If artists who sometimes contribute to their music is the low standard for groundbreaking K-pop, then sure, BTS is at the top.
The BTS Army is rejoicing, as their boy kings are nominated for their first Billboard Music Award for Top Duo/Group.
While the K-pop band has taken home the award for Top Social Artist for the past two years (and they've just received their third nomination), 2019 marks the first time they've been recognized in a larger category. The boys will compete against more mainstream acts for the honor of best band, with fellow nominees including Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, Panic at the Disco, and Dan + Shay.
Other artists highlighted this year are Cardi B (leading this year's honorees with 21 nominations in 18 categories), Drake (nominated for 17 awards, including Top Artist, Top Rap Album, and Top Rap Song for "In My Feelings"), and Post Malone (tying with Drake, including nominations for Top Artist and Top Rap Song for "Better Now").
But reactions from BTS fans dominated discussions of the Billboard Awards on social media. Twitter exploded with emoji-laden declarations of love, as well as deep dives into the history of the Top Duo/Group award to emphasize that "BTS PAVED THE WAY." As a trending topic, the band's success has K-pop fans hopeful that the genre will continue to integrate into American mainstream music.
While most K-pop bands are eerily robotic products of major music labels and have little to no artistic input in the music they perform, the seven members of BTS do have some writing and production credits to their names. If artists who actually contribute to their music is the low standard for groundbreaking K-pop bands, then yes, RM, Jin, Jimin, Suga, J-Hope, V, and Jungkook have paved the way in K-pop, but that doesn't legitimize its future as a mainstream genre.
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Protest music aside, there is a slew of good underground music out today
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Detroit-based emcee Tee Grizzley collaborated with Queen Naija and the Detroit Youth Choir to craft a melodic ballad that attempts to open up a dialogue with police. Meanwhile, alt-Jazz pioneer Terrace Martin took a different approach in his collaboration with Denzel Curry, Daylyt, G Perico, and Kamasi Washington, with "Pigs Feet" being more of an angry f*ck you than an attempt at communication.