Compare the line-up of ‘MAMA 2021’ with the years from 2013 to 2017: Is gen 4 making Kpop more boring than ever?

Because the majority of current 4th generation idols do not have widespread public recognition so even though year-end award ceremonies become crowded, the audience still don’t know who they are.

When the year 2021 enters its final month, Kpop fans become even more ecstatic because this is the time when year-end award ceremonies are held in Korea on a regular basis. To pique the interest of the audience, the organizers of numerous major awards have announced the lineup of artists who will perform in their events. However, the atmosphere before the year-end award ceremonies became less exciting when it appeared that the line-up of some events, the most prominent of which was “MAMA,” did not meet the majority of the audience’s expectations.

2021 MAMA

Last week, “MAMA 2021” announced the entire list of artists attending this year’s awards ceremony including Stray Kids, ATEEZ, NCT Dream, NCT 127, Wanna One, TXT, ENHYPEN, JO1, INI, Brave Girls, ITZY, aespa, Kep1er, Street Woman Fighter and Ed Sheeran.  It is easy to see that this line-up lacks many of current top Kpop groups and artists such as BTS, IU, TWICE, and BLACKPINK. Instead, a slew of 4th generation idols who made their debuts in the last three years have been confirmed to attend the show. Many people are beginning to wonder if the time for generational transition in Kpop has truly arrived.

2021 MAMA line-up

However, when looking back at the artist line-up of “MAMA” itself in previous years, including the generational transition period between the 2nd and 3rd generations, many people discovered that this award ceremony had gathered a series of famous names from many generations of artists.

MAMA 2013-2014 (beginning of the 3rd gen):

Big Bang, EXO, SHINee, BTS, SNSD, IU, Wonder Girls, AOA, A Pink, KARA, Lee Hyori, ZE:A, B1A4, Block B, TVXQ, BTOB, Zion.T, f(x), Miss A, 2NE1, 2PM, SISTAR, T-ara + Rookie groups: Red Velvet, Lovelyz, MAMAMOO, GOT7.

MAMA 2015:

Big Bang, iKON, PSY, CL-2NE1, GOT7, Zion.T, BTS, Pet Shop Boys, Park Jin Young, f(x), EXO, SHINee, SNSD-Taetiseo, Red Velvet, MONSTA X, San E, SEVENTEEN, TWICE, Jessi, Hyuna, Yeji, Truddy, Lil Boy, Basick, The Kox, Ailee, Kevin Oh.

MAMA 2017 (3rd generation peak):


Based on this list, Korean netizens believe that “generational transition” is not the reason for this year’s “MAMA” lineup’s disappointment. When K-pop enters a new generation of idols, it is unavoidable that new artists will constantly debut and be active. However, the audience is left wondering if gen 4 is making Kpop in general, and year-end awards ceremonies in particular, more boring because viewers don’t even know who these idols are.

Kpop groups 4th generation
  • MAMA needs a wakeup call like this. Do you not know how sh*tty they treated the artists last year? Do you want your bias to have no waiting room and stay in their cars and only go out to perform?
  • I’m not looking down on the lineup but this is just the result of MAMA’s power trip all this time
  • Last year, they only gave waiting rooms to actors while singers were waiting in the parking lotㅋㅋㅋ
  • What’s wrong with the awards ceremony failing because they are just kissing the actors’ asses?ㅋㅋㅋㅋ
  • 2017’s Melon Music Awards was the most solid… They had Twice, Red Velvet, Blackpink, Mamamoo, Gfriend, EXO, BTS, Wanna One, Seventeen and IU. Everyone was there
  • No offense against the 4th generation, but most of the current groups seem to only want to target the US market, so they always release songs that suit Westerners regardless of whether Koreans like it or not.
  • Gen 4 groups now focus too much on building fandoms, especially foreign fandoms, instead of focusing on domestic public recognition.  So even if the line-up is full of 4th generation groups that are considered the most successful, the public will not find it interesting because they don’t know who they are.”
  • Actually, the 2020 line-up is already bad but this year is the pinnacle of boredom.. Is it because gen 4 has no public recognition?”
  • TWICE-BLACKPINK-Red Velvet and EXO-BTS-SEVENTEEN’s hectic days must be the last exciting period in Kpop… I wonder if 4th generation can catch up with TWICE-BLACKPINK-Red Velvet and EXO-BTS-SEVENTEEN of the 3rd generation or Won-So-Ka-2NE1 or TVXQ-Big Bang of the 2nd generation?”
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