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BTS lights up Grammys with first in-person showcase

Nominated for best pop duo or group performance, BTS leaves empty-handed two years in a row

K-pop boy group BTS performs “Butter” at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Sunday. (AP-Yonhap)
K-pop boy group BTS performs “Butter” at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Sunday. (AP-Yonhap)
BTS brightened up the Grammy Awards with its megahit “Butter,” marking the K-pop phenomenon’s first live stand-alone performance on music’s biggest night.

The septet -- Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook -- was the fourth act to go onstage at the awards, held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday.

BTS transformed themselves into undercover agents for a performance that began with Jin operating computers straight out of a spy movie, while Jungkook descended on a pole from the ceiling and V produced a card from behind Olivia Rodrigo’s head.

When Jungkook hit a button, “Butter” began booming around the arena and the bandmates danced from the tables to the stage. Highlights of the performance included jumping over lasers, pulling off their jackets and strumming away at them like guitars while dancing into the audience.

Jin, however, sang while sitting due to an injury he sustained last month.

It is the third year running that the group has performed at the Grammys. The seven-piece act had a chance to present its first stand-alone performance last year, but it had to be prerecorded in Seoul due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

BTS attended this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony as official performers and nominees in the best pop duo or group performance category for its megahit “Butter.” But the group left the ceremony empty-handed for a second year.

Doja Cat and SZA won the award for “Kiss Me More,” while the all-English “Butter” was nominated alongside songs by big-name performers -- Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” Justin Bieber and Benny Blanco’s “Lonely” and Coldplay’s “Higher Power.”

“Butter,” released in May last year, is a vibrant summer song that the group hoped would give off good energy during the global COVID-19 pandemic. It stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 10 nonconsecutive weeks following its release.

K-pop boy group BTS poses for photos during a red-carpet event of the 64th Annual Grammy Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday. (AFP-Yonhap)
K-pop boy group BTS poses for photos during a red-carpet event of the 64th Annual Grammy Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday. (AFP-Yonhap)
Expectations were high among fans for BTS to write a new chapter in history as the first K-pop act to win a Grammy.

If the boy band had won, it would have made them the first Asian artists to bag all three major US music awards, including the American Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards.

BTS won three awards, including the top honor of artists of the year, at the American Music Awards in November last year, while bagging four awards, including for top-selling song for “Dynamite,” at the Billboard Music Awards held in May earlier that year.

The K-pop group expressed the desire to clinch a Grammy during an interview on the red carpet before the awards ceremony.

“It’s an award voted by peers in the music industry, so that means even so much,” RM said when asked about the meaning of winning a Grammy. “These two years were so exhausting and devastating, and if we get the Grammys, you know, it all pays back and pays off.”

After the K-pop stars failed to win, the group’s fans, collectively known as Army, took to social media to criticize the Grammys, believing the group should have been the obvious winner this year.

Angry fans around the world made the hashtag #Scammys trend on Twitter, calling out the awards show for being unfair. It was not the first time the fans got the hashtag trending on the social media platform: They also expressed anger after BTS did not receive the award last year.

“Disappointed, but not surprised. Scammys don’t deserve BTS,” “It’s hard having to see them losing something they deserved to win #scammys #nohatetotheartists” and “The Grammys lost BTS... Oh wait, I meant the #ScammyGrammys. Don’t worry BTS, you’re #1 in our hearts,” were a few of the posts.

After the ceremony, BTS took to Naver’s streaming platform V Live to share feelings and moments with the fans. The septet said it had been a “valuable experience.”

“We tried once again (to win a Grammy), thanks to Army. We, unfortunately, couldn’t receive a prize but it was very meaningful to be a part,” Jimin said during the livestream. “We thought we could repay you if we received the award, so I was a little disappointed.”

RM also spoke about his feelings. “To be honest, we’re not in a mood,” he said. “But we’ll be in a good mood from tomorrow.”

Suga cheered up his bandmates, saying, “This isn‘t something to be sad about. What we’ve done is already amazing.”

“I was motivated by watching many good performances there,” added V.

Meanwhile, BTS is set to hold live concerts at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday, as well as April 15 and 16.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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