that Jungkook was in quarantine until Saturday, it meant that they had literally no rehearsal time as a complete group until just the day before their performance. And if you saw the performance you know the quality of it, how intricate the elements were, how precise the choreography and how tricky were the formations. But this will tell you how prepared they were ahead of time. How much time they would have spent on this before their arrival in the US. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, here it is in two parts


Most people are calling this a Bond-themed performance and I can see why they’d automatically think of the spy theme. If we’re doing the spy analogy though, I feel like it was more Mission: Impossible than Bond but, really, to me, this was all about Oceans. Ocean’s Seven instead of Eleven. They were in Vegas, after all. And they knocked off a museum, replacing the art in the gallery with their own images. Jin played the role of the master hacker, Jungkook breaks in on a wire, V is perfectly cast as the decoy, and then later they’re dancing around those laser beam sensors in jazz mode… you get the idea. That was definitely the idea. And perfectly executed. 

Like the card flip from V, with Olivia Rodrigo in the audience, up to Jungkook on stage? That was real, no trickery, as they explained during a livestream following the Grammys

And for the uninitiated, those of you still naïve enough to doubt this, BTS being BTS, they will prove it to you later because they always, always have cameras rolling on their work. Which means at some point it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll release behind-the-scenes footage of them practising this move, and probably their own camera angle of the card toss in real time at the Grammys, and then you’ll know – these people do not f-ck around. If they say they did it for real, they absolutely did it for real. 


But we haven’t even talked about that dance break yet. It was choreography with clothing, their suit jackets used as props, guitars at first, and then almost as weapons. Those of us who grew up watching martial arts will recognise some of those fight techniques built into the dance – it’s imaginative and intricate and a little bit like a magic show too with how the jackets come together and split apart? At top speed!


There may still be naysayers out there who don’t appreciate but you know who would? The artists in that room, the ones who also perform for a living – they get it, they see it. And not just the ones in front of the camera but behind it – the production designers, the camera operators, the lighting technicians, that entire control room. These are the people who do this for a living, who can’t be fooled. And up and down, in their business, in my business, actually, because I too work in broadcasting, to a person, they can verify that BTS is the highest quality entertainment…almost too good, actually. Because there’s so much going on in their performance, so much detail, with so many moving parts, that it’s a challenge in and of itself to decide which shot to take. 


My inbox and my DMs today are full of messages from people all like, holy sh-t, just watched BTS at the Grammys, I get it now. When I tell you that last night was only a fraction of what they’re capable of, considering that at Korean award shows they’re known to get like a full half-hour for their set… 

Welcome to the party. 

Seems like everyone wants a piece of this party. Every outlet was thirsting to create tweets about BTS for the likes. And so many celebrities wanted their moment with BTS last night. So does it matter that they didn’t win a Grammy? I mean, sure, RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook want a Grammy so in that sense, yes it matters – to them. But for the big picture, we look to Beyoncé who never gets it wrong. Beyoncé has a lot of Grammys but she’s never won a big four Grammy, never won Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, or Best New Artist. And is still widely considered to be the greatest of our time. As she said, cultural currency isn’t defined by a trophy.