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American Music Awards – BTS, first Asian band to win Artists of the Year

Tim Newton




South Korean band BTS had a huge night at the American Music Awards. They not only won the highly coveted ‘Artist of the Year’, they also picked up the Best pop song of the year and Best duo or group. Significantly, BTS are the first Asian musicians to pick up the main award in an otherwise white-washed US pop industry.

Accepting the Artist of the Year award, their third visit to the podium on the night, 27 year old leader RM, and the only member who speaks fluent English, said that “this whole thing is a miracle”.

“Seriously, we will never take this for granted. Four years ago, we had given this first-time-ever TV live performance at this AMAs stage for ‘DNA’ (the song has recorded over 1.3 billion views on YouTube since its debut). We were so excited and nervous at the time”.

(That AMA performance was BTS’s first live performance on US TV).

“It’s been a long and amazing ride since then, but nobody could have ever bet on the odds of us standing here receiving this award.”

The band’s Best Pop song award went to their single “Butter” which spent 10 weeks this year at the #1 spot on the Billboard Singles Chart, another breakthrough achievement by the band of 7 members who have steadily broken through music’s bamboo curtain since they debuted in 2013.

Having struggled their way up the gruelling K-Pop (Korean pop music) ladder, BTS always had their eye on winning an AMA or, heaven-forbid, a Grammy (they were nominated for a 2021 Grammy but didn’t win their category for Best Song “Dynamite”.)

They kept busy during Covid doing online concerts and crafting 2 English-language pop bops – “Dynamite” and “Butter”. These have been the only English-language songs the band have recorded, besides a Steve Aioki collab “Waste it on me”. In the past month they’ve also released a collaboration with Coldplay “My Universe”, which is in Korean and English.

Bottomline, they developed their enormous global popularity on the back of Korean-language lyrics!

At their acceptance speech all 7 had a moment on the microphone, all except RM in rehearsed English or in their native Korean language. RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook were humble and excited at their major US breakthrough.

“Seven boys from Korea, united by a love for music, met the love and support from all the ARMY all over the world.”

That ‘Army’ is the band’s huge fan base around the world, probably the largest fandom of any band as BTS has weaponised social media over the past 8 years to reach audiences in a way that’s been impossible in the days before social media.

American Music Awards - BTS, first Asian band to win Artists of the Year | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: BTS perform their collaboration with Coldplay, “My Universe” at the 2021 AMA

BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan) have shared thousands of candid moments, 2 hugely popular TV series, and a library of dance practice clips, or just goofing around, which has endeared them to a global fan base.

In other AMA moments, Taylor Swift broke her own record when she won favourite female pop artist for the 7th time and topped her previous record for most AMA wins of all time. She also won for best pop album “Evermore” during the show and now has a total of 34 AMA trophies.

Olivia Rodrigo, who had 7 AMA nominations on the night, won New artist of the year.

Winning 3 awards each were Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion (who also did a collaboration withe BTS this year with a version of “Butter”). Ed Sheeran won Favourite male pop artist while Drake and Megan Thee Stallion won Favourite male and female hip-hop artists.

American Music Awards nominees are selected based on fan interactions with their favourite music and artists, including streaming, album sales, song sales, radio airplay, social engagement) that are tracked by Billboard and its data partner MRC Data.

Complete list of 2021 American Music Award nominees and winners…

New Artist of the Year

Winner: Olivia Rodrigo



Masked Wolf


Artist of the Year

Winner: BTS

Ariana Grande


Taylor Swift

Olivia Rodrigo

The Weeknd

Collaboration of the year

“Mood” – 24kGoldn ft. iann dior

“DÁKITI” – Bad Bunny & Jhay Cortez

“Go Crazy” – Chris Brown & Young Thug

Winner: “Kiss Me More” – Doja Cat ft. SZA

“Peaches” – Justin Bieber ft. Daniel Caesar & Giveon

Favourite trending song

“Buss It” – Erica Banks

“Beggin’” – Måneskin

Winner: “Body” – Megan Thee Stallion

“drivers license” – Olivia Rodrigo

“Adderall (Corvette Corvette)” – Popp Hunna

Favourite music video

“Leave The Door Open” – Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak)

“Up” – Cardi B

Winner: “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” – Lil Nas X

“drivers license” – Olivia Rodrigo

“Save Your Tears” – The Weeknd

Favourite male pop artist


Winner: Ed Sheeran

Justin Bieber

Lil Nas X

The Weeknd

Favourite female pop artist

Ariana Grande

Doja Cat

Dua Lipa

Olivia Rodrigo

Winner: Taylor Swift

Favourite pop duo or group


Winner: BTS

Glass Animals

Maroon 5

Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak)

