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BTS appear at the 2021 Grammy Awards in a video link from South Korea. Credit: RIAA

Grammy Awards 2021: fans angry as BTS, Doja Cat and Chloe x Halle miss out

  • BTS lose out to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande for best performance; black singer Doja Cat and duo Chloe x Halle lose in three categories they were nominated in
  • The Scammys hashtag trends as fans vent their anger on social media, and one winner, Billie Eilish, says her award should have gone to another performer
Tamar Hermanin United States

The Grammy Awards faced a backlash from fans after world-conquering K-pop outfit BTS were snubbed at the 63rd music industry awards ceremony, along with black American artists including sister duo Chloe x Halle and solo singer Doja Cat.

Before the event started airing in the United States on Sunday, the hashtag “Scammys” trended across Twitter as fans expressed anger at the acts being overlooked during the awards presented ahead of the live broadcast of music’s biggest night of the year.

Many observers pointed to the Grammys’ long-running failure to recognise non-white talent as the reason the artists were overlooked despite stand-out releases and consistently promoting their music during the past year, despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga’s Rain On Me beat out BTS track Dynamite for best pop duo/group performance, while both Chloe x Halle and Doja Cat lost in the three categories in which they were both nominated.

BTS and Chloe x Halle are not only fan favourites, but also respected in the industry – renowned for their performances, media appearances and hits that transcend genres and linguistic boundaries. The Grammys have regularly touted seven-member BTS on social media and featured them in various performances that showcase their distinct artistic flair.

When BTS were snubbed, many fans questioned the worth of an institution that valued the K-pop stars enough to feature them among the night’s final performers, but does not recognise their talent.

The singer-songwriter sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey have spent much of the pandemic staging outstanding performances, including ones from their backyard in the US, but got no recognition.

And many fans were upset that Doja Cat’s hit Say So lost out in the record of the year category to Billie Eilish’s Everything I Wanted, after she had earlier missed out on the awards for best pop solo performance and best new artist earlier in the night.

The Recording Academy has for years acknowledged that it is grappling with a bias towards white artists and a failure to recognise black artists, and is trying to be become more inclusive, but the familiar snubs returned in 2021: Chloe x Halle were notably nominated in the R&B categories and none of the general ones, where rising black talent is typically ignored. 

However, over the years many white artists who have won Grammys have acknowledged the talent of black artists – and the 63rd Grammys ended with Billie Eilish saying her award for record of the year award should have gone to rapper Megan Thee Stallion.

Meanwhile, The Weeknd, who was behind some of the biggest hits of 2020, opted out of the Grammys and has said he will no longer participate in the awards ceremony. He is one of several black artists who have decided to boycott the Grammys in recent years because the institution has failed to fix its acknowledged issues. 

Similarly, BTS’ loss – which was expected considering that boy band rarely get acknowledged at the Grammys – comes as anti-Asian sentiment grows in the West over the spread of the coronavirus that first emerged in China. 

Both Chloe x Halle and BTS accepted their losses graciously, sharing their thoughts on social media and, in BTS’ case, holding a live stream after the event which attracted seven million fans.

To many on the internet, it was clear that, with or without a trophy, these acts were the true winners when it came to the love and support of their listeners.