There have been many milestones in K-Pop the past several years, but perhaps the most change is in K-Pop’s international recognition. Especially its significant impact in non-Asian countries in recent years. In the U.S. alone, BLACKPINK was the first K-Pop girl group to perform at Coachella, three out of five nominees for Favorite Social Artist at the AMAs were K-Pop groups, BTS‘ Grammy nomination, and much more.
After BTS’ Grammy nomination, many fans were curious if the Awards would open a K-Pop category. Currently, the only specifically foreign categories are for Latin music and 2 Global Music awards. No matter the country, an artist can be nominated for most awards; however, English-speaking singers are more common. If they were to open a K-Pop category, it would open the awards to many more of our favorite groups!
The Grammys occasionally add categories and often remove categories as time goes on. After all, they currently have 86 awards, and music is constantly changing. Last year, the Academy received 14 K-pop submissions, which made up just less than 1.5% of the submissions in the Pop genre.
The way I see it, modern K-pop really started in the ’90s. They took what was popular during that era and made it their own. What we’ve heard from the community is that they consider what they are creating to be pop music. Some argue that it’s pop music from Korea.
—Bill Freimuth (Chief Awards Officer at the Recording Academy)
Korean music has various genres, making it difficult to truly define Korean music from everything else. For example, a song can have pop elements as well as rock elements. They could be rap, and they could be R&B. “K-Pop” is often just a term used by everyone for “Korean music” in general, but officially, it’s much harder to define.
Bill Freimuth shared that the process of adding a category to the awards is very formal. Every year before March 1, the Academy receives proposals from the music community. The proposals include adding a category, rewording or defining a category, removing a category, and changing the award process. If the Awards and Nominations Committee passes a proposal, it’s shown to the board of trustees who discuss if they will make the change or not. Usually, a proposal needs to have around 100 submissions to be significantly considered. With only 14 submissions for K-Pop, it did not become a category.
We’d love to see more. We appreciate that the Grammys are so important to them.
Although the Grammys acknowledges and values Korean artists, there currently isn’t enough demand for its own category in the awards just yet. Currently, K-Pop still falls within the Pop and General categories, but hopefully, there will be even more nominated in the coming years. For the foreseeable future, it appears there will be no K-Pop category; however, as music continues to change, there is always hope.