First-round Grammy voting is currently underway, and running through October 10th. For our 2020 Grammy preview, we asked a series of likely contenders to reflect on their past experiences at the ceremony, look ahead to the future, and break down the albums and singles that could earn them a statue come February.
BTS are running out of space for their fans. Last October, the seven-member K-pop group played their first U.S. stadium show. Starting this past summer, they’ve exclusively played stadiums, selling out multi-night runs at 90,000-seat venues all over the world as fast as they can add them to their extended Love Yourself world tour.
This year, they became the first K-pop group to present an award at the Grammys, announcing H.E.R. as winner of Best R&B album. At the 2020 Grammys, they’re looking for a win, or at least a chance to perform. They have a shot. Their most recent EP, Map of the Soul: Persona, has topped charts in multiple countries, and the bouncy lead single — “Boy With Luv,” featuring Halsey — has earned more than 500 million streams. “Understand,” BTS member RM says of the Grammys. “We will be back on the stage.”
The seven members of BTS spoke with RS in August.
What was it like going to the Grammys for the first time? What’s your favorite memory?
RM: It’s the biggest night in the music industry all over the world, so we were so honored, and kind of nervous, and so excited to be there with such great artists. We want to be back. All of the members are true fans of H.E.R. — and it was really surprising and amazing to be able to give the award to our idol. When I called, “Congratulations, H.E.R.!” it was the best moment I ever had.
Jungkook, fans particularly loved your reaction to Dolly Parton. Did you really cry?
Jungkook: Yeah, it was an incredible day. I’m thankful that fans loved my reaction.
RM, how did your “Old Town Road” remix come about?
RM: In several interviews, when they asked “What’s your favorite song?” I was always like, “Old Town Road,” and I think Lil Nas X saw the interviews and maybe proposed the collaboration. So I just got called from my company, and I was really happy to jump on it. And he’s definitely written all the records, so congratulations to him on, like, 18 weeks [at Number One], and perhaps my “Seoul Town Road” with him might have been a little help, so I’m really grateful and happy for him. It was an honor.
You were the first K-pop group to present an award at the Grammys, and you got a nomination for Best Recording Package for Love Yourself: Tear. What firsts are you hoping for at the 2020 Grammys?
RM: We really had so many firsts this year. First group since the Beatles to achieve three Number One albums in less than a year, first time performing on SNL, as the musical guests. Maybe first performance at the 2020 Grammys, because you know, we could dream. … Thinking about it makes me really thrilled. We’ll just continue to be ourselves and just work hard on our music and performance.
What artists inspire you right now?
RM: OK, we’ll go member by member and answer …
Jungkook: Billie Eilish.
Jimin: Labrinth and Gavin James.
Suga: Lil Uzi Vert.
J-hope: I like Chance the Rapper.
V: Conan Gray.
RM: Nas and Lil Nas X.
Nas and Lil Nas?
Jin mentioned Halsey. What was it like working with her on “Boy With Luv”?
RM: We really were big fans of Halsey since “Closer” with Chainsmokers, and we heard that it was the first time for her to have official choreography for [a] music video, but she practiced really hard and we’re grateful for that. In addition, she actually wrote the introduction for our Time’s “100 Most Influential People” [entry]. We were so moved and touched by our friend’s words. I love you, Halsey.
What are your plans for touring if some members have to fulfill their South Korean military service obligation?
Jin: Nothing is set in stone, obviously, regarding military duty, but the most important thing would be [that] it’s our duty to serve and when we’re called we’ll serve in whatever capacity we can, and until that time we just perform as hard as we can and as much as we can.
Are you working on new music in the meantime? What can fans expect on your next album?
RM: Yes, we are. We are really working on our next album, but we’re still touring and trying to meet all our fans as much as we can all over the world. Things are really happening.
At the time of the 2019 Grammys, you named H.E.R., Travis Scott, and Lady Gaga as some dream collaborators. Any you’d like to add to the list?
RM: So, yeah, we have millions of dream artists that we want to collaborate with. Lil Nas X was one of them and we did it. J-Hope just mentioned Drake. I think Drake is really, like, a final destination. We met him at the Grammys so, yeah, Drake, please call our label if you have time.
Last year, you wore tuxedos to the Grammys. How will you top that look next time?
Suga: Well, we have to make it to the Grammys first for us to dazzle you with a new look.
J-Hope: If we can go, we’d like to wear something really fantastic.
What do you remember about your very first U.S. stadium show last October?
Suga: It was just one year ago when we performed at Citi Field, and actually a lot of that footage is in the new movie [Bring the Soul], and when we watched the movie we thought of it again — it was just a year ago but it feels like a long time ago. We remember the weather, the performance, what we did, and I think it reminded us that we want to continue performing in stadiums and keep doing what we’re doing.
RM: Actually, we made a big snapshot from Citi Field of us performing together. We printed it and framed it and it’s in front of our company’s building. That’s our main picture.
Tell me about your plans to perform in Saudi Arabia during the stadium extension of your tour. How did you make the decision to add a stop there?
Jin: We are about to meet our fans in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, for the first time ever, and BTS is always ready to meet fans around the world. This Saudi Arabia show is a part of that. We’ll just go there and try to put on the best performance that we possibly can.
What were some of your favorite collaborations recently?
RM: On our album Persona, “Make It Right” is by Ed Sheeran. He is also one of our idols and he called our label and said he wanted to give a song to us as a present. It turns out that it’s a really great song. And on our soundtrack for our [mobile] game, BTS World, we collaborated with Juice WRLD, Zara Larsson, Mura Masa, and Charli XCX. It was really fun to work with artists from different countries.
Tell me more about BTS World. What’s the object?
Jungkook: In the game, you become our manager, and you work through trying to make us superstars.
Jin: There’s also some never-before-seen footage of us acting. RM’s acting was especially noteworthy.
Jimin: We are in the game, so I was a little hesitant to actually play it, myself. I’m a little too shy to play my game with me in it.
What’s the secret, though? How do players make you stars?
RM: You have play constantly. Work hard, play hard.
Suga: If you really have affection for us, that will be what brings you success when you play the game.