BTS Makes History as the First Asian Act to Win Artist of the Year at the 2021 American Music Awards

The international pop kings also took home Best Pop Song and Best Pop Duo or Group

BTS AMAs 2021
BTS, Photo courtesy of BIGHIT MUSIC

    In a night stacked with exciting wins at the AMAs, one thing was clear — the evening of November 21st belonged to BTS and their ARMY.

    The 2021 American Music Awards marked the first return to a stateside awards show for the seven members (RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook) since the pandemic, and the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles had the energy of a long-awaited homecoming. The fan chants and cheers for BTS, which could even be heard drowning out some moments of the live broadcast, indicated that a vast majority of the in-person audience was there to see a certain Korean group make their return.

    It’s been nearly two years since BTS has performed in front of a live audience at all, a fact that hasn’t managed to deter the group’s continuing ascent. Towards the start of the show, BTS joined Coldplay for an energetic performance of “My Universe,” the first time the two groups have been able to deliver the No. 1 song together in person.


    BTS Coldplay My Universe AMAs

    BTS and Coldplay, photo credit ABC

    Speaking of No. 1 songs, the win for Best Pop Song (for “Butter”) marked the first time BTS took home the trophy in the general pop category. It’s not uncommon for BTS to lock in trophies in K-pop categories with ease at American awards shows, but “Butter,” the irresistible bop that reigned supreme this summer, is an all-English song that happened to be recorded by a Korean group. The general pop category was the right place for the win.

    While clearly delighted by the historic win for Artist of the Year, the group members were nearly at a loss for words. “Seven boys from Korea, united by our love for music, met love and support from all around the world,” said RM, his group members tumbling over one another with excitement in the background. “We will never take this for granted.”

    “We believe that this is the beginning of our new chapter,” added Jungkook, a bit cryptically. BTS is set for a four-night run at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium beginning this Saturday, November 27th…but is a larger tour or album announcement on the horizon?

    There’s a full-circle energy to this award, as it was four years ago that the band performed “DNA” on that same stage at the 2017 American Music Awards, their very first live performance on television in the U.S. This set of wins feels both well-deserved and remarkably overdue for the artists currently working as the biggest act in the world by any metric.


    The broadcast closed out with an explosive performance of “Butter,” initially designed to include Megan Thee Stallion for the world premiere of the remixed track. (Megan Thee Stallion, another big winner herself last night, shared that she was unable to attend for personal reasons.)

    In a livestream following the show, the members of BTS sat around a table, drinking champagne and celebrating the historic win. “What will happen to BTS in the future?” Suga mused. “Now, I think that I can enjoy it, rather than being afraid.”

    All eyes are on the Grammy nominations tomorrow, but BTS sold out four nights at SoFi Stadium before general public onsale could even happen. Regardless of what happens at these awards shows, BTS has already won.


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