Music Awards Has Fresh Yet Disappointing Start
By Han Sang-hee
The Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) came to an end Saturday, but unfortunately, there were some shortcomings despite it being called Asia's best music award event.
The much-anticipated event was held at Jamsil Indoor Stadium, with young fans lined up near the entrances in hopes of catching a glimpse of some of their favorite K-pop singers.
Mnet Media scrapped its 10-year Mnet KM Music Festival (MKMF) in October, announcing that it was bringing an upgraded music event for not only fans in Korea, but throughout Asia as well. While the overall show was entertaining, it failed to truly captivate fans with its results and concept.
The red carpet entrance was a good way to kick off the six-hour event, with female singers donning stylish outfits, mostly in black, some in fur and others in leather.
MAMA offered eight main stages, or ``waves,'' each with special concepts and performances.
The first wave, ``Asian Fever,'' featured Drunken Tiger, who later won the Best Male Solo Artist. The award for the Best Female Solo Artist went to Baek Ji-young. The Best New Male Artist went to the Supreme Team, while 2NE1 won the Best New Female Artist, and two other awards eventually, including the Best Music Video and, one of the grand prizes, the Best Song of the Year for ``I Don't Care.''
The second wave, ``Girls x Girls,'' featured top girl groups the Brown Eyed Girls, which won the Best Female Group and Best House & Electronic awards, and KARA, which won Best Dance.
Seo In-gook, the winner of the Mnet's popular reality program, ``Superstar K,'' also performed in the third wave, ``Super Stardom,'' while the fourth wave, ``21st Street,'' featured the girl group 2NE1 performing in a short musical skit. The stage was decorated like a small village with shops and a two-story house, which was where Park Bom sang her solo number ``You And I.'' The musical was lively with the members singing ``I Don't Care,'' with a chorus line twist, but the signboards were embarrassing, misspelling a couple of words, including ``coffee.''
After former g.o.d. member Kim Tae-woo received the Best Ballad/R&B award, the stage made way for the Best Asian Star, TVXQ. The first official appearance of the three members Xiah, Micky and Hero since the dispute with their agency started surprised fans for two reasons: one was because the group's agency SM Entertainment boycotted the event citing flaws in the judging system and the second was because they appeared without the other two members. The three members are currently engaged in a legal dispute with SM regarding their contracts and cosmetic business.
``We are very happy as the award was given by our Asian fans. For our fans, and also our two friends who may be watching this somewhere, we would like to say that we love you,'' Hero said.
The fifth wave ``Free to the Women'' brought an exciting lineup of female rappers, while the sixth wave ``World of Temptation'' captivated fans and singers with a vampire-inspired stage featuring sexy singer Ivy and 2PM's Nichkhun.
Park Jin-young, the creator of the Wonder Girls, also made a special appearance to receive the Best Asian Composer award.
Big Bang members Tae-yang and G-Dragon rocked the seventh wave, ``Korean Dream,'' dressed in black and white with impressive dance moves. The last wave was a tribute to veteran singer Sim Soo-bong, who was the first singer to make it to the MAMA Hall of Fame. Singers Kim Tae-woo, Epik High and Seo In-young sang some of Sim's best songs, while all the singers came on stage to congratulate the singer.
Along with 2NE1's win for Song of the Year, the other two grand prizes went to G-Dragon for Album of the Year and 2PM for Artist of the Year.
``Thank you, Jae-beom. I know you're watching. We love you,'' Chan-sung said in tears, referring to the group's leader who left the group after being criticized for his comments he made of Korea when he was a trainee. Fans also expressed their excitement and sorrow by screaming out Jae-beom and the group's name.
The event ended with Tiger JK from Drunken Tiger promising a bigger event next year and, indeed, MAMA needs improvements to live up to expectations.
The event did surprise fans with congratulatory messages from famous singers, including Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas and even Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls.
However, despite the title, there was nothing Asian about MAMA. No Asian singers other than ones from Korea were nominated in even one of the main 19 categories, nor were there any foreign artists performing on the local stage, except for two short performances by Asian Recommended winners Bang Bang Tang from China, which was carried out in Chinese with no subtitles, and Japanese group AKB 48 in Japan.
Along with frequent camera mistakes, the event did not include some of the most popular groups, including Girls' Generation and Super Junior, while famous trot singers such as Jang Yoon-jeong and Park Hyun-bin also boycotted the event, questioning the fairness in selecting candidates for the newly established Best Trot award.
The launch of the new event this year seemed like a teaser trailer, full of catchy acts and sequences, minus some key players and reasonable ratings. According to Mnet Media, MAMA will be held in different regions in Asia next year. Perhaps this will help the event live up to expectations as Asia's best music awards, but for now, it has a long way to go.