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


BlackPink at the Los Angeles Forum

You heard it here first, ladies & gentlemen. Your local K-Pop fan of 10 years has finally attended her first K-Pop/BlackPink concert; what a shocker.

Lucky for me, I was able to fight off ticket prices of over $600 to see BlackPink. I’m sure the name of this group sounds familiar to a few individuals, but if you aren’t certain, I’ll explain.

BlackPink is a 4 member girl group in South Korea from the notorious, YG Entertainment. They began their debut as a group in 2016 with their hit song, “Boombayah.” The members include: Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa. What makes this group so unique, besides their girl crush concept, is where these girls are from.

Jisoo comes from South Korea, but the other 3 girls came from different areas. Though Jennie was born in Korea, she was raised in New Zealand. Rosé was born in New Zealand, but was raised in Australia. Lastly, Lisa was born & raised in Bangkok, Thailand, which makes her the first non-Korean K-Pop artist from YG Entertainment.

But enough about their background, let’s get to the fun part: the concert.

First of all, buying tickets for this concert made me feel like I was on fighting grounds with resale ticket sellers as they were trying to sell tickets in the highest level of The Forum for $600 dollars a seat. Like most people, I decided to wait it out…but not without complaining, of course. By the following week, I was able to snatch the cheapest tickets of $110 per seat, to which I was grateful I memorized my debit card number by heart.

Fast forward to last week April 17th, it was time for me to get ready. Like most fans, I had owned a BlackPink t-shirt and pin to show that I was part of the fandom known as Blinks.

The Official BlackPink light-stick with people entering the venue

One thing that most people won’t tell you is that K-Pop concerts use something called a light-stick for fans to interact with their idols. Now, this particular light-stick for BlackPink had an interesting feature. Besides the fact that this light-stick looks like a toy hammer, guess what; it squeaks like one too!

Side view of the Official BlackPink light-stick

As I go up the flights of what I like to call “cardio central”, I get to my seat in the middle row of nosebleeds. Being able to have my seat near the aisle was by far the luckiest thing in the world because I didn’t have to worry about bothering people to get out of the row and I had space to dance the whole time.

Before they set the stage, there were screens showing their music videos and blasting the songs to the fans to prepare them for their idols appearance. Not going to lie, hearing a collective scream of fan girls & boys really made me feel like I wasn’t at their level.

After exiting the concert, fans discover this small gem

By the time the concert began, I was excited to see what song they would play to start the night and lucky for me, it was one of their more well-known songs called, “DDU-DU DDU-DU.”

The rush of adrenaline was one thing, but it honestly felt like I was dreaming.

I’ve practically waited for this moment for 10 years and to finally be attending the concert for a group I enjoyed so much…you have no idea how much shock I was in. The peak of my night was hearing the 4 girls talk to the fans about how excited they were to perform in Los Angeles for the first time. Even though they performed at Coachella that previous weekend, they reassured fans they would sing every song.

Each one of them performed a solo act on stage to show their talents & creativity in front of us. Jisoo covered Zedd’s “Clarity”, Jennie sang her solo release, “Solo”, and Rosé sang a variety of songs from YG Entertainment’s past artists Taeyang & Park Bom. Though, the moment we were waiting for was Lisa’s dance solos which she danced her viral dance cover of Jason Derulo’s “Swalla”.

Of course, BlackPink sang all the songs from their newly released album, Kill This Love. With songs like, “Don’t Know What to Do,” “Kick It,” “Hope Not,” and “Kill This Love,” these girls performed with such professionalism, elegance, and vibrancy. By the end of the night, BlackPink ended the In Your Area Los Angeles Tour stop with the song, “As If It’s Your Last.” I personally didn’t want this night to end as I was enjoying myself so much. Luckily, BlackPink surprised us for an encore of their songs, “DDU-DU DDU-DU” & “Stay.” Though it didn’t make it any easier to prepare myself to go back to San Diego afterwards.

After their encore, the group takes a photo to commemorate this moment in Los Angeles

So, what’s my opinion & what’s my life like now after this concert? Honestly, it’s changed my life in the extent of post-concert depression of almost a week now.

