Celebrating its 10th yr, the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) kicked off on Dec. 10 in Korea, headed to Japan on Dec. 12, and led to Hong Kong on Dec. 14. Each evening was filled with performances from Asian artists, primarily Ok-pop stars, and practically 70 awards had been doled out.
BTS and TWICE got here out on high with 9 and 5 awards respectively, however whereas performances and awards took middle stage, MAMA 2018 was additionally shone mild on the lofty targets of Mnet, and dad or mum firm CJENM, to be a trendsetting drive not solely in Ok-pop however throughout music markets all through Asia.
South Korean tv channel Mnet, owned and operated by CJENM, launched MAMA in 2009 as the newest iteration of their annual award present, first launched as a music video award present in 1999. While the inaugural MAMA was held in South Korea, MAMA occasions have been held in a wide range of international locations all through Asia yearly since, and up to date years have seen it develop to function three days of occasions. This yr is the primary time it's returned to Seoul for a present since its 2009 begin.
Since 2013, Kim Hyun Soo has spearheaded MAMA as the pinnacle of CJENM’s conference biz division. “We wished to distinguish ourselves from different Korean award exhibits by pursuing the Asian market, and making it extra globalized by bringing in Western artists as nicely," Kim says. In the previous, Pet Shop Boys, Timbaland, John Legend, and extra have carried out, and this yr noticed MAMA launch the Janet Jackson Inspiration award, which Jackson herself acquired. “We need to function a cultural enterprise platform," Kim provides. Along with artists awards -- main classes centered on Korea and different ones geared toward completely different areas all through Asia -- MAMA created knowledgeable class in 2015 to acknowledge behind the scenes expertise.
This yr’s MAMA was bisected into three elements, with the premiere held in Seoul, a "Fans' Choice" occasion held close to Tokyo, and the principle awards being handed out in Hong Kong. While it could appear extreme, these weren’t simply rehashed occasions with the identical artists performing for various worldwide audiences however every had their very own distinct focus.
In Seoul, the evening was oriented a couple of new technology of Ok-pop acts, with the entire Korean performers of the evening solely starting their careers this yr or final yr. In comparability, the Japan occasion featured a few of this yr’s most outstanding artists -- BTS, TWICE, Mamamoo, Monsta X, and Nu’Est W with breakout rookies IZ*ONE, Wanna One, and Stray Kids -- and opened the evening with a collection of covers as artists walked the trail of Ok-pop historical past, paying homage to the likes of BIGBANG, Girls’ Generation, and others who rose to prominence within the late 2000s and early 2010s.
Meanwhile, the principle present in Hong Kong largely centered on the present state of the Korean music trade, starting with opening performances from Korean hip-hop icons Tiger JK, who simply launched his last Drunken Tiger album, Yoonmirae with a member of Seventeen and rising pop diva Chung Ha, and by having a wide selection of performers from throughout the Ok-pop and Korean hip-hop scenes.
Throughout the three occasions, worldwide artists additionally carried out, together with Dean Ting of China, Hiragana Keyakizaka46 and Bullet Train of Japan, Marion Jola from Indonesia, Vietnam’s Orange, The Toys from Thailand, and Mandopop icon JJ Lin.
Run by a tv station related to one of many largest South Korean conglomerates (CJENM is a subsidiary of CJ Group, itself an outgrowth of Samsung within the 1990s), at its essence, MAMA 2018 is as a lot a tv occasion as it's an awards present. This yr, its connection to Mnet was extra obvious than ever, because it predominantly featured Korean artists who had appeared on Mnet exhibits in recent times, such because the Produce and Show Me The Money competitors exhibits. At least six acts -- TWICE, Monsta X, Wanna One, IZ*ONE, Stray Kids, and fromis_9 -- had been fashioned via competitors exhibits on the channel. Artists from two of South Korea’s “Big three” Ok-pop labels, YG and SM Entertainment, had been notably absent, although songs from artists signed to the businesses had been heard throughout performances and acts from every firm had been included within the 10 acts awarded worldwide followers' alternative awards.
“The approach we nominate artists and celebrities is thru album gross sales, digital gross sales,” Kim says. “We have Asian trade professionals who additionally vote, and on-line voting. Starting this yr, we added world music video counts as nicely. To nominate as pretty as doable we additionally partnered with main charts in Asia.”
Along with inside voting, MAMA opens up sure classes to followers, and the 2017 MAMA occasion needed to shut down voting briefly to handle fraud. At the time, a rep advised Billboard that it was to handle votes created by individuals utilizing computerized bots or different unlawful applications to spice up votes. According to Kim, “We see voting as one thing that could be a large determination issue behind our winners, and there’s really a separate division inside the firm concerning the voting. They monitor the votes from everywhere in the world in real-time to attempt to assuage any considerations of abuse, filtering out uncommon actions.”
Even although it serves as a year-end award present, the principle component of MAMA is the efficiency facet. This yr noticed stand-out units, particularly in Japan, the place Mamamoo dominated the Saitama Super Arena’s stage with particular person performances begun by Solar pole dancing, and the evening ended with an intensely theatrical rendition of BTS' “Fake Love” that includes outsized, puppeteering fingers, adopted by an uproarious efficiency of “Anpanman,” which noticed RM flip into an astronaut.
CJENM expects MAMA to proceed rising its scale sooner or later, and so they have seen curiosity within the occasion develop over the last decade of its existence. According to Kim, throughout MAMA’s early days Ok-pop wasn’t but on a worldwide scale, however compared these days artists from all through Asia and around the globe need to take part in MAMA. “Ten years in the past, to experiment bringing Ok-pop to the worldwide viewers was unthinkable,” he says. “Now, once we ask artists to carry out, they eagerly agree.”
Kim suggests Ok-pop’s worldwide recognition and the curiosity from followers is why MAMA, and different Ok-pop oriented occasions, have turn into better-received all through Asia and the remainder of the world. Growing out of MAMA, and different CJENM occasions corresponding to KCON, Kim provides that the corporate has been reached out to by worldwide occasion organizers and corporations hoping to work with them sooner or later to convey Ok-pop artists to their markets. And it's all due to how sizable, and interactive, Ok-pop's viewers is. “Ok-pop followers now do rather a lot on their very own, whether or not it’s speaking about what’s new in Ok-pop or the best way to transfer the fandoms in their very own course. Right now, followers are much more concerned and so they’re the rationale for the expansion," Kim says.