It’s award season again and, like every year, it has brought with it controversy and frustration from some fans. We noticed it in our team chat, we’ve all seen it in our feeds and we’ve probably all thought it “what on earth are THEY doing in THIS category??”
One of the largest issues with this years MAMA‘s specifically has been YG and their artists’ inclusion in several categories. It turns out that I am on one-side of the fence and my friend and fellow writer Ash is on the other. We have promised to have a polite debate and you all should too! Here’s how it’s going to work: we’ll be taking turns explaining our points and positions as well as answering the points of the other. When you read this, feel free to comment as well, but remember the rules: no personal attacks on the writer, speaker, artist or opinion and no swearing!
Ash! Go first, pick a color so they can tell who’s who!
To start this spectacle of views and opinions, MAMA had been an annual thing for Kpop entertainment, agencies, artists and groups, both popular and unpopular. For this year, it has been a hot topic for BIGBANG possibly missing out the much-awaited awards’ night, despite of them making a huge comeback after three years of absence as a group, not to mention, joining the rosters to the nominees’ list and one of which is a hot hot hot category – Oupu Best Dance Performance Male Group. This has unleashed every beasts from different fanbases, both internationally and domestically, making rounds of bashing all day(not to mention night) long questioning the legitimacy of such nomination for a group not known for powerful dance moves. As a VIP myself, I was really shocked at first but I knew it wasn’t made just for the sake of nominating one of Kpop‘s successful group under a known and influential agency, YG Entertainment. But my question for it is not why BIGBANG is actually there in the first place, but why isn’t BTS nominated in that category? Like c’mon Mnet, you could have given us at least some explanations how you do about your whole nomination process, and to all anti-fans, you could have at least explained thoroughly why you think BIGBANG should not be in the list of nominees right? And I beg to disagree that BIGBANG should not be there, because if you look at their choreography, it’s one of the most appealing to the masses, easy to follow, and not to mention, catchy and cool.
I feel, and have since I got in to KPop, that the MAMA’s are a PR stunt and that the voting is worse than a popularity contest. Harsh, I know, but I feel pretty good about it. One of the things that Ash mentioned is accurate to my point: how are people nominated? How are votes tabulated? I’ve had it explained to me and I feel like the answer changes from person to person and sometimes feels so vague that it might as well include reading the entrails of mammoth. Since you brought up BIGBANG I have to disagree with nominating them. They don’t dance like other groups no matter how you slice it. I honestly feel that they were included only because of their mention in the Billboard list of ‘dance songs’….as in ‘club songs’ not ‘songs where the groups execute any dancing of technical note’. BTS’ dance practice videos (the ones where they’re learning it) have more technical precision than any dance done by BB. What about SHINee? Or UNIQ? Or any of the other groups that ACTUALLY dance? It’s a clear case, in my opinion of the YG hype machine in full force. Not to mention the part where iKON was nominated for rookie of the year….
Again, if we have to dissect the main point here Leigh, it’s quite clear that blame should not go to the artists or groups involved in the nomination, but I have to agree that powerful and influential agencies may have addition to this awards bonanza, as if everything’s already finished or predetermined the moment they’re nominated. Come to think of it, what can an underrated group such as Group XYZ with an agency with not much promotions to start with compared to Godzilla agencies such as YG, JYP and SM? A slim chance, like 0.0000001% of winning. But I beg to disagree with what Leigh said regarding BIGBANG being nominated under that category just because they have been mentioned in the Billboard. Again, the issue here is how MNet and agencies play the game. Is it a fanbase game? A game of chance? It’s not only YG that should be the target of this conspiracy just because of its success this year, but the whole MNet Asian Music Awards process of nomination. Technically, BIGBANG knows how to dance, and to note, they have lots of practice videos as well, not too mention live performances having them 5 danced to their song. It’s not why BIGBANG’s nominated, but why other dance machine groups such as BTS, UNIQ and others not nominated on this category.