One last photo to save on my phone and in my mind forever

But in all honesty, I felt like I was welcomed and treat respectfully by everyone at the concert. I was worried that I would have encountered fans who were boisterous or ignorant, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, I felt like I belonged in a sea filled with pink BlackPink light-sticks. This concert was a reminder as to why I loved K-Pop for so long.

Now that I have returned back to reality, I have plans for my next concert…but let’s just hope I can afford it first.

Written by: Sofia Gomez

Why You Should Hear K-Pop at Least Once

Music is often viewed as an escape from the banality of life. Thankfully, there’s a growing genre everyone seems to be curious about: K-POP.

There’s so much interest within this genre, that fandoms for every possible K-POP group exist. One notable example can be seen in the popularity of the group, BTS. However, several people are asking the same question: what exactly makes K-POP popular, especially to American fans?

K-Pop is influenced by a variety genres and styles, such as Western Pop Music, rock, jazz, reggae, electronic dance, hip hop, rap, Latin, and more. K-POP is essentially a wide variety of music sung in the Korean language. This style of South Korea music originated in the 1940’s, athough the first official group to fit this category is the group, Seo Taiji and the Boys. The three member all-male group was active from 1992-1996, during which they experimented with various styles of music from the West (America). Just as Los Angeles is joined to hip-hop, Seoul is joined to K-POP, as most of the recording and music industries have their buildings within the city.

Fans can thank the internet & social media for increasing the popularity of K-POP to spread worldwide, especially with honorable mentions such as PSY with “Gangnam Style” and BTS “DNA”. Although they have become internationally famous through their songs, there are several other groups that I believe are worth knowing, since they have paved the way for PSY & BTS to become a worldwide sensation.

As an avid K-POP fan of 9 years, I wish is to share a few of my favorite artists that I believe would be great for beginners who are developing an interest in K-POP.

One of the first groups that deserves attention is Girls’ Generation (aka SNSD), a 9 member all-female group as determined by their name. With members Taeyeon, Seohyun, Sooyoung, Jessica, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Sunny, Yoona, and Yuri, each girl brought something specific to this group such as vocals, dance, visuals (beauty), and rap. Girls’ Generation began their career in 2007 as part of the second generation artists of K-POP. One of their most famous songs online is, “Gee” and “Run Devil Run.” While the group unfortunately does not retain all its original members, due in part to Jessica’s leave in 2014 and certain members’ contracts ending, there still remains 6 active members in this group who recently created the single, “Lil Touch”. I believe that Girls’ Generation paved the way for girl groups, since their empowering style is an obvious influence found in many following groups.

Another group whose popularity I’d like to acknowledge is Super Junior, due to their influence on the male groups in K-POP. Super Junior originally started as a 13 member male group, but debuted with 12 members. Through their active time as a group, there have been 5 different units created for Super Junior to allow members to do projects in smaller groups within the official 12 members. However, over time this group has decreased to 8 active members: Leeteuk, Heechul, Yesung, Shindong, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Siwon and Ryeowook. A few of their greatest hits include “Sorry Sorry”, “Mr. Simple”, and their most recent release, “One More Time (Otra Vez).” One reason I chose to highlight them is because their music style has begun to shift towards a Latin influence, as they’ve begun collaborating with artists such as Leslie Grace & Reik. With this new collaboration of Hispanic/Latino music and Korean Pop, there is definitely going to be a rise in popularity for this group in the near future.

Additionally, I’d like to shout out Hyuna, a solo artist who has demonstrated her dedication to her singing career despite being embattled in the middle of a controversial issue in Korea. She started her singing career as a trainee for the group Wonder Girls in the late 2000s, but went on to become an official member of the girl group, 4Minute, from 2009-2016. As the main rapper & dancer of the group, she rose to fame with her unique on-stage personality. She had released solo projects on the side such as songs like, “Change” and “Bubble Pop.” Once 4Minute disbanded in 2016, she continued to follow her solo career and releasing songs like “Lip & Hip” & “Babe”. She was also part of the trio Triple H with two members from the group, Pentagon, Hui & E’Dawn.

