MMA vs. MAMA: Award Shows Showdown
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
By Rachael Lovette
From calling out chart manipulation tactics in acceptance speeches and getting fan lightsticks banned to riding into a performance on real horses and everything in between, the Melon Music Awards and Mnet Asian Music Awards are the must-watch awards shows for K-Pop fans of any size.
Melon Music Awards
Launched in 2009, the Melon Music Awards (also known as MMA) is a major music award show held annually in South Korea concerning the online music store, Melon. Nominees are chosen by calculating artists’ weekly Melon Popularity Award votes, song downloads, and streaming counts on Melon during a specific time frame (such as November 30, 2019, and November 10, 2020, for the 2020 awards). Fans must be verified Melon users to vote and can vote once per day during the voting period. Once the voting for the “TOP 10” closes, nominees for the remaining categories are announced and another round of voting begins. Sounds easy enough right?
Since 2015, the Melon Music Awards has become an influential stage to perform and/or win on because it virtually sets up the artist or group’s success for the next year. Here’s a look back at some of the best performances and moments in recent years.
MONSTA X Performance Award Speech 2015
Not even 6 months since debut, MONSTA X landed their first major award show win and to say they were unprepared is a gross understatement.
EXO Artist of the Year Award Speech 2016
Even though EXO won artist of the year, they still took the time to identify and compliment other artists they admired for also working hard that year.
BTS Album of the Year Win 2016
From being blissfully unaware that they’d win to sharing their emotions (tears included) on stage, BTS didn’t hold back their appreciation for this award as well as their love for their fans.
IU Performance 2017
If you need a beautiful, effortless, and moving performance, IU is your girl! It’s no wonder she is a favorite among celebrities in the Korean entertainment industry.
BLACKPINK Best Dance Female 2018
What’s cooler than winning the award for Best Dance Female? Having a young dancer tease you’re the winner by doing various song choreography in front of a venue full of K-Pop artists and fans.
(G)I-dle Performance 2018
Proving they deserved Female Best New Artist Award, (G)I-dle award show performance was nothing short of show-stopping.
BTS Performance 2019
BTS turned the 2019 Melon Music Awards into a mini-concert with solos by members, VCRs, and moments that will make your jaw drop.
The 2020 MMA Awards
This year the Melon Music Awards held a four-day event from December 2 through December 5, dubbed “MMA Week.” MMA Week featured a variety of performances, special videos, stories, and interactions with fans online. Awards were announced throughout the week, which seemed to take away (at least for me) from the overall excitement of the award show. The main award ceremony was broadcast on Melon’s official YouTube channel, Melon app, and various other online platforms on December 5. While many of the awards were given out throughout the week, the red carpet was still the place to be for many artists.
So who was the big/biggest winner? What artist had the best performance?
The biggest winner of the 2020 Melon Music Awards was BTS as they took home five MMAs including Artist of the Year, Best Dance Male, Neitzen’s Choice, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. Other winners included Monsta X as Best Performance, BLACKPINK for Best Dance female, and The Boyz for best Original content on 1theK.
As previously mentioned the 2020 MMAs were turned into a weeklong event as opposed to a one-and-done evening event. This year’s performers included BTS, TXT, Monsta X, Im Young Woong, Young Tak, Oh My Girl, IZ*ONE, JANNABI’s Choi Jung Hoon, Simon Dominic, Code Kunst, and The Boyz. A shorter list than you’d expect right? However, that didn’t stop these artists from pulling out all the stops on not one, but multiple performances throughout the night.
BTS – Black Swan (dance performance), ON, Life Goes On, and Dynamite
Hot off their 2019 MMA performance and ready for more, BTS set the bar once again by showcasing that you can turn any performance into a mini-concert with the right mindset. What’s more - they didn’t fill in the parts of their member Suga who is out due to shoulder surgery and let it play (they must miss him).
Monsta X – Intro, Beast Mode, and Love Killa
What do you get when you combine highly difficult choreography, commanding stage presence, and effortlessly seductive costuming? Proof that they do it better, especially when they go back to their roots.
Oh My Girl - Far + Bon Voyage (YooA solo), Dolphin (acoustic version), and Nonstop
There’s nothing that a whimsical, yet refined performance can’t fix, right? As one of the few female performers on the main night, this was the one to watch.
TXT – PUMA, Blue Hour (dance break version), and The Chaos Chapter (new album) teaser
From the highest highs to the lowest lows, TXT took fans on a rollercoaster of emotions and if The Chaos Chapter is really what’s next - I for one can’t wait!
MNet Asian Music Awards
Launched in 1999 and modeled after the popular MTV VMAs, the MNet Asian Music Awards (or MAMA as it’s known by fans and artists), is a major South Korean music awards ceremony presented annually by entertainment company CJ E&M. Artists and music experts from South Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam who participated in music-related content (writing, singing, producing, etc.) are eligible to be nominated for a MAMA (between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, for the 2020 awards). Nominees for K-Pop categories are chosen by calculating things like music sales, record sales, and MAMA Professional Panel. Fans can vote once per day and can use up to 10 different platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Kakao to sign in to vote -- so technically they could vote 10 times per day if they so choose. The 2020 voting period was over a month-long which allowed fans to be eligible for fansign lotteries if they voted every day. Congratulations to those lucky winners, am I right?!
