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Battle of the stars: nominees contending for major 2018 MAMA awards

By Kim Arin

  • Published : Nov 12, 2018 - 18:34
  • Updated : Nov 13, 2018 - 09:45

V of BTS, Irene of Red Velvet, D.O. of EXO (Big Hit Entertainment, S.M. Entertainment)
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Mnet Asian Music Awards, or MAMA, a major South Korean music awards show.

Launched in 1999, the annual year-end awards ceremony is hosted by media company CJ ENM, which owns entertainment television network Mnet.

Touted as “a global music festival” and “the biggest music awards of Asia,” this year’s three-day event will take place in three cities, kicking off in Seoul on Dec. 10 before moving on to Saitama, Japan, on Dec. 12 and Hong Kong on Dec. 14.

This year’s competition is no less fierce than previous years. Below is the roundup of the nominees contending in major categories of the awards to be determined in December.

1. New artist of the year (Men)

Stray Kids (JYP Entertainment) and The Boyz (Cre.ker Entertainment)
Stray Kids

Stray Kids debuted in March with the EP “I Am Not” fronted by “District 9.” Formed by JYP Entertainment, the band has its own production team known as 3RACHA, consisting of members Bangchan, Han and Changbin who all write and produce music. Nicknamed JYP Entertainment’s “secret weapon,” the nine-piece act produces hip-hop-leaning songs with anti-conformity messages for the younger generation.

The Boyz

After winning new artist of the year at Soribada’s Best K-music Awards on Sept. 20 alongside Stray Kids and Nature, The Boyz disclosed in an interview that its ultimate goal is to be named new artist of the year at year-end awards, an honor bestowed upon the artist with the most promising first year. The 12-piece group debuted in December 2017 with the EP “The First.” Ju Hak-nyeon, its most well-known member, came into the spotlight through CJ ENM’s audition show “Produce 101.”


Kim Haon, better known just as Haon, is a teen rapper who rose to fame as a contestant on the second season of “High School Rapper,” a hip-hop competition show featuring teenage talent. He released his first album, “Travel: Noah,” on Sept. 5.


Also a contestant on “High School Rapper,” Vinxen dropped his first album under Loen Entertainment and staged his first concert dubbed “Aquarium” in July.

Kim Donghan

Kim Donghan came into the spotlight while starring on “Produce 101,” which led to his debut with the boy band JBJ and eventually to his solo debut with the EP “D-Day” in June.

Hyeongseop x Euiwoong

Ahn Hyeong-seop and Lee Eui-woong, both former contestants of the second “Produce 101,” debuted as a duo on Nov. 2 with the EP “It Will Be Good.”

2. New artist of the year (Women)

IZ*ONE (AKS) and fromis_9 (CJ ENM)

IZ*ONE is the third and latest project group from “Produce 101,” composed of the highest ranking 12 contestants from the show. Its debut EP “COLOR*IZ,” dropped on Oct. 29, is led by “La Vie en Rose.” In line with the music by former “Produce 101” project groups, “La Vie en Rose” is also a vibrant electro dance tune. IZ*ONE has enjoyed an impressive start on the music charts, topping iTunes K-pop album charts in 10 locales.


Having debuted on May 2 as Cube Entertainment’s latest act, (G)I-DLE has earned both public and critical acclaim with its self-composed debut single “LATATA” in May, followed by “Hann (Alone)” three months later. As with “LATATA,” the group’s leader Soyeon composed the most recent single.


fromis_9 debuted in 2017 under CJ ENM through the all-girls reality audition show “Idol School,” which ran for 11 episodes.


LOONA won best Korean act at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2018. Determined through fan voting, previous winners of the category include EXO, BTS, B.A.P and GFRIEND. Prior to its official debut in August with the album “+ +,” the 12-piece act released works in subunits.


Formed by Kiwi Pop, a subsidiary of Kiwi Media Group, GWSN debuted on Sept. 5 with the EP “The Park in the Night Part One.”


Nature’s August debut single “Allegro Cantabile” won the group the new artist award at the Soribada Best K-Music Awards. The nine-piece group consists of Korean, Japanese and Chinese nationalities.

3. Band of the year (Men)

V of BTS, Jinyoung of GOT7, Kai of EXO (Big Hit Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, S.M. Entertainment)

BTS is having a phenomenal year, having already won at major music awards around the globe including the Golden Disc Awards, Gaon Chart Music Awards, Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, iHeart Radio Music Awards, Soompi Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Radio Disney Music Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Soribada Best K-Music Award, Teen Choice Award and American Music Award.


GOT7, a fixture on Billboard charts, spent the first half of 2018 on a 17-city international concert tour, “Eyes on You.” The seven-piece act’s album “Present: You” lists 16 tracks, including solo tracks by each member of the group, penned and composed by the members themselves. The album landed on top of the iTunes charts in 26 countries immediately upon release.

