Last Friday, one of the most prestigious awards ceremonies in the Asian entertainment industry took place, the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA). Several artistes and groups took home big prizes at the awards function and millions of people across the world watched with joy.
However, chances are you were not one of them and you have probably never heard of this ceremony in your life. Also, it is even less likely that you had even heard about the artists or their music.
The MAMA awards, dubbed one of the most popular Korean pop (K-Pop) focused music awards shows by Billboard writer Tamar Herman, involves actors and other celebrities from China (including Taiwan), Japan, Indonesia, Canada and the United States.
This year, my favourite K-pop group took home two of MAMA’s awards, one being a much coveted Daesang or ‘grand prize’– The Artist of the Year. The group, BTS also known in Korean as Bangtan Sonyeondan or Bangtan Boys, is a seven member band who debuted in 2013.
Since its debut, BTS has defied the expectations of many due to its rapid and continuous rise in popularity as a group not from the ‘Big 3’ labels. The ‘Big 3’ refers to the three biggest entertainment companies in South Korea: S.M, Y.G and J.Y.P. BTS’ label is a relatively small company, Big Hit entertainment led by “Hitman” Bang Shi Hyuk.
Over the years, the Big 3 have dominated the MAMA awards ceremonies. S.M entertainment’s nine member group EXO, and Y.G’s five member group Big Bang, have the record for the most Daesangs at the MAMA awards. This year, the majority of awards went to artists from the three labels. But BTS was able to snag some for itself. This is why BTS’ win is so special.
BTS has been rising in popularity since its debut and enjoyed a spectacular year by earning four places on the Billboard year end charts this year, as Yonhap News reports. The band’s album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 2 charted as number 1 on Billboard’s World Album Chart where it stayed for several weeks. BTS also made history as the highest charting Korean artistes earning the 26th spot on Billboard 200.
BTS’ music spans a number of genres including Hip Pop, Trap, EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and R&B. The group’s spell-bounding choreography in music videos like Dope and Danger has also captured interest in the West, and its music and lyrical content earned BTS the title “K-pop’s Social Conscience” by American music company Fuse. The group has explored bullying, depression, loneliness and the pressures of youth – unpopular topics in the arguably conservative society that is South Korea.
However, BTS has been very successful despite its challenges. To date, it has sold an estimated 2.5 million albums worldwide.
These are all of the reasons I am so proud to congratulate BTS on its win and as the group’s leader said in his very tearful and awestruck thank you speech at MAMA, “May we [BTS] continue to fly with our beautiful wings in 2017.”