The end of the year holds a lot of different meanings — the arrival of chilly weather, Thanksgiving, and the comeback of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” In the K-Pop world, however, it represents one thing: the arrival of award season.
If you’re new to the South Korean music industry, this time of the year can be overwhelming with all its voting sprees, similar acronyms (c’mon, what even is the difference between MAMA and MMA?), and fanwars. Keeping that in mind, I broke down the most popular ceremonies for you to pay attention to in the following months. Deleted:
MELON MUSIC AWARDS (MMA)
A major ceremony in South Korean music, the Melon Music Awards (MMA) are hosted annually by the popular Korean music platform Melon, and awards categories range from the daesang (grand prize) Artist of the Year to prizes focused on genres, performances, and more. Among this year’s contestants are names like IU, BTS, TXT, Chungha, CL, and rookies SINCE and STAYC, ranked based on a popular voting system.
MMA’s 14th edition will be held on Nov. 26 in Seoul’s Sky Dome and will happen offline for the first time in two years, after being presented online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is typically available to watch on Melon’s official website and 1theK’s YouTube channel.
MAMA (MNET ASIAN MUSIC AWARDS)
Home to many iconic moments in K-Pop’s history — like Jackson Wang’s shocked reaction meme and BTS’ and Block B’s “battle” performance — the MAMA Awards is recognized as one of the biggest ceremonies in the industry.
Also known as the Mnet Asian Music Awards, the show gives out accolades like Best New Artist, Best Dance Performance, and the four traditional daesangs (grand prizes) through online voting by fans. So, if your Twitter has been flooded with the hashtag #MAMAVOTE alongside the name of your favorite groups at this point, just know that it’s the stans doing all the work to make their faves win.
In this year’s edition, MAMA is set to happen on Nov. 29 and 30 in Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan. But don’t worry: The award show will be streamed on YouTube, so you can keep up with BTS, TWICE, Blackpink, and all the other nominees live.
ASIA ARTISTS AWARDS (AAA)
In 2022, the Asian Artists Awards (AAA) will go down on Dec. 13, in Japan, and will include a star-studded lineup, featuring SEVENTEEN, The Boyz, Stray Kids, and fourth-generation icons like IVE, ITZY, and New Jeans.
Honoring the music and television industries across Asia, the event first began in 2006 and will host its sixth edition this year. The Asia Artist Awards are currently one of the most reputable and anticipated awards among fans, and have been bagged by popular artists, like BTS, EXO and NCT in the past. The event will kickstart at 7 p.m. KST and can be streamed through Starnews’ V Live.
GAON CHART MUSIC AWARDS
Based on the Gaon Music Chart — a South Korean music chart similar to the Billboard Hot 100 — the Gaon Chart Music Awards honors the acts with the best commercial performances of the year.
Divided into digital music and physical album categories, the show is normally held in January and, this year, this most-awaited show will host its 12th edition. Neither the lineup nor the nominees have been announced thus far, so there are high expectations on who the contestants that owned the 2022 music landscape will be.
GOLDEN DISC AWARDS (GDA)
Nicknamed the “Korean Grammys,” the Golden Disc Awards is a major music award that accolades achievements in the domestic industry. Held for the first time in 1986, the ceremony has PSY, Super Junior, and BTS among its winners, and seeks to celebrate popular culture and creativity with bonsangs (main prizes) and two daesangs, the Album of the Year and Digital Song of the Year trophies.
Although the date hasn’t been announced for the 37th edition, the show usually airs in January. The criteria for the bonsangs and daesangs are based on expert evaluation and sales, but some categories also count on a popular vote, like the Most Popular Artist Award.
SEOUL MUSIC AWARDS (SMA)
The Seoul Music Awards are an annual ceremony that celebrates excellence in music. Honoring its winners based on music sales, popular votes and judge’s opinions, the event was first held in 1990 and includes EXO and BTS as its most-awarded artists, with 23 prizes each.
In this event, the daesang is only awarded to one music act (unlike, for example, MAMA), so it’s safe to say that the stakes are pretty high on this one. The prizes also include the Popularity Award, determined by domestic viewers’ votes, and the K-Wave Special Award, determined by the overseas fans.
Its 32nd edition doesn’t have a date yet, but it’s speculated that it will be set for the beginning of 2023.
KOREAN MUSIC AWARDS
Both mainstream and underground artists partake as nominees in the Korean Music Awards. Recognizing a variety of genres, the award is one of the most prestigious in the country and gives out its prizes based on recommendations of its panel of judges.
Held for the first time in 2004, the award has had 19 ceremonies so far and is usually set in February and March, celebrating the past year’s achievements and creations. The event has almost 20 categories, spanning over grand prizes and genre trophies in pop, folk and hip hop.