NCT 127

NCT 127 dropped its first full album, “Regular-Irregular,” on Oct. 12. The lead track of the album “Regular” was released bilingually in Korean and English for stateside promotions. NCT 127 is the Seoul-based subunit of NCT, S.M. Entertainment’s boy band that has launched two other subunits, NCT Dream and NCT U.

Wanna One

Consisting of 11 members from “Produce 101,” Wanna One debuted with the EP “1x1=1 (To Be One)” in August 2017, which surpassed a million sales. Despite its commercial success, Wanna One has an expiration date due to the members being tied to different labels.


Since its debut in 2015, Seventeen has enjoyed success in Korean and Japan, leading to its official debut in the neighboring country in May with the EP “We Make You.” Known as “self-producing idols,” the 13-member act writes and choreographs its own music.


NU’EST W is a four-member subunit of originally five-piece act NU’EST, which debuted with the EP “W, Here” in October 2017. The band resumed work as a subunit as member Hwang Min-hyun became part of a project group from “Produce 101,” Wanna One, last year.

4. Band of the year (Women)

Joy of Red Velvet, Tzuyu of Twice, Jisoo of Black Pink (S.M. Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment)
Black Pink

Black Pink has been a smashing success ever since its appearance on the music scene with August 2016’s “Boombayah.” As YG Entertainment’s first female-only act since 2NE1’s debut in 2009, the quartet has gained an international following, proven by its success on Billboard and YouTube. Even its least watched music video, “Stay,” has hit over 100 million views as of April 2017.


Twice has had an unbelievably prolific year, having released three Japanese EPs, a Japanese single, its first Japanese full album and three regular EPs. The nine-piece group consists of one Taiwanese, three Japanese and five Koreans.

Red Velvet

All three of Red Velvet’s releases this year topped real-time music charts upon release. With the latest summer-themed EP “Summer Magic,” the quintet proved itself to be the reigning “Queen of Summer.”


Formed by RBW Entertainment in 2014, Mamamoo debuted in June 2014 with the single “Mr. Ambiguous,” considered as one of the best debuts of the year by critics. The quartet is known for its retro and jazzy music style.


The six-piece group debuted under the mid-sized label Source Music with the EP “Season of Glass” in 2015, winning several new artist of the year awards in its debut year.


Momoland was formed through the 2016 reality show “Finding Momoland.” The group gained mainstream recognition with the breakthrough hit “Bboom Bboom” in January.

5. Solo artist of the year (Men)

Dean (Universal Music) and Roy Kim (Stone Music Entertainment)

Dean was a prominent songwriter and producer before he made a name for himself as a performer. He was part of a songwriting team based in Los Angeles, whose impressive resume includes EXO’s “Growl,” “Black Pearl” and Justin Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl.” He debuted in the US in July 2015 with the single “I’m Not Sorry,” and dropped his South Korean debut single “Pour Up” in October of the same year.

Roy Kim

Discovered through Mnet’s talent competition show “Superstar K,” Roy Kim debuted with the studio album “Love Love Love” in 2013, which immediately became a nationwide hit. Kim won the new artist award at the 15th MAMA held in his debut year.

Park Hyoshin

The ballad singer and musical theater actor debuted in 1999. Park’s most notable works include “Snow Flower,” a Korean rendition of the Japanese song of the same title by Mika Nakashima, and “Wild Flower” which was nominated best song of the year at the Golden Disc Award in 2016.


Leader of the hip-hop group Block B, Zico made a successful transformation into a solo rapper in November 2014 with the single “Tough Cookie.”

Hwang Chiyeul

Hwang Chiyeul, also known by the stage name Ten2, ranked third in the fourth season of the singing competition show “I Am a Singer” in 2016.

6. Solo artist of the year (Women)

Taeyeon (S.M. Entertainment) and Sunmi (Make Us Entertainment)

The Girls’ Generation leader debuted solo with the EP “I” led by a track of the same title in October 2015. The music video for Taeyeon’s debut song has scored over 159 million YouTube views as of Monday. Taeyeon has since released nine solo works.


The former Wonder Girls star transitioned into a solo artist with the single “24 Hours” in August 2013. All of her follow-up efforts, from 2014’s “Full Moon to the latest “Siren” released in September, have been music chart successes.


One of the best-known contestants from the first season of “Produce 101,” Chungha debuted as a solo artist following the disbandment of the show’s project group I.O.I in January 2017.


A staple on music charts, IU spent the former half of 2018 focusing on acting. Her only single of the year, “Bbi Bbi,” is a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of her debut.


Rapper and singer-songwriter, Heize debuted in 2014 with the eponymous EP “Heize,” and became better known through the second season of rap competition show “Unpretty Rapstar.”

Fan voting, one of the major factors that determine each category’s winner, is being held for roughly a month, from Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. to Dec. 9 at 11:59 p.m.

Other factors include expert evaluation, data on album and song sales, social media voting and music video view counts.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)

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