K-weekly: End-of-year awards season

Graphic by Camilla Samuel

As fall finally changes into winter and the weather starts to drop (unless you live in New England, unfortunately), the end-of-year Asian award shows start to announce their nominees. One of the biggest shows, the Mnet Asian Music Awards, has been eagerly anticipated by fans around the world. This year’s MAMA theme is “K-POP World Citizenship.” 

MAMA, like many Western shows, combines fan voting and judges panels in order to select the year’s winners. However, MAMA airs for much longer than a typical Western award show.

While this may seem long and tedious for the typical viewer, award shows like MAMA are definitely worth the wait, as they are full of promotional trailers, gigantic performances and teasers for artists’ future projects. While typical American award shows, such as this year’s American Music Awards, begin announcing winners online before the actual ceremony begins, MAMA televises everything, showcasing performances, interviews and the music industry throughout the day. Some of K-pop’s most iconic performances have come from these ceremonies, such as BTS’ 2019 Melon Music Awards performance of their hit songs “Intro: Persona” (2019), “Boy In Luv” (2014), “Boy With Luv” (2019), “Mikrokosmos” (2019) and “Dionysus” (2019). 

This year’s MAMA saw performances by J-Hope, the legend Tiger JK and the rookie group Tempest. One of the special collaboration stages was a roundup of fourth-generation girl groups — NewJeans, IVE, Kep1er, LE SSERAFIM and NMIXX — who have dominated the industry this past year. 

Collaborations like these not only promote the individual groups to a larger audience but also solidify the world of K-pop as a community. Performances such as ENHYPEN and TXT’s “Legend of K-POP” at the 2021 KBS Song Festival nod to the history of K-pop music and show respect to the older generations of artists who helped pave the way by sharing their music.

And of course, these would not be award shows without actual awards. MAMA specifically has several categories for entry, with the most well-known being the four grand prizes: Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Worldwide Icon of the Year. Other categories include Best Music Video, Best Dance Performance and Favorite New Artist.

Currently, BTS leads the charge among K-pop groups with nearly 50 wins from MAMA alone, but many rookie groups won big on show night this year. NewJeans’ well-received debut in August and (G)I-dle’s recent releases put them both at advantage to take home a few awards this year.

While it may not seem appealing to an American to wake up in the early hours of the morning and tune in to different streaming sites for an entire day, watching the culmination of these artists’ work and passion is definitely worthwhile — whether you are a K-pop lover or not!

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