#SmartKLife: Entering the world of Kpop with 2020 MAMA

Smartees living the #SmartKLife share their 2020 MAMA stories that brought them closer to their love for Kpop.

Photo By: Rammy Bitong

In the K-pop world, December means numerous award shows that celebrate the industry’s brightest stars and the most exciting comebacks of the past year. And when one thinks of award shows, Mnet ASIAN MUSIC AWARDS or more known as MAMA is what primary enters everyone’s minds. With a long history that dates back up to 1999, MAMA has been witness to the ever-changing growth of not just K-pop but Asian music as a whole. And despite all that has happened in 2020, MAMA recognized the need to continue on and celebrate these idol groups’ milestones for the year in the spirit of music.

Our very own Smartees Rammy Bitong, Patricia Prieto, and Iñigo Pascual got to attend the awards show with other pinoy K-pop fans as part of a non-contact audience. “This was my first time being part of a K-pop show as an audience after just watching performances on YouTube in the past,” Iñigo shares. Patricia’s experience is the same; only having seen the MAMA performances through Youtube clips. This is why being part of the audience was a different and interesting experience for her, sharing that “knowing that there's a chance that your fave idols could possibly see you was just awesome!”

Photo By: Rammy Bitong

Rammy Bitong, a professional DJ, admits that he had no previous notions of K-pop but had increasingly become familiar with it because of his line of work. But even with his unfamiliarity, he’s had his fair share of K-pop experience. “The first music video I saw was Taeyang’s Wedding Dress music video in 2010,” he shares. “What I loved about it most was the choreography. Everyone I knew wanted to learn the choreography. It even reached a point where my friends and I memorized it and started performing it in parties,” he finishes.

Photo By: Pat Prieto

On the flip side, Pat Prieto is a self-proclaimed K-pop fan who is both a Blink and an Army. She’s also fan of numerous 4th gen K-pop groups overall. This is why it’s no surprise that she was very excited to watch the 2020 MAMA awards, mentioning that she was looking forward most to TWICE, Mamamoo, BTS and NCT.

Iñigo, wearing a jacket from EXO Baekhyun’s fashion line Privé Alliance.

Meanwhile, singer and songwriter Iñigo Pascual’s relationship with K-pop runs deep. “Every song that they do and every music video that they put out is well thought of,” he speaks of what he is inspired by the most. It was around 2016, while recording his first album, that Iñigo first started getting interested in K-pop, citing BTS, SEVENTEEN, Big Bang, and EXO as his favorite groups. “The very first music video that I watched was Pretty You by SEVENTEEN and it sparked this enormous emotion in me and inspired me as an artist na sana makagawa ako ng ganitong klaseng production, ganitong klaseng songs and ganitong klaseng music video,” he shared. Eventually he was able to work with K-pop music director Dawittgold (EXO, NCT, ASTRO, FT Island) for his 2019 single “Options.”

MAMA was fittingly opened with a very majestic performance from Taemin, the prince of K-pop. His performance of IDEA and Heaven from his most recent album Never Gonna Dance Again perfectly set the tone for the entire show: an ode to the power of performance.

One of the highlights for the evening comes from the newly debuted group ENHYPHEN who started off their interesting set with a beautiful skating performance led by member Sunghoon. Girl group IZ*ONE gave a gorgeous performance of Panorama that glittered through our screens.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/IamRouphee

SEVENTEEN and TWICE, who are both among the winners of Worldwide Fans’ Choice, delivered strong performances. 13-member group SEVENTEEN, known for their choreography, gave a show-stopping performance of their big 2020 comeback songs Left & Right and Home Run. Meanwhile, TWICE dazzled everyone with their pointed performance of “More & More” and “I Can’t Stop Me;” but it was the debut showcase of “Cry For Me” which showed a dark side to the famed girl group that stole everyone’s attention.

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One of the evening’s most ambitious performances is from Favorite Male Group winner NCT which explored the 23-member group’s limitless aspects by featuring their different subgroups: NCT 127, NCT Dream, WayV, and the rotational unit NCT U. They started off by showcasing their unique mastery of language by performing the emotive ballad “From Home” which was performed in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and English. The group was quick to switch it up with fiery performances of Turn Back Time, Kick It!, Ridin’, and Resonance— a mash-up of four different songs from their most recent album.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/myBTSwishes

It comes to no surprise that BTS took home the night's biggest awards in what is called by many as a "Daesang Sweep." The group took home the trophy for Worldwide Icon of the Year, Best Male Group, Song Of The Year (for Dynamite), and Artist Of The Year. Awaited by many, their performance featured their explosive global hits ON and Dynamite; but it was the poignant “Life Goes On” that truly left an impression as its theme explores the emotions of life under lockdown.

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One of the most-awaited performances of the evening comes in the form of Legendary K-pop star, BoA who performed her hit songs, “NO. 1” and “Only One.” Beginning her career at the age of 15, BoA is recognized as someone who has forged her pioneering and unique path in the industry. And as she celebrates her 20th year in the industry this 2020, Mnet ASIAN MUSIC AWARDS decided to honor her with the Inspired Achievement Award.

As the show closed, our Smartees shared their favorite parts of the show which range from the sprightly to dark, tender to bullish. Rammy was so impressed by TWICE and shared that “having a big group/band has its pros and cons and they pulled off a great performance while making good use of the whole stage!” For Iñigo, the Jessie and Hwasa collaboration stage was his ultimate favorite. “I was just amazed with how they performed together with their own flavor; but together they just seem so powerful.”

“Their seriousness for entertainment is unlike any other I’ve seen,” Rammy shares of his experience of watching the awards. When asked how he thinks the show affected him on a personal level he answers, “I’m inspired to be part of well-produced shows.”

As for Iñigo, he continues to be inspired by the artistry and craft behind K-pop and hopes to reflect the same mindset “of growth and just being open to anything and thinking outside of the box and thinking outside of the ordinary just like what K-pop Idols in K-pop production.”

Pat likens her post-show feelings to this by sharing her appreciation of “the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears they put into what they do.” Her takeaway? “Put in the hard work and it'll all follow.”

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Throughout the show, the hosts keep on asking the question “What is your new-topia?” This harks back to the show’s theme. Aptly titled, "NEW-TOPIA,” this year’s theme was described as “To Open a New World of New Normal Era Through Power of Music.” As we have witnessed in 2020, the times are truly changing and we are moving forward to a new, different world. But despite this, shows like Mnet ASIAN MUSIC AWARDS stayed relentless in their vision of showcasing what these artists are capable of. At the end of the day, this also reflects the human strength and will to move on towards a new world. So whether you draw strength from the ambitiousness to explore your limits, the will to forge your unique path, or the courage to pull back the curtain and reflect on living life through a pandemic, the key is to always look towards the future with bright eyes.

Get to relive your 2020 MAMA experience by watching the Mnet ASIAN MUSIC AWARDS main show and NEW:TACT 2020 MAMA - BEHIND THE SCENES & HIGHLIGHTS at https://smart.com.ph/Pages/GigaFest/Mnet-MAMA2020.