Korean award shows never seem to run very smoothly, and this year’s Mnet Asian Music Awards (aka the “MAMAs”) was no exception. There were awkward moments, technical difficulties, and worst of all, the noticeable absence of many of K-pop’s top stars. But it wasn’t all bad. Amidst the messiness, the MAMAs was saved by a slew of incredible performances, which included the likes of HyunA, PSY, Super Junior, and even Adam Lambert. If you were unable to get through the entire six-hour show, we’ve wrapped things up with a list of the good, the bad, and the downright bizarre moments from the 2012 MAMAs.
The Sex Factor
We’re not usually used to seeing Korean idols push the envelope too far when it comes to sexuality, but somebody must have spiked the water at the MAMAs, because the ladies were totally out of control. Brown Eyed Girls’ babe Ga-in writhed around on a table during her performance of her orgasmic hit, “Bloom,” pop diva Seo In-young stripped down to knee-high boots and lingerie for “Anymore,” SISTAR’s Hyorin and Bora lifted their legs over their heads during a tango performance of “Alone,” and HyunA and Hyunseung served up an extra-racy rendition of “Trouble Maker.”
Ailee Wins Best New Artist
Jersey girl turned K-pop princess Ailee deservedly won the award for Best New Female Artist. The 23-year-old was able to trump fellow songstress Juniel to snag the trophy, but some of the other nominees, such as AOA and Hello Venus, were never going to be hard to beat.
f(x)’s Amber becomes a fangirl for Adam Lambert
K-pop artists are known for being some of the best performers in the world, but Adam Lambert gave Korea’s top entertainers a run for their money with his pitch-perfect performance of “Whataya Want From Me” and “Trespassing.” But the best part was seeing him gain a new fan in f(x)’s Amber, who was spotted singing along and bopping her head more than once during his two-song set.
SISTAR’s Big Win
2012 has seen SISTAR climb into the girl group big leagues, so it was exciting to watch the hardworking foursome cement their top dog status by picking up the Best Female Group award over A-list stars like KARA, T-ara, Girls’ Generation, and 2NE1.
Super Junior Glow in the Dark
When SuJu started their MAMA performance with “Spy,” it looked like it was going to be a typical run-of-the-mill rendition — the kind we’ve seen the group do fifty million times before on countless music programs. It turned out that the boys were just trying to lull us into a false sense of security before hitting us with a show-stopping, glow in the dark performance of their 2011 hit “Mr. Simple.”
HyunA and PSY Steal the Show
There were a lot of big stars at the MAMAs, but none shone brighter than HyunA and PSY. HyunA started off by rocking one of the night’s coolest red carpet looks, continued with an outrageous rendition of “Trouble Maker,” and then finished by helping PSY close the show with an epic “Gangnam Style” dance performance. PSY, on the other hand, was the MAMAs main man, evoking the loudest cheers from the crowd all night and picking up four awards, including the coveted Song of the Year gong.
SHINee Slay “Sherlock” on Stage
After winning the Best Dance Performance award in the male group category, SHINee proved that they were more than worthy of the honor with an electrifying showing of their hit single, “Sherlock.”
Korean Hip-Hop Takes Over
With all the attention that’s put onto K-pop, K-hip-hop is often overlooked by the international community. That could soon change after last night’s epic performance, which saw some of the country’s best rap talent take the stage for a 10-minute non-stop rap-a-thon that put some of America’s top emcees to shame.
Turn Up and Win an Award
As usual with the MAMAs, 95% of the awards seemed to be given to whichever artist in the category decided to actually show up. While many of the wins were deserved, there were definitely some that came off as a little suspicious.
T-ara Snubbed For f(x)
Although T-ara snagged a couple of nominations this year, they were noticeably overlooked in two key categories: Best Global Group Female, and Best Dance Performance. It was odd to see them missing when they sparked one of the year’s biggest K-pop dance crazes with their “Lovey-Dovey” shuffle, not to mention their successful entry into the Japanese market and promotional activities across Asia. Then there’s f(x), who have neither started a catchy choreography trend like T-ara or successfully advanced into any foreign markets, yet still somehow managed to get nominated in both categories. Eyebrows were further raised when f(x) actually won the Best Dance Performance trophy over highly-choreographed groups like SISTAR, miss A, and SECRET. Perhaps T-ara’s recent scandal, and the fact that two of f(x)’s members are Chinese (the MAMAs were held in Hong Kong this year) helped lead the “Electric Shock” singers to victory.
PSY Loses to BIGBANG and G-Dragon
Whether you like PSY or not, the fact that he’s released the biggest K-pop song in history and shattered the record for the most-viewed music video of all-time should make him a shoe-in for every K-pop award he’s nominated for this year, right? Wrong. In a shocking upset, PSY not only lost the Artist of the Year award to BIGBANG, but also Best Male Artist to the group’s leader, G-Dragon. What the hell!? If PSY’s recent success can’t get him at win for Best Male Artist, then absolutely nothing can.
BIGBANG Get Their Cray-on
Someone should’ve told BIGBANG that sometimes less is more, because the super group was all over the place during their gaudy MAMAs performance. From giant skulls to stilt-walkers to shirtless gyrating dancers, there was just way too much going on to focus on anything. It didn’t help that all the members were shouting and jumping around everywhere, and that they even decided to sing GD’s annoying electro track, “Crayon,” instead of one of their own hits like “Bad Boy.” The chaotic, over the top display had Laurieann Gibson’s name written all over it, and considering that they’ve been working with her for their recent world tour, we’d bet that this crazy mess was her handiwork.
Seo In-young’s Awful Engrish
There were a lot of English-speaking idols at this year’s MAMAs, like f(x)’s Amber and Krystal, KARA’s Nicole, and of course, Ailee. So who does rapper B.o.B. choose to duet with on his hit single, “Airplanes?” Seo In-Young! The sexy songstress took Haley Williams’ spot and virtually butchered the entire performance with her dodgy Engrish, laughably warbling her way through the hook: “Rye could really ruse a rish rye now.” She gets an “A” for effort, but next time, this kind of thing should be left to someone with better pronunciation.
JYP & Wooyoung Dance to C&C Music Factory
2PM star Wooyoung delivered one of the best performances of the night when he whipped out “Sexy Lady” and “DJ Got Me Going Crazy,” but things started getting a little weird when he disappeared and was replaced by J.Y. Park. The 40-year-old hitmaker started off old-school and jazzy, but somehow ended up shirtless in a studded leather vest rocking out like he was on stage at a Metallica concert. Things got even weirder when Wooyoung returned and the pair started getting crunk to C&C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now.” It was kind of awesome, but it was also like watching a leather daddy dancing with his twink BF at the gay bar. But if that’s the vibe JYP was going for, then good for him — he certainly nailed it.
Epik High Confuse Hong Kong for Gotham City
And the most bizarre performance of the night goes to … Epik High! When rookie songstress Lee Hi stepped on stage to sing her part of the hip-hop trio’s hit, “It’s Cold,” nobody was expecting them to burst out of a gigantic egg dressed like the villains from Batman. It was as crazy as JYP’s performance was camp, but the group brought enough energy and eccentricity to the stage to make it work.