If you have other points that need to be raised, do so, but for now, we should tackle a bit on the general aspect of MAMA Awards turning it to a Music show rather than an awards night-turn-concert. What is the aim of the music awards’ night? What should be the program of it? If it’s about showcasing of talents and songs of this year, it should at least give those who actually have good music both in its style and content, a chance to showcase them, to make them at least known to the public. Bringing us to another hot topic about rookies.
You will not convince me that BB needs to be in this category, not at the expense of other groups. For the record though, since you asked, I am like this about SM artists that are sure to sweep their category at the expense of other groups from smaller labels. And you’re right, it’s not the fault of the artist, it’s a game of money and politics more than anything. It’s also a blind-fanbase issue. I don’t mean fans of the group, I mean self-professed stans who would vote for a performance of a shrieking goat if it came from their favored label. This is not to seem that I’m comparing what I’m about to talk about to a shrieking goat, it’s just an exaggerated example. The issue we’re both dancing around is iKON. iKON the troublesome, the long-awaited, the problematic, the under-whelming elephant in the room. I FIRMLY believe that they have NO business being nominated for Rookie of the Year. When the announcements were made, they had only released their ‘warm-up single’ I think. Now, I was underwhelmed by their release but that just means I shouldn’t vote for them. My issue is that they’re being held up for ONE song, at the time of nomination, when there are groups that had a larger body of work that deserve the nomination more yet are from smaller labels. Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of the debuts this year. Is it a coincidence that there was a ‘fan outcry’ about iKON and BB’s lack of inclusion in this event and then the nominations come out and there they are? Not even close.
I could remember myself posting a status on my Facebook wall regarding the issue on why BIGBANG is nominated under Best Dance Performance Category. It’s pretty simple, and even dancers may agree or disagree to it. If we rate BANG BANG BANG to other dance performances of BIGBANG it’s really catchy and easy to follow, making it “danceable”. It seems difficult to objectify but on a simple individual’s perception, dancing is an art where it evolves. And I think and am firm that BIGBANG, again, is also deserving to be on that spot alongside with other dance machines such as EXO, SHINee and GOT7. But we should not contest to that, but rather to the idea that BTS is absent on that specific category where me, myself, and I would not argue whether they’re good or not, because in the urban hiphop dancers’ community, they dance to their performances, and become instant fans of these korean kpop idols that bring powerful, striking and aesthetically beautiful routines and choreography. Like if you watch early years of BIGBANG, T.O.P. was not simply holding a staff or cane and walking fancy. He was actually moving his body like there’s no tomorrow, as if YG himself is in front of the stage teaching and shouting at them “1, 2, 3, 4, okay to the left now,”. DANCE is not limited to one genre and it varies from time to time. The category itself is rather general than specific. But to all honesty, despite my being pure-blooded VIP, as a dancer myself and enthusiast to such art, BANGTAN SONYEONDAN SHOULD BE NOMINATED AND OWNS THIS CATEGORY IF YOU’D ASK ME. IF THEY GET NOMINATED, I WILL REALLY USE MY DAILY VOTES FOR BTS!! The choreography, precision and how they perform it with passion, dedication and love, yep, BTS is really the show-stopper! The level of difficulty, the cleanliness of how they dance, and the mastery, they got it, and mastered it.
Now going to the main course of our clash, I wouldn’t agree with you again. On this one, I will still not raise my white flag, and I would strip off my YG-ness on this. I am an enthusiast of WIN: Who Is Next, then MIX & MATCH where both WINNER (Team A) and iKON (Team B) faced off for a spot to stardom. Well, WINNER won the first survival, and fans flooded different social media to air out their emotions at YG Entertainment to release or debut Team B. It cause a major uproar, and YG was as if caught off guard, and the year after WIN, WINNER debuted with a full album, that showcased their natural color and music souls. A mixed of hip-hop sentimental pop ballad that is new to most YG enthusiasts. It was also the year where one of the most anticipated rookies to win numerous awards and Rookie of the Year Award, the Akdong Musician.
