Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: MAMA’s Best Music Videos of 2011

2011 MAMA Mnet Asian Music Awards

An overview of the five videos that have been nominated by the Mnet Asian Music Awards for 2011.

After seeing BIGBANG win Best Worldwide Act at the MTV Music Awards the other day, I felt really pleased and happy for them, so I’ve become somewhat more interested in music awards (hence this post). Of course, awards aren’t the end-all be-all of K-pop (and in fact, having too many of these things gets pretty irritating), but once in a while, it’s nice for our idols to be given some outside recognition.

The Mnet Asian Music Awards, or MAMAs, are a popular year-end K-pop music award ceremony. Awards are given based on six categories, which I’ll quote verbatim from the Mnet page: Viewers Vote, Special Judge, Research, Album Sales, Digital United Chart (Digital Singles), and Selection Committee. So although awards are only partially determined by viewers’ votes—up to 30% based on category—they seem to be at least taken into account. Anyway, the categories are pretty interesting, and voting is simple, much easier than I anticipated: you can even sign in with your Twitter or Facebook account.

If you’re interested, you can vote here. It runs until November 25, and you can vote once a day.

Mnet Asian Music Awards MAMA logo

Jump links for the impatient:

Brown Eyed Girls | BIGBANG | Sunny Hill | Jang Kiha and the Faces | UV

Without further ado, let’s get started with…

Mini-Review: Brown Eyed Girls—“Sixth Sense”

This massively anticipated comeback track from the Brown Eyed Girls came with a very plotty and symbolic music video. The ladies become resistance fighters against a nameless masked evil. Since I already reviewed this MV in some depth, so I won’t repeat myself ad nauseam, but I’m pleased that it’s a contender.

Boyfriend’s (original) one-liner, as I didn’t make him watch it again:
“What’s with the Jew-hating? Meowww.”

Brown Eyed Girls Sixth Sense

Clockwise from top: Ga-in, Miryo, Narsha, and Jea.


Mini-Review: BIGBANG—“Love Song”

Even though I usually get annoyed by repeated English lyrics in the chorus, I hate this love song (just kidding) I really enjoyed this song. The guitar riffs are straight out of a U2 song but much catchier (sorry, I’m not a big U2 fan).

When BIGBANG released “Love Song,” both the concept and tone seemed totally different than other things they’d done. There was no gangster-like posing for the cameras, no real swagger or attitude, not even much of an awareness of the camera at all, which sets it apart from most idol music videos. The members just walk slowly (or perhaps in slow motion? Or some mixture of the two?) across a deserted post-apocalyptic wasteland, pausing to dance twice, in just two or three takes.

And despite the fact that the members seem barely aware that they are being recorded, the camera angles here are really what make this music video such a treat. The camera moves from simple close-ups to panning slightly outward and catching another member to literally flying up into the clouds. Also everything is on fire, and at the end a burning car crashes down from the sky. Yeah, talk about effortlessly badass. I think this style really suits BIGBANG: walking around in classy suits without pimping for the camera. I’m really anticipating their comeback.

Boyfriend’s one-liner:
“It’s raining cars; hallelujah, it’s raining cars!”

Big Bang members

T.O.P, Seungri, Taeyang, G-Dragon, and Daesung.


Mini-Review: Sunny Hill—“Midnight Circus”

This visually stunning music video depicts the gritty underbelly of an old-fashioned circus. There’s so much going on that it’s easy to get lost, but the tone of the video remains the same: creepily emotionless but so beautiful, like a puppet with its strings cut or a porcelain doll that you don’t realize is broken until you look at it more closely. And the dance is a great group dance, fitting the music well, especially on the cymbal crashes. Also, those images of Janghyun drumming his fingers on the trunk or of Kota trailing her finger on the floor are eerie and memorable.

Sunny Hill Midnight Circus members profile cage

Sunny Hill: Janghyun, Misung, Kota, Seungah, and Jubi.

