With 2017 coming to a close, a brand new year of K-Pop draws near, also meaning that the wave of award shows is upon us. This is the time that super-fans gear up, preparing themselves for the endless streaming and constant voting in order to pay back their favorite artists for their hard work with some shiny trophies. But instead of focusing on the here and now, sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step back and see where this all came from.
Time to Shine
K-Pop idols participate in an overwhelming amount of end-of-the-year music festivals and award shows. With so many happening at once, it can be hard to keep track of which ones are the most “important” or if it’s possible to vote as an international fan. In terms of prestige, it’s hard to say, as it can’t be determined based on the age of the award show nor can be it based on popularity. Some may also argue the validity of some award show votings, with scandals breaking out every year. Nevertheless, the award shows are an idol’s time to shine, and even if they aren’t awarded, they still share their presence with special idol interactions and the almost holy red carpet looks.
Introduction to the Awards
There are various levels of prizes that are awarded to celebrities based on their achievements. Typically, the same basic awards are used across each ceremony, including those based on popularity, music video production, and even for those recently debuted. Of course, awards based off of music genres are given as well as awards for best performances, OSTs, and more. Prestige falls upon the grand prizes, referred to as Daesangs. These include three main awards: “Song of the Year,” “Album of the Year,” and the highest award, “Artist of the Year.” Different award shows cover different categories, however they all follow the same basic format.
Breakdown of the Award Shows
One of the oldest Korean award shows, the Golden Disc Awards has been highlighting artists annually since 1986. Due to their great history, many people look forward to the elegant ceremony, this year occurring on January 10 and 11, 2018. For the past four years, EXO has swept the Daesang for “Album of the Year”; however, the award show is well-known for awarding artists who truly “deserve” their awards due to their fair judge panels.
Moving on, the Korean Music Awards is a relatively newer award ceremony that only began in 2004, yet is credited for being one of the most esteemed award shows. Interestingly enough, the majority of the winners are not your generic K-Pop idol, but that’s due to the panel of judges, professionals in the industry who choose the most artistic pieces rather than falling prey to the mainstream pop. Covering one of the broadest ranges of music genres, the KMAs truly contains some of the brightest gems of the year.
Other popular award shows include the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMAs), the MelOn Music Awards (MMAs), Seoul Music Awards (SMAs), and the various Gayo Daejun held by MBC, SBS, and KBS. While these other award shows may not live up to the expectations of the GDAs or the KMAs, they make for a festive environment where the K-Pop experience is at its highest.
Credit: Golden Disc Awards
Expansion Out of Asia
Typically attending Korean or other Asian award shows, a few K-Pop artists have sporadically broken out and won awards in international award shows. Whether in Europe or in the Americas, it’s an incredible accomplishment that truly says something about the Hallyu Wave. Starting simple, the MTV Europe Music Awards started up their “Best Korean Act” award in 2013, with the likes of EXO, B.A.P, and BTS winning awards, and with GFRIEND more recently in 2017 taking home their prize. T-ARA’s fandom first showed off their international might when they surprisingly won Billboard’s “Fan Army Face-Off” in 2015, continuing their winning streak for the following two years. While not necessarily a big name award, it spread the name of K-Pop to other international fans (especially One Directioners). But, while an amazing achievement, these awards and award shows didn’t come close to grabbing the attention span of the international world beyond the confusion of where these K-Pop idols came from and surprise at their immense followings.
Here to Stay
While other Korean acts have made it to the awards podium, this is one of the first times a K-Pop group has taken on the stage spotlight. Recently winning big at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards with the “Top Social Artist” award, BTS made the headlines with the announcement of their upcoming American TV debut, performing at the 2017 American Music Awards. Sharing the stage along the likes of Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, and so many more, BTS generated buzz since they haven’t been nominated for an award, but were just performing during the awards ceremony. Regardless, with their explosion in popularity, the clock is ticking until they set yet another record for K-Pop.
Unlike other groups with their limited coverage, the appearance of BTS on the red carpet of the BBMAs sparked a frenzy—over their good looks, over RM’s perfect English, and over the boys’ interactions with their favorite American celebrities. The difference, though, between BTS’s success versus any other artist, is that BTS has been able to use social media as a platform to launch themselves into the American scene. Unlike the seemingly “forceful” entry of Girls’ Generation or Wonder Girls back in the early 2010s, BTS’s entry was natural, with other celebrities and media stations practically lining up to learn about them.
Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images and The American Music Awards
All throughout the night at the AMAs, BTS took the spotlight whenever they were mentioned. Their red carpet looks were jaw-dropping, causing yet another storm through Twitter with newcomers trying to understand who they are (and how they look so good). With numerous interviews and an insane amount of momentum generated from their impact, BTS quickly and frequently appeared on the screen, inciting screams from the thousands of ARMYs that made it to the show. It took a while for the boys to finally get on stage, and although most were tired as the night deepened, BTS instantly reenergized the entire audience, getting everybody on their feet for the electrifying performance. The fanchants boomed as the crowd went wild, with even non-K-Pop fans bopping along and screaming out “DNA” when the chorus came. Following BTS’s phenomenal performance at the AMAs, they are set to appear on numerous shows including The Ellen DeGeneres Show and the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show, with many more coming in the near future! With this latest performance, it’s clear that BTS is taking America by storm, and there’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing them in future American award ceremonies!
Credit: The American Music Awards and Kevin Winter/Getty Images
The year’s end calls for glamorous, star-studded award shows, but considering K-Pop’s expansion into the international world, it’s hard to see what the next few years will bring other than the fact that the front line of K-Pop groups are revolutionizing the K-Pop industry. With fan armies growing larger than ever, voting-based awards may become even more of a warzone than they already are, but it also allows us to be able to see our favorite artists broadcasted live on American and international TV.