Why BTS Deserves a Grammy

Perhaps the most anxious group of people awaiting the 2020 Grammy Nominations on the morning of November 20 were the millions of fans of global superstars BTS.

ARMYs, as the fans are called, anxiously but patiently waited for 8 AM EST, only to be met with disappointment. After months of anticipation after BTS was first recognized by the Grammys; with an invitation to present at the 2019 Grammy Awards (where they did receive their first nomination for Best Recording Package), being photographed by the Academy’s official winners-only photographer, and even being invited to become voting members of the Recording Academy; the seven member Korean pop group was not given a single nomination.

Among those nominated were Beyonce, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and other huge names in music. All who were outsold and outperformed by BTS this year in both album sales and touring. So why were they left out of the nominations?

The most obvious arguments to make are cases of xenophobia and a disrespect for the K-pop genre and overall “boyband” world.

Comparisons to the absence of Grammys for groups like NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and most recently One Direction are made against the argument of xenophobia/racism, but are still warranted. America especially has a notorious history with looking down upon the culture of boybands and their “crazed teenage girl” fans. The stigma around these artists creates a barrier that prevents most people from seeing their true talent and powerful place in the music industry. Those who are close-minded jump to the conclusion that popular artists only achieve their success through obsessed fans. But why are fans “obsessed” to begin with?

BTS is so much more than a “manufactured” group of attractive young men made to sell to teenage girls.

Take one dip into BTS’s discography and you will find many critically acclaimed songs spanning multiple genres, and a lot with beautiful lyrics and messages, such as “Reflection,” “Intro: Persona,” “Paradise,” and “Spring Day.” Go further and you’ll fall into the intricate “Bangtan Universe”: a series of cinematic music videos and short films that began with album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt. 1 in 2015 that encompass an entire storyline beyond the music itself, which now includes a webtoon and a book to expand on the story. Some may say that this is all a ploy to make more money, but it is undeniable that this level of artistry and thought is rarely seen. 

BTS at the press conference for Map of the Soul: Persona from Big Hit Entertainment.

There is truly no one doing it like BTS.

One of their most recent achievements is releasing their third number one album this year alone, Map of the Soul: Persona, which was a record held only by The Beatles before BTS. Every member of BTS has a hand in writing/producing their music, as well. This record is not to be shrugged off with the notion that their songs are crafted for profit and mass consumption. BTS achieves what they do through their talent and dedication, and of course with support from ARMYs. 

Their Love Yourself: Speak Yourself world tour in support of Persona just wrapped up last month in Seoul and had an overall earning of $116.6 million. The sold-out stadium concerts came complete with a set design of giant panthers, a bounce house, and a full fireworks show

In the midst of celebrating their sixth anniversary with various special releases and fanmeetings/concerts, their single with Halsey “Boy With Luv” became their second song to become certified platinum. From the release of Persona in April to now, BTS’s entire discography has charted on iTunes three times, with the most recent being in response to the Grammys snub. Everywhere you look, BTS is achieving something new and continuing to make history.

BTS puts an insane amount of hard work and devotion into their art, which they have done since they first began (debuted) in 2013.

Even at home in South Korea, it took two years for them to receive recognition with a win from Korean music shows. The BTS members, and ARMYs, are no strangers to waiting for the recognition and appreciation they deserve. For years they have been overlooked, and while they have been awarded a few titles such as Top Duo/Group at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, they deserve more.

BTS continues to prove that they deserve their spot as one of the top artists of all time and hopefully next year we will see that officially recognized by the Grammy Awards.

Written by: Emerson Redding

You Should Know: Flipturn & Early Eyes

This week on You Should Know are Flipturn and Early Eyes; I’ve been listening to these two bands for over two years because a friend recommended them and I was hooked. I hope you’ll feel the same.

Flipturn from Facebook.

Formed in high school in 2015, Flipturn is a five-piece band from Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Their first EP Heavy Colors was released in 2017, and includes the first Flipturn song I ever heard: “Vanilla.” I loved how they sounded like a group of friends who all shared a love of music and came together to create just for fun, and ended up making some really good tunes. My favorite off the EP is probably the last song “Hypoxia,” for its more emotional sound, with “Cold” as a close second.

Staying with a band from their first release and being able to watch them grow is quite a special thing.

With Flipturn, I fell in love with their first songs and was amazed by the new love I felt from their new stuff. The raw indie-pop sound of Heavy Colors only grew and got better. Seven track Citrona, released last year, still carries that raw sound, but their growth as musicians and as a band is apparent. Complete with samples and interludes, Citrona brings a more developed feel of Flipturn. My favorite track off the EP is “August,” which features Dillon Basse’s unique and powerful vocals accompanied by dream-like guitar that tells a story of a lost love. The acoustic version trades a heavier rock sound for beautiful strings and doesn’t lose the power the original has.

Listen to Flipturn’s newest single “Eleanor” here.

Early Eyes from Facebook.

Similar to Flipturn, I’ve listened to Early Eyes since their first official release with “Waste of Time” in 2017 and I’ve loved everything they’ve put out since.

Following their first single, the Minneapolis-based band released their first EP Minutes that would bring the first of three wonderful EPs from Early Eyes over the next about a year and a half. My favorite song off Minutes is “All It Will Be” because of the dramatic shift in sound it has between the beginning and end of the song. The next EP the band put out was over a year later, called Decorating. The first track “Penelope” existed only in a live/demo format before the EP’s release, and fans were very excited to finally have a studio version of one of their favorite Early Eyes songs (me included). The sound of Decorating reflects some of the growth the band did as people within the year and provides a sense of “coming into their own” for Early Eyes as they continued to grow as a band.