The song itself took a while to grow on me. At first I basically disliked it, but the more I listened to it, the more those twisty lyrics got stuck in my head, and now it’s one of my favorites! (It helps that it’s another of those accordion types that I am apparently in love with.) That creepy reversed part is also really interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like that actually incorporated into a song. Usually you hear them as supposed “hidden messages” from Satan or something (hilariously parodied by Weird Al).

Sunny Hill Midnight Circus members profile

Janghyun, Kota, Jubi, Seungah, and Misung.

(I owe a huge debt of gratitude to The Abracadabras for helping me learn the members’ names.)

Boyfriend’s one-liner:
“Those are some damn nice smiley face glasses. Also, girls touching each other is sexy.”


Mini-Review: Jang Kiha and the Faces—“Just Know Each Other”

Jang Kiha and the Faces is an indie rock band whom I’d never heard of until I saw this MV. I still don’t know the members’ names (and sometimes they have two backup dancers called the Mimi Sisters?), but here are the people in this video:

Jang Kiha and the Faces members

Jang Kiha and the Faces.

There’s really only one way to describe this video, and it is The Hands Dance. Seriously, try to mimic this “dance,” and you’ll get a great workout, as the hands go perfectly with the music, especially towards the beginning. It’s an original, cute, simple concept that is executed well. (My boyfriend was let down that the camera eventually panned back a bit so we could see who was in the video, but I wanted it to do that so I could see the members.)

The song is like the video: relatively simple and catchy. I look forward to seeing more of their material. If you’re interested in their other songs, you can check out their Youtube playlist or website.

Boyfriend’s one-liner:
“Aw, they messed it up. They weren’t brave enough to keep their faces out of it. If they had, I predict they would’ve won.” [I don’t think that they’ll win the MAMA, which is unfortunate because I believe they would benefit the most career-wise from a win.]


Mini-Review: UV—“Itaewon Freedom”

UV is becoming known for the high quality of their tributes/parodies. (For example, see their “Who Am I,” a fantastic tribute to the Beatles.) For “Itaewon Freedom,” they enlisted the help of JYP to take on the London Boys’ “Harlem Desire” for inspiration in designing the set and the overall tone of the music video. The result is amusingly retro and refreshing in how the members don’t take themselves seriously and aren’t afraid to be ridiculous.

Itaewon Freedom members

Yoo Seyoon, JYP, and Muzie.

Itaewon is the foreigner district in Seoul, which is apparently popular with U.S. military personnel, and I think towards the end of the video UV actually filmed there. It’s really funny to see them with their afros and ’80s clothes amidst all the tourists. At the beginning, I thought UV might be making a statement about the city district with all the trash and Westerners in uniform, but after seeing “Harlem Desire,” I’m not sure. Perhaps they’re both making comments about the state of their relative places.

Boyfriend’s one-liner:
“Thank God it’s not 1989 anymore.”

Well, I hope that was a bit informative, and good luck to all the great artists represented in the MAMAs (and no, nobody is surprised that JYJ was excluded). I was pretty surprised that Leessang’s “Turned Off The TV” wasn’t included in the list, but I suppose they can only list five, and Leessang is represented in other categories.

So which one was your favorite, or which music videos would you have liked to see in the nominees?

EDIT: the MAMAs have now aired, and BIGBANG won in this category. Congratulations, guys! The full list of winners is here.

Go to the Best Music Video nominees for 2012 >>


  1. I am torn between BEG and Sunny Hill. They are both good. Big Bang's song is a good song, but the mv was too simple. I am not going to spend 3 and a half minutes watching dudes just standing there.

  2. Jang Kiha.. deserve more recognition. They are so weird! I don't really LOVE their music but I like watching them live.

  3. LOL, that's what my boyfriend said, too, although he wants the hands dance one to win.  I personally voted for Sunny Hill, but I wouldn't mind if BEG won. :)

  4. This was my first introduction to them, but I've been checking out some of their other videos. I haven't seen their live performances yet, but maybe I should check some out! They are really original. It's nice to see indie rock sometimes! :)