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MAMA ready to ‘make some noise’ with in-person ceremony next month

CJ ENM maps out a new vision to take the K-pop award into the US market

From left: CJ ENM’s Director of Live Entertainment Don Kim, Head of Music Entertainment Kim Hyun-soo and MAMA Chief Producer Park Chan-wook, attend the global press conference on 2021 MAMA in Seoul on Tuesday. (CJ ENM)
From left: CJ ENM’s Director of Live Entertainment Don Kim, Head of Music Entertainment Kim Hyun-soo and MAMA Chief Producer Park Chan-wook, attend the global press conference on 2021 MAMA in Seoul on Tuesday. (CJ ENM)
Turning the page to the post-COVID era, the nation’s biggest annual music ceremony, Mnet Asian Music Awards, will return as an in-person event after a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic.

CJ ENM, the host of the music awards, on Tuesday conducted a global press conference during which it announced the details of this year’s edition to take place on Dec. 11 in Seoul.

The entertainment arm of conglomerate CJ also revealed its vision to reposition the annual awarding ceremony as a global K-pop festival, with the ultimate goal of launching the event in the world’s largest music market, the US.

The firm’s head of music entertainment, Kim Hyun-soo, the chief producer of 2021 MAMA, Park Chan-wook, and director of live entertainment business, Don Kim, attended the in-person press conference. Zane Lowe, the global creative director of Apple Music, a new for the event, joined through a video message.

This year’s MAMA will be taking place under the slogan “Make Some Noise.”

“It’s a phrase that the artists must have been longing to shout out the most in the past two years. We’ll be bringing together the artists and the audiences in-person,” chief producer Park said, emphasizing the event will be conducted under strict compliance with the government’s quarantine measures to ensure the safety of all participants.

Hosting the event will be veteran musician Lee Hyo-ri, also the first-ever solo female host of MAMA since the Mnet music awards took up the name in 2009. According to Park, he selected Lee as she is “a music icon who has lived through the 20-year history of K-pop and herself, the past, present and future of K-pop itself.”

This year’s MAMA has a judging system based on three principles: popularity, expertise and fairness.

According to Don Kim, they have invited more experts of a global background who could provide an accurate evaluation in regards to K-pop’s upgraded status in the global market, while also working with an external agency, Samil PwC, to enhance the transparency of the voting and evaluation procedure.


Apple Music’s Global Creative Director Zane Lowe (Apple Music)
Apple Music’s Global Creative Director Zane Lowe (Apple Music)
CJ ENM joined hands with music streaming platform Apple Music to incorporate its streaming data as part of the judging criteria and also to use the platform as a means for the fans to vote for the two categories determined completely by the public -- worldwide fan’s choice Top 10 and worldwide icon of the year.

“Apple Music is excited to give K-pop fans the worldwide opportunity to celebrate K-pop music and vote their favorite artist on our platform,” Zane Lowe said. “Expanding itself across the globe as MAMA continues to make history as a pioneer of the K-pop industry, teaming up with MAMA was a natural fit, given the scale and creditability of the show in the past 12 years.”

The first line-up of performers was also revealed, and it includes a special collaboration by rookie artists.

“A joint performance created by K-pop’s future, members of the fourth-generation idol groups, is in preparation. We cannot reveal the members today but it will be released soon,” Park said.

Also on the line-up was British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who will join through a pre-recorded video.


Ed Sheeran (Warner Music)
Ed Sheeran (Warner Music)
Various special stages incorporating cutting-edge technologies, such as the augmented reality and visual effects, are also in the works for the global fans joining the event online.

As previously announced, boy band Wanna One, and the eight dance crews of the popular competition show “Street Woman Fighter” are also set to get much-anticipated reunions at the year-end event.

Kicking off as Mnet Video Music Awards in 1999 as the nation’s first video award ceremony, the event has grown into Asia’s biggest music awards show.

Looking back on the ceremony’s history, Don Kim said,

“As we explored more venues every year, fans and media of the location really loved the performances and the awards. The fact that MAMA has traveled with K-pop on its path to globalization is what mainly differentiates us from the other local music awards.”

“We plan penetrate into more unchartered global locations, including the world’s number one music market, the US, and to maximize K-pop’s potential so that MAMA can boast an award and performances that goes beyond those of any other local and global music awards,” Kim added.

The event will be aired online through various online channels, including YouTube and Tving, with the red carpet event kicking off at 4 p.m. and the main ceremony at 6 p.m. on Dec. 11.

By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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