BTS is bringing K-Pop to a gigantic new audience at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards.
The popular act will be the first ever from the Korean pop genre to be nominated for a BBMA, with a nod in the top social artist category. They have a good chance of pulling through a win — the boy band BTS (Bangtan Boys) has a huge following and dominated the fan-voting Social 50 chart all year — but have an even bigger goal in mind.
Their appearance will be a major moment for the K-Pop genre, the first major introduction to American audiences. Though BTS and other groups already have a dedicated following in America and across social media, the general public still knows little about the popular genre.
As Billboard reported, it has been more than a decade since American viewers got their first major glimpse of K-Pop.
“The first time K-pop made a major mark on American mainstream TV was in 2006, when MTV recognized the genre’s growing popularity and launched MTV K on satellite TV. Though the channel went defunct in 2007, MTV K was revamped in 2010 and became a major content purveyor for K-pop in the U.S. over the next few years, organizing several live performances by K-pop acts in New York City before it, too, went silent.”
Since then, a handful of other K-Pop acts have gained big followings in the United States, including the Wonder Girls who made a number of appearances in 2009 and a self-titled movie on Teen Nick, Billboard pointed out.
But the biggest breakthrough for Korean music came through an artist outside the K-Pop genre. In 2012, rapper Psy scored an international mega-hit with his song “Gangnam Style,” which opened up new audiences for Korean music genres.
In the weeks and days leading up to the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, fans of BTS were hyping up their appearance. Many shared pictures of the boy band on social media and called on others to cast their vote for the group.
— BTS_Slaying_BBMAs (@BTSforBBMAs017) May 21, 2017
Nunca se esqueçam armys!
TODAY WE FIGHT
ALWAYS WE WILL FIGHT
— SORRY BAE (@Vivih_Love_BTS) May 21, 2017
There is interest across the globe for K-Pop’s big moment at the Billboard Music Awards. The Philippines news station ABS-CBN named the BTS appearance as one of the top moments to watch in the show.
“K-pop has reached American soil and is getting recognized for the first time in the award show’s history,” the report told readers. “BTS is nominated in the ‘Top Social Artist’ category — a milestone, which comes just after the group’s sold-out, five-date arena tour in the US.
Billboard also gave American audiences an introduction to BTS in the weeks leading up to the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, including stories that named all seven members of the group.
The popularity of BTS has been growing recently as well, as demonstrated by their record-breaking run atop Billboard’s Social 50 rankings.
“The Social 50 — which launched on Dec. 11, 2010 — is powered by data tracked by music analytics company Next Big Sound and ranks the most popular artists on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Wikipedia, Instagram and Tumblr,” Billboard noted. “The chart’s methodology blends weekly additions of friends/fans/followers along with artist page views and engagement. The chart’s latest tracking week ended April 20.”
“Among groups, BTS has far and away the most weeks at No. 1. One Direction has the second-most weeks in the penthouse, with eight.”
That audience will likely get a lot bigger after Sunday’s award show, which will be broadcast to an audience of millions both in the United States and across the globe. A win in the top social artist category would help even more.
Those who want to check out BTS and their K-Pop prowess watch the Billboard Music Awards, which air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
[Featured Image by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]