Well, WINNER won the Rookie of the Year Award, and undeniably, their debut album and song, “Empty” was and still is a track to listen to. And it’s a song composed by iKON’s leader, B.I. Truly, we could say as well, during the survival show WIN, Team B’s members were something, a force to reckon with in the future. They may have lost that show, but during the Mix & Match show, Bobby, Jinhwan and B.I. were already sure members of iKON. And as the show goes, you could see how each individual progressed and blended well with the group. Now, even if we wanted to strip-off iKON from its agency’s influence, it’s a fact that YG still have a mark on them all. It’s like when they win, people will generalize them or automatically, “It’s obvious. They’re from YG”. It’s as if saying they’re just winning or good because they’re from YG.
But let’s look at it in a different perspective. We could see how YG as an agency uses its strategies and powers to support its “family members”. We have seen them trained excessively with every ounce of sweat, blood, tears from these boys from iKON. Some of its members were trainees since they were young. So, I say they deserve all the praises because they worked hard for it, same as all the idols and artists who debuted, they may not be from YG, but again, process wise, they all went through the struggle of becoming a star.
And now, to somewhat objectify, I am not impressed with the debut “warm-up” song they chose, and if it’s the song chosen to be judged or the basis for nomination, it’s not a strong track to be honest. They could have started with a STRONG WARM-UP instead of a mellow sentimental pop song. I say, it was a failed marketing experiment that somehow similar to how YG would have wanted to be like BIGBANG’s comeback. As an iKONIC, I know how fellow fans and supporters would feel if their idols or inspirations are compared or criticized objectively(it’s different from Subjective criticism, if you’d ask me, it’s pretty obvious). But let’s face it, it was a wrong choice of song to start with or debut. But overall, they still deserve to be nominated as Rookie of the Year. Win or lose, they still gave their shot with a cutesy concept, and that should not be a hindrance for them being nominated.
Ok, one thing at a time. Yes, BTS (and others) should have been nominated for best dance, we agree. I think what we disagree on is if BB should have been included. You say yes because of the ease with which fans can dance along. I say no, pretty much for that same reason. Best still means something, or it should. Catchy or easy to follow, is not ‘best’. But we can agree to disagree on this part. 😀
Poor iKON. I really feel for them. I will never say that they don’t bust their butts, they work really hard but that can be said of every K-Pop group in the industry. I will never say that they didn’t work hard and improve before they got to where they are at the moment. Why do I feel for them? At the risk of turning this into a different topic, here’s why: they’re under an intense microscope and expected to be INCREDIBLY good when even their CEO has said that they’re just not up to it. Doesn’t sound familiar? Why was their debut delayed? According to Mr. YG, because their songs weren’t good enough. Why didn’t they win the first round? They weren’t good enough. People have taken to calling them ‘The Bobby and B.I. Show’ which isn’t fair to the other guys. They’re winning shows and selling albums when, in reality, if you compare them to other releases, they’re just mediocre. They’ve been thrust into an enormous spotlight, with whispers of them being expected to be the ‘next BIG BANG’ when they’ve struggled since day one. This isn’t what we came here to talk about and yet I feel like, this part will be what I get the most burn for.
My issue with their nomination doesn’t have a thing to do with their ability though. My issue has to do with WHEN they were nominated; they had ONE song I think, perhaps two. They were nominated within days of the release of their ‘warm-up single’, which it seems we agree wasn’t great, when many of the groups on the list I shared had ‘better’ songs and were left off. It makes it seem as though this is not based on talent but instead on hype and anticipation.
If we’re going to look at hype, anticipation, improvement, overcoming adversity etc as criteria for a group’s worthy of winning, we have to talk about SEVENTEEN. Pledis is hemorrhaging money, they’ve got big names they can’t promote because they don’t have money and they debuted SEVENTEEN. SEVENTEEN does everything on their own (probably because of lack of money), their choreo, their composing, their production. They work so hard, which I know we say is done by everyone, but in their case, they work MUCH harder than others. I’m not a fan of their work for the most part, but I admire their work ethic which was also documented on a music reality program.
