I remember just before the pandemic hit in North America, early 2020, when BTS did James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, how many people I heard from, both friends and strangers, because that was their introduction to the band that they’d heard or read me obsessing over for years, and almost all of them were like, oh OK, I get it. And some of them were, like, help… I’ve been sucked into the BTS black hole and I can’t get out.
BTS is always entertaining on Corden, his show is a good format for their energy, and that Carpool Karaoke, in particular, was a great showcase of their personalities, and what Corden can bring to the late night format. Seeing as they’re now in LA for a few weeks ahead of their four upcoming shows at SoFi Stadium kicking off in a few days, it’s not a surprise to see them back on Corden, back in his studio where they’ve appeared several times over the years, for an interview and a performance. And earlier in the day they were seen doing a traffic stop segment that will likely air on an upcoming episode. But people posted it all over social media. And it also ended up on local news because one of the local news anchors just happened to have been in traffic at that time:
Seems like they did three songs with outfit and set changes. Which means they had to run into the intersection, set up, perform, and then run back out. It looks chaotic and hilarious and amazing. And there was clearly more excitement than irritation from the drivers. From a TV producer porn point of view, I can’t wait to see how they put this together.
All of this happened, of course, just after BTS received the news of their second ever Grammy nomination, in the same category as last year: Pop Duo/Group performance. Just one nomination, even though they were eligible for many more. Which means their massive hit, “Butter”, was shut out of the Record of the Year, one of the four major categories. The reason many people – and not just their fans but industry experts and culture critics – were expecting that BTS would contend for Record of the Year is because “Butter”, again, is one of the most successful songs of 2021. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 ten times, the most of any song this year. Not that chart performance should be the only consideration for nominees, but when you consider that among the ten Record of the Year nominees, several are indeed some of the biggest chart-toppers of 2021 (“Peaches”, “Kiss Me More”, “Montero”, “drivers licence”), “Butter” seems like a glaring omission.
But then again, the Recording Academy members’ blind spots are well known. Like I said in today’s site open, they’re way behind the curve on the impact of Spanish-language music around the world. And in BTS’s case, given that their only nomination is in a performance category, they’re clearly determined to only see BTS as a Korean boy group with great stage presence, and not the well-rounded musicians that they actually are. Although, you know, they have no shame in exploiting BTS’s popularity, asking them to participate in the nominations announcement and they’ll probably invite them to perform on the show in January.
As for whether or not they’ll win…
It’s a longshot. What we’ve seen here with Jon Batiste’s nominations – and he’s great, this is not a knock on him, he should be included, it’s the ELEVEN nominations leading the pack that’s curious to a lot of people, as the New York Times pointed out – is that the Recording Academy and its broadcast network (CBS) and viewership skews older. In BTS’s category, there’s Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, who won in this category last year with Ariana Grande. I’d say then that they’re probably the frontrunners. And to be clear, this is no disrespect to Tony Bennett. He's a legend. He’s 95 years old. He’s struggling with his health but he’s still out there trying to do his thing – which is to entertain. The only point here, without taking away from Tony’s musical contributions and legacy, is that the Grammys’ taste lanes are narrow. As an institution that wants to represent and honour all music, on “music’s biggest night”, they really haven’t been living up to what they claim for a long time.