For the last two years, fans have watched as the Billboard Music Awards—an award show dictated by the venerated music publication's iconic charts, themselves dictated by (ostensibly) American music tastes—as the trophy for Top Social Artist has been handed over to an act that's recorded hardly anything in English.
A fan-voted category that once belonged to Justin Bieber, who won six straight years in a row, now seems to be firmly in the clutches of a septet out of South Korea who have been on the forefront of a global music revolution. We're talking, of course, about BTS.
For two years now, the group—comprised of RM, V, Suga, Jimin, Jin, J-Hope and Jungkook—has beaten out the likes of the Biebs, Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez while standing as the lone K-Pop representative anywhere in the mix of nominees. But as the popularity of K-Pop across the globe has only grown exponentially, things are changing. And as the Hallyu, or Korean Wave, grows, the rising tide is beginning to, as they say, lift all boats.
Take this year's BBMAs, held Wednesday, May 1, for instance. For the first time ever, BTS isn't the only K-Pop group to have earned a Top Social Artist nomination. Though we'd be stunned if anyone was able to beat them—seriously the BTS Army is strong—it's the two other groups from their home country—EXO and GOT7—who we think might give them the best run for their money. (And as for the nominees from the world of Western music—Grande and Louis Tomlinson—well, it's certainly an honor to have just been nominated, we're guessing.)
Whatever happens with the Top Social Artist award on Wednesday, one thing is certain: BTS has helped usher in a global celebration of K-Pop, reminding everyone that music is a universal language that transcends all borders. So before you take a ride on the Hallyu, it's time to get acquainted with all the major players from BTS and beyond.