10 MAMA Stages That Bedazzled Us Over The Last Decade

2020 is finally here. Many of you have been reminiscing over your most memorable moments in the last decade, and since Soompi is all about K-pop, what better way to celebrate the new year than to look back on some of the most iconic MAMA stages to date!

The popular award show has had many names since launching in 1999 and its ceremony format saw many changes throughout the years. In 2009, it was reborn into what we know today as the Mnet Asian Music Awards. The early years witnessed a handful of sets brought to you by the talented second generation of idols with amazing performances, such as a nostalgic tribute to their seniors in 2008. Recently MAMA bears many more exciting additions, from being held outside Korea in neighboring places such as Macau, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and Hong Kong, to introducing concept-based stages that illuminate our screens at the end of every year.

While we would love to mention every act that has graced the MAMA stage, the stages below are some of the most memorable ones per year. Here is, in chronological order, some of MAMA’s most impressive performances from the last decade.

1. Wonder Girls – “So Hot,” “2 Different Tears,” “Nobody” (2010)

Were you around when Wonder Girls blew people’s minds with this fabulous showcase? If not, now is your chance to catch up! Their delicate aerial silk dancing number alone left fans talking for days, as it combined sexiness and elegance. And if you’re wondering about their vocal abilities, the powerful performance of the following songs shows exactly why they’re called the Wonder Girls.

2. Lang Lang, Highlight, Troublemaker – “Moonlight Sonata,” “Fiction” (2011)

So many details about this set deserve a mention. After a video introduced the concept, pianist Lang Lang initiated the performance with a soothing rendition of “Moonlight Sonata” before joining the orchestra in playing the instrumentals for Highlight’s “Fiction.” Honestly, you wouldn’t know you needed this goosebump-worthy version until you’ve listened to it, especially with the group’s explosive vocals. The performance is briefly bridged by HyunA and Jang Hyunseung’s sultry dance and steamy kiss, which was the talk of the town for quite some time. This also served as a minor spoiler for the duo’s debut as Troublemaker, which was scheduled later on.

3. Lee Hi, Epik High – “It’s Cold,” “Don’t Hate Me” (2012)

From first glance, this looks like Lee Hi is serenading us with her sweet voice, joined by Tablo and Mithra Jin via screen only. Little did fans know that the minute “It’s Cold” would end and “Don’t Hate Me” would start, they basically signed up for an insane performance by Epik High. Everything from song choice to costumes and props perfectly matched the assigned theme. The ambience was nothing short of epic, which testifies that this mighty trio always goes to great lengths to bring their best when it comes to music.

4. EXO – “Growl,” “Wolf” (2013)

Heads up, fierce wolves are coming your way! In this 11-minute visual venture, EXO was really in their element in this thrilling combination of “Growl” and “Wolf” as they showed off their playful, charming, and intimidating sides. They delivered a flawless choreography with precise moves that got you hooked, and their dance break was simply breathtaking.

5. BIGBANG’s G-Dragon and Taeyang – “Eyes, Nose, Lips,” “Good Boy,” “Fantastic Baby” (2014)

From Taeyang’s graceful vocals that had the audience singing along to G-Dragon’s fiery diss that drove them wild, it goes without saying that BIGBANG instantly makes any award show their own private mini-concert. The duo also performed their hit single “Good Boy” alongside a majestic crew of dancers, and together they set the stage on fire before energetically concluding with none other than the group’s viral title track “Fantastic Baby.”

6. CL & 2NE1 – “The Baddest Female,” “Hello Bitches,” “Fire” (2015)

This is perhaps one of the most mentioned MAMA stages of all time, and for good reason. It’s common knowledge that CL has an incredible stage presence that lights up the atmosphere, and this MAMA performance of her solo releases is proof. But what fans weren’t expecting at the time was 2NE1 hitting the stage together one last time. This performance undoubtedly caused an emotional rollercoaster and granted us a moment to remember.

7. BTS – “Boy Meets Evil,” “Blood, Sweat, & Tears” (2016)

2016 was definitely BTS’s year. First, they introduced this captivating concept which took MAMA (and the rest of the industry) by storm due to its literature-based inspiration. Then they were able to snatch their first Daesang on the show as Artist of the Year. But before that happened, they blessed us with an ethereal and intriguing intro followed by a charismatic performance of their hit release “Blood, Sweat, and Tears.”

8. Taemin x Sunmi – “Gashina,” “Move” (2017)

When two gifted artists share the stage, you know you’re in for a treat. While it would have been amazing to have them join for actual collaboration, seeing Taemin and Sunmi dance each other’s respective key point choreography was worth all the hype this short-lived stage got. Oozing charisma and skills, the pair caught eyes, hearts, and ultimately breaths during this mesmerizing cross-cover!

9. MAMAMOO – “Cleopatra,” “Easy,” “Selfish,” “Above Live” (2018)

Sexy, confident, and daring: I say Mama Mamamoo~! The quartet has been around for years and each performance outbests the last, but the following sets simply owned their spot in this feature. You have Solar turning heads with her sultry pole dancing, Wheein serenading the audience with her soulful vocals, and as for Moonbyul, she proved yet again why she’s the group’s rapper. Lastly, Hwasa bewitched the attendance with her flamboyant stage. Needless to say that these four solo acts gave us a lot to think about!

10. TWICE – “Feel Special” (2019)

Ending this piece on a fancy note, TWICE’s R&B remix of “Feel Special” is my pick from the latest MAMA ceremony. The girls’ mature concept made them even more buzzworthy, and their upgraded choreographies are definitely a catch. This makes us wonder what else these ladies have up their sleeves, but this very performance of theirs is promising for what’s to come next!

Which MAMA stage impressed you the most? Let us know in the comments below!

Esmee L. is a Moroccan lively dreamer, writer, and Hallyu enthusiast.

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