Similar to the MMAs, the MAMAs are a sought-after stage to perform on for artists. Artists pull out all the stops to impress their peers, impress their fans, and transition into superstar status. However, MAMA isn’t just a place for artists to showcase their talent, fans flock to this event so much so that lightsticks were banned. That didn’t stop ARMY from sneaking them in in 2019 and subsequently being called to arms by BTS’s Taehyung on stage.
So instead of giving you over twenty years of best moments, here’s some from the last four in anticipation of 2020.
2NE1 Performance 2015
Not one to mince words, 2NE1’s devil-may-care attitude style performance at the 2015 MAMA awards cemented them as one of the girl groups of the decade.
TWICE Song of the Year Speech 2016
From Best Rookie in 2015 to Song of the Year in 2016, TWICE had a lot to be proud of and were more than appreciative of each other, their staff, and fans.
Taemin Performance 2017
Taemin is one of the best and most innovative dancers in the K-Pop industry, so a solo performance must be a win-win for all, right?
MONSTA X Performance 2017
MONSTA X’s iconic rap line was front and center to kick off their MAMA performance, but it was their elegant lyrics that won the hearts of fans and fellow idols by the end.
BTS Artist of the Year Speech 2018
Never one to shy away from wearing their hearts on their sleeves, BTS’s 2018 speech isn’t for the faint of heart.
Stray Kids Performance 2018
Rookie group Stray Kids took their MAMA performance to the next level by starting in the nose bleeds with fans.
ATEEZ Performance 2019
ATEEZ are self-proclaimed BTS fanboys, so it’s no surprise that they started their epic performance with their rendition of a few BTS favorites and ended with a surprise fan service moment.
BTS Artist of the Year Speech 2019
Chart manipulation is huge in the music industry, but it takes real guts to comment on it on a public stage.
GOT7 Moments 2019
Jackson, Jackson, Jackson. If you didn’t think K-Pop artists were expressive, funny, and terrible at hiding their emotions, think again.
The 2020 MNet Asian Music Awards
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year was the first time in eleven years that the MNet Asian Music Awards were held entirely in South Korea. Even though the 2020 award ceremony was an un-tact (non-face-to-face) event it was still business as usual for artists and celebrities alike. From popular actresses and actors presenters and the charismatic host, Song Joong Ki to solo and group artists, the red carpet was full of celebrities serving amazing looks.
Eighteen of the fifty-two award categories at the 2020 MNet Asian Music Awards were voted on by fans. So how did the fandoms perform in securing their favorite group or groups? ARMY proved to be a force to be reckoned with for the second year in a row as they helped BTS secure Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Worldwide Icon of the Year. Other notable winners included Monsta X (Best Stage), Taemin (Favorite Male Solo Dance Performance), ATEEZ (Discover of the year), and SEVENTEEN (Global Favorite Performer).
This year’s list of performers included ATEEZ, BTS, Cravity, Enhypen, (G)I-DLE, GOT7, IZ*ONE, JO1, Mamamoo, Monsta X, NCT, Oh My Girl, Seventeen, Stray Kids, Taemin, The Boyz, Treasure, Twice, and TXT. So what artist or artists had the coolest performance? Here’s my take on the best performances and moments of the night.
ATEEZ - Inception + Answer
ATEEZ has found their rhythm as of late in a vampire-esque storyline complete with gothic costumes, makeup, and synchronization that’ll make you swoon.
BTS - ON
BTS’s ON Kinetic Manifesto Film: Come Prima music video is iconic not only because of the location (L.A.) but also the choreography and live marching band. So how could it not be epic on a larger stage?
GOT7 - Not by the Moon
One of the few groups to use the whole stage (and then some) GOT7’s Not by the Moon performance was as beautiful as you’d expect from these Worldwide Fans’ Choice Award winners.
Juyeon (The Boyz) x Hyunjin (Stray Kids) x San (ATEEZ) - Triangular Fight
What do you get when some of K-Pop’s best dancers face off in an “impromptu” dance battle? One heck of a teaser for what’s to come on the next season of MNet’s The Kingdom that’s what!
MAMAMOO’s Hwasa – Maria
Don’t blink or you might miss something cool as Hwasa takes Maria to the next level with sexy dance moves, water, and more. Nothing less than you’d expect from the woman who won Best Solo Dance Performance, right?
Stray Kids - Victory Song
Wow - simply wow. Stray Kids transformed into stunning gladiators (complete with weapons) for this remixed performance and you can’t help but cheer for their victory to the end.
WayV - Turn Back Time
Who doesn’t love a little water? This NCT subunit septuplet didn’t miss a beat in this beautiful choreographed rendition of their hit on the main stage.
Even though you can’t technically compare apples to oranges, the same can’t be said for MMA and MAMA. In previous years artists have taken it as a personal challenge to outdo each other as well as themselves if they made it to one of if not both grand stages to perform. This year, however, the MAMAs seemed to beat the MMAs in every category (costuming, AR/XR technology, red carpet fashion) except for the length of the show and artist treatment. While MMA chopped up its awards and performances over a four day period, fans spent six hours watching MAMA. Not to mention that due to the level 2.5 social distancing rules in effect in Seoul, artists were staged in their vehicles in the parking lot and many were spotted at the McDonalds nearby because customary snacks weren't provided.
As a fan of music award shows, I can only hope that as we figure out what live music shows may look like in a post-pandemic world that we remember to treat others (both fans and artists alike) how we want to be treated.
Rachael Lovette is the Digital Director at Flower Bomb Media with a passion for everything K-Pop, fashion, model advocacy, and pop culture. Follow her on Instagram @kindofvoguish.