[OPINION] MAMA 2021: The Hype Is Over

Are things really over now for MAMA?

For the past decade, South Korea has almost always been under the spotlight for its booming entertainment industry, putting the eyes of many on their creations. Whether it’s about music, food, drama series, films, or technology – name it and they have the best to show.

With the competition getting more intense as the production goes over the top in terms of quality, it is no doubt that South Korea is the home to a lot of annual awards shows, making sure that only the best of the best stays under that spotlight. Among these award-giving bodies is Mnet with their annual “Mnet Asian Music Awards” which is more popularly known as MAMA.

First held in 1999, the Mnet Asian Music Awards is one of the longest and most recognized awards shows by both local and international fans. The show has been a witness to the evolution of the Korean entertainment industry, especially in the music scene. Along with the popularity of K-POP overseas is the rise of MAMA, which has become one of the most anticipated awards shows by fans from all over the world. Over the years, MAMA has had a lot of changes and along with these, of course, are various controversies and anomalies. Despite having a lot being thrown their way, they stood their ground and continue its annual show up to this writing.

However, it is also undeniable that MAMA has lost a lot of its flavor as the years passed by. Other than giving away prestigious awards to various Korean and Asian celebrities, the show is also popular for presenting the most explosive performances and bringing the best artists to one stage altogether.

MAMA has made its mark in the K-POP history for organizing collaboration stages of groups we never thought would be able to perform together. Some of the most unforgettable collaborations were Sunmi x Taemin, StrayKids x ATEEZ x TheBoyz, BTS x GOT7, GFriend x SEVENTEEN, Lee Hyori x CL, and a whole lot more. This year was not like the others – there was no excitement at all.

Just right after Mnet released the set of nominees for the annual awards show, the fans immediately showed their disappointment for not having their favorite artists nominated, despite being active and topping the charts. The nominations were too narrow and focused on 4th generation idols when their senior groups should’ve at least been nominated as well. Not to mention how BTS is nominated in most categories, therefore lessening the excitement, because we all know they will win those awards.

Other than the list of nominations that put most fans in rage, the performances this year were not as impressive as before. The only stages that had the most impact and can be considered as something “explosive and full of effort” were those of ATEEZ, Stray Kids, NCT Dream, Wanna One, SMTM10, and Lee Hyori x Street Woman Fighter. The rest are just too plain that made prestigious awards show look like a regular music program like M!Countdown. Comeback stages are even more exciting than these special year-end performances.

No, it is not the current pandemic that is to blame. Regardless of whatever the situation is, Mnet and the artists’ agencies could live up to the standards and satisfy their clients a.k.a. the fans. With a wider audience and higher expectations, the production team of the show is expected to level up their performance, as well as the agencies who should put their artists in the best light.

As someone who has been anticipating the Mnet Asian Music Awards every year for more than 10 years already, it is so disappointing that it has come to this point where there is no hype anymore.

The worldwide popularity of BTS, Parasite, Squid Game, and more should have been taken advantage by Mnet. They could’ve innovated something more and turned it into something that’s better, or at least stood where they were, instead they stooped down and gave a low-quality show, which cannot be hidden regardless of how many popular stars they invite.

There is still a chance for MAMA and the agencies to redeem themselves, and that is if they still want to do it. MAMA 2022 is nowhere near impossible to happen, and with that assurance, can we expect those that have disappointed us this year to make it up next year?

Chen Rivor

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