By Lee Minji
SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) -- With announcements for the annual Grammy nominations just a few days away, eyes are on whether K-pop will make a breakthrough with long-awaited nominations this year.
The Recording Academy, an American Association of music professionals, will be announcing on Tuesday (U.S. time) a full list of nominees that will be competing for the upcoming Grammy Awards ceremony scheduled for Jan. 31, 2021.
The announcement, streamed virtually amid the new coronavirus pandemic, will reveal the nominees for a total of 84 categories, including the so-called big four categories -- album, record and song of the year, as well as best new artist.
The obvious big question for K-pop fans is whether BTS, the K-pop megastar that is breaking charts and writing history as a South Korean music act, will get a nod from the Grammys, which is seen as one of the most conservative music awards toward non-Western acts and songs.
BTS is no stranger to the award itself. The seven-piece band appeared as presenters in 2019 and as performers earlier this year. The band's rappers joined American rapper Lil Nas X to perform his record hit "Old Town Road" with lines from the remix "Seoul Town Road."
The band's album "Love Yourself: Tear," which earned BTS its first Billboard Hot 200 No. 1 in May 2018, was also nominated for best recording package in 2019. But no nomination for its music followed.
After having spent arguably the most successful year in its seven-year career with the single "Dynamite" and the album "Map of the Soul: 7," views are growing that things may be different this year.
Its first all-English "Dynamite" catapulted the group to become the first K-pop act to top the Billboard Hot 100 and get on U.S. radio airwaves. The band has exploded on global music charts and bagged prizes, including the coveted best song at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Earlier this year, the band picked up the top social artist for the fourth straight year at the Billboard Music Awards and four awards at the MTV Video Music Awards, including the highly competitive category of best pop song with another single "ON."
In June, the band's seven members were among 1,340 people who were offered to join the Recording Academy as voting members in ongoing efforts to diversify its membership. Big Hit Entertainment chief Bang Si-hyuk also joined as a professional member.
Some U.S. media outlets have commented on how this year may finally bring Grammy nominations to K-pop acts like BTS and BLACKPINK.
U.S. music publication Billboard named BTS' "Dynamite" as a potential nominee for record year of the year, which would make the septet the first boy band to be nominated in the category since *NSYNC's "Bye Bye Bye" in 2001.
It also mentioned BLACKPINK for the best new artist category saying, "The all-female group is vying to become the first K-pop act to receive a nomination in this category."
The quartet, which owns several billion-view music videos, including "Ddu-du Ddu-du" and "Kill This Love," reached No. 2 on the Billboard main chart with its debut full album "The Album."
The AP also named BTS as a potential nominee.
"BTS, who finally launched their first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this year after years of Top 40 successes, could finally earn their first Grammy nomination this year," it said, mentioning a possible best pop duo/group performance nod with "Dynamite" and best global music album for their latest album.
It also picked BLACKPINK as a potential candidate for best new artist, saying these nominations "would make up for the academy's years-late recognition of the K-pop sound and its all-star players."
BTS and its agency, Big Hit Entertainment, appear to be taking in the growing hype surrounding its potential Grammy nod.
In a recent press conference marking the band's release of the new album "BE," the band's members said the Grammys is the big moment they've all been waiting for.
"I think the feat we would like to additionally achieve is winning a Grammy," Jin said. "We have the Billboard Hot 100 achievement, which is also very honorable, but I hope our name is called during the Grammy nominations announcement."
RM reminisced how it had been their dreams as trainees to perform at the Grammys.
"It was a stage that left the biggest footprint when we were trainees who were dreaming and growing," RM said. "It was one of our goals and thoughts that kept us as a team. I think I'll be in tears if I receive it."
The BTS member, however, questioned the label of K-pop that accompanies the group in the U.S. music industry and to what extent that classification is valid.
When asked whether their Billboard success with "Dynamite" means the group is fully in the U.S. pop music mainstream, RM answered: "To what extent can (songs) be seen as K-pop; if a Korean group sings in English, is this K-pop? The boundary is crumbling in many ways as K-pop is getting bigger."
A recent article published on Weverse Magazine, a namesake magazine associated with Big Hit's online community for fans, posed a similar question to the Grammys.
"Still, it's fair to ask just how far the Grammys are willing to reach, both at home in the U.S. and abroad, to embrace musical diversity and current trends," it said, bringing up the landmark wins of director Bong Joon-ho's iconic film "Parasite" at the Oscars.
"What kind of music will the Grammys remember "Map of the Soul: 7" and "Dynamite" as when labels like K-pop and Asia are erased?"