My Top 3 Performances of the 2023 MAMA Awards

MAMA used to be such a big deal in K-pop, but I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even know when it was happening this year! The hype definitely seemed underwhelming. So rather than slog through the entire show and its meaningless awards, I hopped on YouTube and watched the performances. Here are the three that stuck out most to me.

3. Jeon Somi – The Way + Fast Forward

She’s had quite a musical transformation, and her confidence owned this stage. Both songs are total bops and meshed well together. The only awkward point was that too-long costume change transition between them. The stage went silent… and not in a good way. Luckily, the pay-off was worth it.

2. RIIZE + TVXQ – Rising Sun

Rising Sun will never not go off — especially in a live setting. It was a blast to see RIIE perform it (give them music like this, SM!), but then TVXQ came in to show exactly why they’re the rightful owners of this K-pop classic. One day I’ll be able to see this song performed live… I’m manifesting it…

1. Yoshiki x Taehyun x Hueningkai x Jaehyun x Anton x Han Yujin – Endless Rain

Endless Rain is another song that will never not go off. Yoshiki is such an expressive, emotional performer and I loved seeing this tone rub off on the various K-pop stars who joined him. It was a great opportunity to showcase individual skills within the context of a legendary J-pop classic. The high key was a bit of a strain for the TXT guys (who otherwise did a great job), but it’s honestly a strain for almost any vocalist. The emotion and theatricality of the stage made up for any of those shortcomings, and honestly it’s just refreshing to see an idol performance that focused on singing rather than choreo and staging.

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