Unfortunately, just a month ago, her company, Cube Entertainment, decided to release a statement online about removing her due to her secret relationship with Triple H member E’Dawn because of a strict no dating policy. Though they retract their statement by stating it was not officially confirmed, she decided to leave the company with E’Dawn so that they can be free to date without a company destroying their feelings for each other. I have hope that she will continue to succeed without Cube Entertainment holding her back.

Now, of course, as a fan of 9 years, there is one group I hold in higher regard than any other. The girl group 2NE1 will forever remain my favorite for one sole reason: their love towards their fans.

2NE1 formed officially in 2009 and remained active until 2016. This girl group stands out above other 2nd generation artists as they were considered the “girl crush” type of style in their performances. The members include CL the main rapper, Bom Park as main vocals, Dara as the overall visuals of the group, and Minzy the main dancer. One of their most viewed songs on YouTube is “I Am The Best”, which will seem familiar as most commercials have featured this song for electronic products. During their active years, they had their own show called 2NE1 TV, where they allowed fans in to see their bond with each other behind the scenes from their busy lives as artists. 2NE1 also competed for MTV Iggy’s Best New Band in 2011 & won this title where they were able to perform their music for fans worldwide on MTV.

Unfortunately, when the member Bom Park’s name started appearing in the news for a controversial scandal involving medication and being prescribed them in a different country that doesn’t follow South Korea’s laws, the girl group fell into a hiatus for about a year and then appeared in the 2015 MAMA Awards in South Korea for what would be the last appearance as a group. A few months later, the girls officially announced their disbandment, and ended their time together with their heartbreaking song, “Goodbye”.

Since this group had been my favorite for years, it broke my heart…to the point where it almost felt like I was going to quit my interest in K-POP. But being part of this fan-base reminded me that, even though they are no longer together as a group, we should still support them in their solo endeavors. As of right now, CL is trying to debut as an artist in America, Bom has made a recent appearance in the Netflix show YG Future Strategy Office and has been teasing a possible comeback, Minzy is a solo artist who just graduated university, and Dara is back home in the Philippines doing talk shows & traveling the world.

As a K-POP fan, I can wholeheartedly tell you that the dedication you put towards the genre goes a long way into helping you connect with not only the artists, but the culture surrounding the genre.

With that said, there’s actually a lot more that goes into supporting an artist’s music. Of course, you an buy merchandise from trusted sites or shops, attend K-Con Los Angeles or New York for an ultimate K-POP experience, and create forums to connect with other fans around the world. Honestly, just being an international fan allows you to gain so much respect for the artist and their dedication to become a well-known sensation. There’s so much heart and soul that goes into the music and choreography alone, that fans are willing to make the artist has taken the time to take care of themselves. They will even ensure that an artist eaten or slept enough before seeing them live.

Overall, I recommend that everyone jump into the so-called “bandwagon” and show your support for the K-POP community. It’s amazing to see that K-Pop as a whole is finally being represented in the United States with plenty of support from American celebrities. One thing is for certain; K-Pop won’t be fading away anytime soon.

Written by: Sofia Gomez

Meet KCR Djs: Jini Shim and Nick Mararac with K-Pop and More

Kpop N More! Tune in Tuesdays 10-11am for an hour of Korean music and mini Korean language lessons to quench your curiosity beyond that so-called “Gangnam Style”.

Some artists that we feature on air:

Big Bang

BTS

Epik High

Hyukoh

IU

Lee Sun Hee

Seo Taiji

3rd Line Butterfly

and more

 

Some Korean language topics we talk about:

What does ‘물끄러미’ mean?

What are some idioms that contain the word ‘poop’?

Why can’t you say 당신 to say ‘you’ in real conversation while you hear it so often in song?

Yep. And some more.

 

About the DJs:

Jini Shim is a graduate student of Applied Linguistics at SDSU. Her research interests are in Korean language translation/interpretation process and 1.5 generationers’ second language acquisition. Aside from being a walking Korean culture ambassador, she enjoys attending film festivals, discovering the next tasty stout, and noshing on vegan desserts.

Nick Mararac is a student at SDSU. He studies linguistics, french and Korean. He received his BS from the US Naval Academy. He enjoys traveling around the world, analyzing language, reading reddit, and lifting weights. You can probably find him on Grindr, or at a North Park cafe.

Follow us on Twitter @jjini

or Facebook.com/teamsejong