For the last four years, fans have watched as the Billboard Music Awards—an award show dictated by the venerated music publication's iconic charts, and those dictated by (ostensibly) American music tastes—as has handed the trophy for Top Social Artist over to an act that's recorded hardly anything in English.
A fan-voted category that once belonged to Justin Bieber, who won six 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 their first two years, the group—comprised of RM, V, Suga, Jimin, Jin, J-Hope and Jungkook—had 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 have changed. And as the Hallyu—or Korean Wave—grows, the rising tide is beginning to, as the saying goes, lift all boats.
Beginning at the 2019 ceremony, BTS ceded their title as the lone K-pop group to have earned a Top Social Artist nomination. Though no one has been able to beat them yet—seriously, the BTS Army is strong—they've faced stiff competition in the category by fellow South Korean acts EXO and GOT7 this year, as well as last. (And as for the nominees from the world of Western music—Grande and Billie Eilish—well, it's certainly an honor to have just been nominated.)
Outside of the microcosm that is the BBMAs, however, one thing is clear: BTS has helped usher in a global celebration of K-pop, reminding everyone that music is a universal language that transcends all borders. In just the month of October alone, fans of the genre have had projects from five acts to look forward to, including the highly-anticipated debut album from BLACKPINK on Oct. 2, with the latest from BTS expected at the end of November.
In other words, there's never been a better time to take a ride on the Hallyu. If you're late to the party, don't worry. Allow us to get you acquainted with all the major players from BTS and beyond.
(Originally published on April 29, 2019 at 1:25 p.m. PT.)