Their Latest EP All Shades of Teal continues to showcase the musical growth of the band.

My favorite off All Shades of Teal is “Holding Hands”, a slower song than usual that includes emotional piano and strings. I also love “Patternless” because it’s slightly slower too and shows the versatility of Early Eyes. It’s been over a year since All Shades of Teal came out, and I have been eager to hear more. The band just returned home from recording in LA, and will hopefully release new music very soon.

In the meantime, listen to Early Eyes here in anticipation for their new music.

Written by: Emerson Redding

You Should Know: Little Comets & Sure Sure

This week on You Should Know are two of my top favorite bands, Little Comets and Sure Sure, both of which create unique music that keeps you listening.

Photo from Facebook

Most of Little Comets’ music is guitar-driven with captivating drums.

“Adultery,” “One Night In October,” and “Joanna” are great songs off their first album In Search Of Elusive Little Comets which they are celebrating the 10-year-anniversary of soon. One of my favorites off that album is “Intelligent Animals”, one of the special occasions where the band turns to the piano as the main instrument. The piano has always been the instrument that draws the most emotion from me and the beautiful melody that is paired with singer Robert Coles’ intense vocals makes this song quite powerful. Poignant “The Assisted” is also primarily piano; and my top favorite Little Comets song is their piano version of “Waiting in the Shadows in the Dead of Night,” a song about the inevitable loss of a loved one.

Following the release of last album Worhead in 2017, Little Comets has been putting out singles with the most recent being “3 Minute Faltz.”

This song captures the band very well, with strong guitar and even some piano if you listen close enough. It also features intricate lyrics on various social issues that opens with the line “total sexist adoration spills across a stilted nation” and just keeps going, complete with equally as intricate delivery.

Another thing I love about Little Comets is the unique art design, specifically the writing, found in everything they release and the effort that goes into it.

Listen to Little Comets here and follow them on Twitter here.

Photo from Facebook

If you’ve seen a recent viral video of a horse dancing, you’ve heard Sure Sure.

The song in the background is Sure Sure’s cover of “This Must Be The Place” by Talking Heads. It’s one of my favorite songs by them, and also my favorite song live. I actually saw the band live before ever listening to them, and I knew they would end up becoming one of my favorite bands because of how good their performance was. I cannot stress enough how much you should see them live; they’re coming back here in April opening for COIN at The Observatory, so if you can make it you should definitely go.

Every single one of Sure Sure’s songs are so good and they continue to get better. If I could list every song here to recommend, I would. But here are some of my favorites from the LA-based band.

Starting off with their first EP Songs From 2014, “The Girls” has a perfect blend of synth/keys, drums, and guitar (and also a shaker when they perform it live) and is a good introduction to the band. “The Caller” is still one of my favorite Sure Sure tracks, and I particularly love the guitar riff and piano that starts about a third of the way through. Another one of their older songs “New York New Dog” is also one of my favorites.

Their self-titled album has more songs with that perfect blend, notably “Giants” and “Friends.” From newest EP What’s It Like?, my favorites are “Good Thing” and “Out Of My Element.” Sure Sure is very talented at making songs that don’t sound the same or repetitive, while keeping the same zestful personality created by that perfect blend that keeps you intrigued with every song.

Sure Sure also goes beyond just making good music.

They’ve created a street team called True Friends where fans can get things like unreleased songs and special merch, as well as be part of a Facebook group where fans can interact with each other and the band. They also have a phone number you can reach them on if you have questions or just want to talk to them: (657) 444-7579. The way they interact with fans/True Friends is another aspect that makes them, in my opinion, one of the best bands. 

Listen to Sure Sure here and watch a past episode of KCR’s Secret Sessions to learn more about the band here.

Written by: Em Redding

Hozier at Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre

Hozier gave a powerful performance that evoked moments of catharsis from the crowd at Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre on Saturday, October 26, 2019.

The stage was basked in red light as Hozier and his band members appeared. Accompanied by Rachel Beauregard, Jessica Berry, Cormac Curran, Rory Doyle, Emily Kohavi, Kristen Rogers, and Alex Ryan, Hozier began the show with “As It Was” followed by “Dinner & Diatribes”.

Behind the band, images of protests and fighting for rights were shown during “Nina Cried Power.”

The song is “a thank you note to the legacy of artists from the 20th Century whose work still inspires us” and would not be the first instance of protest music during the night. Hozier played his new song “Jack Boot Jump,” after politely asking the crowd to not record it and just “be present.” The rest of the band members left, leaving only Hozier and Doyle on drums for this “not subtle” song inspired by the protest music of Woody Guthrie and named after George Orwell’s quote “‘if you want to imagine the future, imagine a jack boot stomping on a human face forever”.

While Hozier’s newest album, and namesake of the tour, Wasteland, Baby!, is beautiful and had the crowd singing all night, his old material is what gained the most excitement.

Songs like “Someone New” and “Jackie and Wilson” from his first album seemed to receive the most reactions. Personally, these were some of my favorite songs of the night because his first album as a whole is special to me so it was quite fulfilling to finally hear some songs from it live.

Classic “Take Me to Church” was the last song before the encore and probably the one with the most overall energy to “end” the show. For the actual end, Hozier performed “Cherry Wine” and “Work Song”, and the stage was now adorned in vines to complement the beautiful feeling created by these songs musically.

Hozier made a point throughout the show to thank the people helping him; introducing the band members with a spotlight, saying their names whenever he had a chance, listing members of the crew, and displaying their pictures after the show as a final thank you.

Listen to Hozier here.

Written by: Emerson Redding
Photos by: Emerson Redding