Favourite pop album

“positions” – Ariana Grande

“Future Nostalgia” – Dua Lipa

“sour” – Olivia Rodrigo

Winner: “evermore” – Taylor Swift

“F— LOVE” – The Kid LAROI

Favourite pop song

Winner: “Butter” – BTS

“Kiss Me More” – Doja Cat ft. SZA

“Levitating” – Dua Lipa

“drivers license” – Olivia Rodrigo

“Save Your Tears (Remix)” – The Weeknd & Ariana Grande

Favourite male country artist

Chris Stapleton

Jason Aldean

Winner: Luke Bryan

Luke Combs

Morgan Wallen

Favourite female country artist

Winner: Carrie Underwood

Gabby Barrett

Kacey Musgraves

Maren Morris

Miranda Lambert

Favourite country duo or group

Winner: Dan + Shay

Florida Georgia Line

Lady A

Old Dominion

Zac Brown Band

Favourite country album

“Starting Over” – Chris Stapleton

Winner: “Goldmine” – Gabby Barrett

“Hey World” – Lee Brice

“Born Here Live Here Die Here” – Luke Bryan

“Dangerous: The Double Album” – Morgan Wallen

Favourite country song

“Starting Over” – Chris Stapleton

“Famous Friends” – Chris Young & Kane Brown

Winner: “The Good Ones” – Gabby Barrett

“Forever After All” – Luke Combs

“Fancy Like” – Walker Hayes

Delivery: Varies

Favourite male hip-hop artist

Winner: Drake

Lil Baby

Moneybagg Yo

Polo G

Pop Smoke

Favourite female hip-hop artist

Cardi B

Coi Leray

Erica Banks

Winner: Megan Thee Stallion


Favourite hip-hop album

“Certified Lover Boy” – Drake

“Legends Never Die” – Juice WRLD

Winner: “Good News” – Megan Thee Stallion

“Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon” – Pop Smoke

“SoulFly” – Rod Wave

Favourite hip-hop song

Winner: “Up” – Cardi B

“Lemonade” – Internet Money ft. Gunna, Don Toliver & NAV

“Calling My Phone” – Lil Tjay ft. 6LACK

“RAPSTAR” – Polo G

“What You Know Bout Love” – Pop Smoke

Favourite male R&B artist

Chris Brown



Winner: The Weeknd


Favourite female R&B artist

Winner: Doja Cat


Jazmine Sullivan

Jhené Aiko


Favourite R&B Album

Winner: “Planet Her” – Doja Cat

“When It’s All Said And Done… Take Time” – Giveon

“Back of My Mind” – H.E.R.

“Heaux Tales” – Jazmine Sullivan

“Missunderstood” – Queen Naija

Favourite R&B song

“Leave The Door Open” – Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak)

“Go Crazy” – Chris Brown & Young Thug

“Heartbreak Anniversary” – Giveon

“Damage” – H.E.R.

“Pick Up Your Feelings” – Jazmine Sullivan

Favourite male Latin artist

Winner: Bad Bunny

J Balvín



Rauw Alejandro

Favourite female Latin artist

Becky G

Kali Uchis

Karol G

Natti Natasha


Favourite Latin duo or group

Winner: Banda MS de Sergio Lizárraga

Calibre 50

Eslabon Armado

La Arrolladora Banda El Limón De René Camacho

Los Dos Carnales

Favourite Latin album

Winner: “EL ÚLTIMO TOUR DEL MUNDO” – Bad Bunny

“Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)” – Kali Uchis

“KG0516” – Karol G

“Papi Juancho” – Maluma

“Afrodisíaco” – Rauw Alejandro

Favourite Latin song

“Dákiti” – Bad Bunny & Jhay Cortez

“LA NOCHE DE ANOCHE” – Bad Bunny x Rosalía

“Pepas” – Farruko

“telepatía” – Kali Uchis

“Hawái (Remix)” – Maluma & The Weeknd

Favourite rock artist


All Time Low

Foo Fighters

Glass Animals

Winner: Machine Gun Kelly

Favourite inspirational artist


Winner: Carrie Underwood

Elevation Worship

Lauren Daigle

Zach Williams

Favourite gospel artist

Winner: Kanye West

Kirk Franklin

Koryn Hawthorne

Maverick City Music

Tasha Cobbs Leonard

Favourite dance/electronic artist

David Guetta


Winner: Marshmello

Dj Regard


American Music Awards - BTS, first Asian band to win Artists of the Year | News by Thaiger


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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 41 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program (public radio Australia), presented over 11,000 radio news bulletins, 3,900 in Thailand alone, hosted 950 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. He also reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand. As founder of The Thaiger in 2016, Tim is the current CEO for company, based in Bangkok.

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