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Hannah’s K-Pop Corner: Award Shows

Hi friends! The K-Pop award show season has officially begun. For those of you who have never experienced the K-Pop award show season, well, I wish you good luck. For those of you who have already gone through a K-Pop award show, get ready for another blood bath.

There are a few main K-Pop award shows: Gaon Chart Music Awards, Soribada Best K-Music Awards, Golden Disk Awards (GDAs), Korean Music Awards, MBC Plus x Genie Music Awards, Seoul Music Awards (SMAs), Melon Music Awards (MMAs), and the biggest of them all the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA).

Voting for K-Pop award shows can be very confusing. I’m still confused by many of the shows and I vote for all of them every year. Basically, in the majority of the K-Pop award shows all of the categories are decided by voting, judges, record sales and music sales. Additionally, some categories are also decided by music video views and social media voting. The Golden Disk Awards are generally considered the least-biased show by many fans because it is based completely on chart data, and MAMA is considered the most biased or at least the most controversial by many because it is very obviously rigged.

One of the most important pieces to understand about K-Pop award shows is the Daesang and Bonsang. A Daesang is the Grand Prize and a Bonsang is a main prize. The Daesangs are handed out at the Golden Disk Awards and the Seoul Music Awards. At the Golden Disk Awards you can get a Digital Daesang, which is based on online charts, music video views, etc. for a specific song, or the Disk Daesang, which is based on album sales. To receive either the Digital or Disk Daesang you must first be nominated for a Bonsang. At the Golden Disk Awards, every year there is a different number of artists nominated for the Bonsang for Digital and Disk awards. At the Seoul Music Awards they simply have a Daesang Award. Once again, in order to win this award you have to win the Bonsang. There are 12 winners of their Bonsang Award every year. At many other award shows there is no specific Daesang, like at the GDAs and the SMAs. However, you will often hear people refer to awards such as album of the year, song of the year, and artist of the year at award shows such as MAMA and MMA as Daesangs.

Every award show weighs each category differently, and some such as the Asian Artist Awards will have weird ways of voting where you have to get an app and there are various rounds of voting and I don’t know what the heck is going on. But, you have the basics of the award shows now, so we can get into some of the more recent controversies and famous performances.

Last year in a glorious moment, Exo-L’s (fans of EXO) petitioned the Blue House (South Korea’s equivalent of the White House) to shut down MAMA because they thought it was biased against EXO. To put this into context, EXO won Album of the Year at MAMA from 2013-2017 and Artist of the Year in 2014. They crashed the petition site for the Blue House, and because their petition got over 200,000 signatures, the Blue House was required to look at it. But, then, in a beautiful moment that I will remember forever, the Blue House publicly shamed Exo-L’s for taking up their time with useless petitions. Personally, I don’t like Exo-L’s, but that is partially because I am an ARMY (a fan of BTS). Early in BTS’ career Exo-L’s accused them of plagiarism and ever since then their fans have hated each other. Last year Mnet also deleted millions of fraudulent votes from MAMA voting. However, if you look at the votes they deleted, the deletions disproportionately affected BTS and allowed EXO to take the lead in some categories that BTS was previously leading by a large margin. Also, last year, Twice won Song of the Year. Twice had less than 1% of the vote, which is 20%, while music and record sales are 40%, both of which are combined with judges votes making up the last 40%. Twice’s sales for “Signal” were also not as good as many of the other songs nominated in the category. This made many people question why they won the category (perhaps including myself). Also, if Mnet needs to have Twice win a Daesang to appease their fans, they should choose one of Twice’s better songs. Signal was most definitely not their best song from 2017. As you can see, considering all of these events are just from last year and all are from MAMA, it is always quite the award show. This year YG and SM have announced that they are boycotting the award show, and as MAMA famously does not give awards to those who are not attending the award show, there will once again be lots of drama this year. I, for one, look forward to it.

There have also been many legendary performances at various award shows. In 2013 EXO performed “Wolf,” “Growl,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The first two songs are iconic K-Pop songs. Everyone who listens to K-Pop knows those songs even if they don’t like EXO. At the 2014 MAMAs G-Dragon and Taeyang performed “Good Boy” and “Fantastic Baby.” However, what made this performance so well-known was GD’s diss rap before the songs started. In this rap, he insulted MAMA as well as many of the other rappers in K-Pop. Then Taeyang came out shirtless and they began performing together. Some of my all time favorite performances at MAMA were Taemin’s performances of “Guess Who,” “Soldier,” and “Goodbye.” Taemin is one of the best dancers in K-Pop and this performance was a demonstration of the incredible control he has over his body in his dancing. BTS performed “Boy Meets Evil” and “Blood Sweat and Tears” in 2016, which were some of my favorite shows, too. Once again, the incredible dancing shown by two more of K-Pop’s best dancers, j-hope and Jimin was what made me include it in this article. There are, of course, many more amazing performances at MAMA and the other award shows. However, MAMA is known for the elaborate performances done every year.

Here are links to all the performances I just mentioned:

The dates for some of this year’s award shows have been released (all are KST):


Dec 10 (South Korea)

Dec 12 (Japan)

Dec 14 (Hong Kong)

Seoul Music Awards

January 15

Gaon Chart Music Awards

February 14

Korean Music Awards

February 28

Golden Disk Awards

Jan 5

Jan 6

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