It’s like we’re straying off our main issue. We have to see the process of nomination to totally decipher the problem. But if the basis for nomination will be the actual debut song, despite my being iKONIC and YG-biased, I have to crown it to SEVENTEEN as well. If we’re going to crown the same for female, I have to crown it to The Ark. Why? Musicality-wise, lyricism, and concept for Music video exceeds my expectation compared to those also nominated for MALE category. Too bad The Ark wasn’t nominated at all. So I have to give it to TWICE. They have blown my expectations away. Yes, it’s an undeniable fact that they’re from JYP, one of the BIG 3 agencies in South Korea. But they have what it takes of a rookie. Striking and will really leave a mark in our hearts and minds. But again, I am also disappointed why BTS is not nominated to OUPU Best Dance Performance category. It’s really impossible them not being nominated.
I would also like to agree on the matter of iKON being a Double B group, which should not be the case in the first place. Yes, they may be leaders of their group, but we can’t help but notice that in most instances. I am happy that the recent releases give credits and opportunities to other members to showcase their talents. YG should take note of that. We love iKON, but please, it’s not iKON if we only have 2 people actually being showcased. And again, I have to agree with the song chosen for debut. It broke the Berlin wall of expectations and enthusiasm for most iKONICs worldwide. Well, we loved it, but it was too hyped up that our expectations and excitement really plummeted. Some say it was due to overhyped marketing and advertising, and wrong packaging as well, because people thought of it as the new “BIGBANG” or bad-ass street hip-hop themed with explosive bass, beats, and lyrics. But it was the exact opposite, and that for one should be taken into great consideration with the marketing team of YG. In the end, I still love iKON, and their new songs really are empowering and moving. If Anthem, Apology and Airplanes were the bases for nomination to MAMA 2015, I will bet even my soul for iKON being BEST NEW MALE ARTIST of 2015.
We should always and always look at things in many perspectives. Constructively and objectively, we should also know how to criticize, even our biases, because it will also help them. In YG, they have monthly assessments, same goes with other agencies if my memory serves me right. It is a way for them to actually grow better and help them produce more exciting songs and performances for us. MAMA should be an awards night that should be fair and equal to all artists and groups. No double standards and no special treatments. If it is going to be an advertising awards night, then why nominate people. It should be remembering, appreciating and promotion of Korean music to fans worldwide. I wish and hope to have the previous awards back, like best in Ballad, best in Indie etc… to take notice and give due to those artists that also create powerful and inspiring songs, but have less(financially) and no promotions. Artists and groups should always remember why they’re making music. And most of them want to support their families, which I see very important, and next, for their fans/supporters to love. Fame or awards should not be their goal or objective, because if that will be their purpose of why they’re doing music, it’s shameful if you’d ask me.
To give my final thoughts on the matter, we should not be too bias when it comes to being constructive and objective.
If you love and want one group, support them wholeheartedly, whether they win or lose. Whether they get awards or not. After all, they make music to survive, to be respected as artists and musicians, and for people to be inspired and motivated. Agencies and management should also treat their artists and groups well, because that’s really important. When you invest money, you should also invest your respect, care, love and most especially respect to your artists, and that will reciprocate greatly. There are many classic examples of artists being successful on this field, same goes with the agency that handles them. We should not deny that BTS under Big Hit exemplifies this, also BIGBANG to YGE.
My final thought on this is that of course there are missteps in artist management and in company management. No company and no one person is perfect. Pledis might have gotten lucky with SEVENTEEN, they might have the perfect group to save them from financial ruin. Big Hit certainly got very lucky with BTS in terms of concept and market timing. YGE has had years of success, one could argue that they’re falling victim to the same thing that tripped up SME: using a group formula and business practices that are out-dated. That however, is a discussion for another time.
By all means, vote for whomever you think deserves the win, please don’t think I am judging people for who they love. Far from it actually. I always think that you should vote with your heart, for the one you think deserves to win. And if your favorite doesn’t win, try to lose gracefully. At the end of the day, awards don’t mean as much as fan support.
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