JJ Lin united K-pop fandoms at 2018 MAMA

The Singapore-born singer made us swell with pride

JJ Lin performs at 2018 MAMA; JJ Lin with GOT7's Jackson
JJ Lin performs at 2018 MAMA; JJ Lin with GOT7's Jackson
17 Dec 2018

JJ Lin performs at 2018 MAMA; JJ Lin with GOT7's Jackson

Photos: CJENM

DIRECT FROM HONG KONG: Confession time. We made a huge mistake when we attended the third and final night of the 2018 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) at the AsiaWorld-Expo last Friday night (December 14).

We underestimated Singapore’s very own JJ Lin.

Not his skill and stage presence, of course (anyone would know better than to commit that crime). Instead, what we honestly were not expecting to witness was the overwhelming fan reaction to the Mandopop star, especially at a Hallyu-centric event with BTS and Wanna One commanding most of the spotlight (if the earth-shattering screams and number of light sticks and fan banners were any indication).

We got our first clue to his popularity when each artiste was introduced on the video screen, and when the volume of cheers for JJ pretty much rivalled that of the ones for the aforementioned top boy groups. Okay, wow, not bad, we thought, momentarily forgetting our amazement as we sat back to enjoy performances from the other acts.

After GOT7’s powerful presentation somewhere past the halfway mark of the four-hour show, Running Man’s “Commander” Kim Jong Kook appeared on stage to introduce JJ as the next performer and as the winner of the Best Asian Artist (Mandarin) award. The cheers that had already begun building up amplified further as JJ immediately went into his first song of the night, ‘Little Big Us’, at a grand piano (no more bat-like costumes and descending from the ceiling, but that’s okay).

His next number, ‘Twilight’, was like a massive karaoke session for the audience, but what we really found heart-warming was the sight of all the light sticks of different colours, shapes and fandoms in the room - from BTS’s to Wanna One’s to GOT7’s to Seventeen’s to TWICE’s - waving in unison to the beat as those wielding them sang along to JJ. Definitely not something you see every day.

“I hope that more people come to understand the beauty of Chinese music and poetry,” said JJ during his acceptance speech after his set (which also included a flawless duet of ‘Hate That Happiness Came’ with Jong Kook, for whom he wrote the track in 2016).

Judging from the reactions we read on YouTube and Twitter, which included high praise from folks who admitted that they’d never even heard of JJ before this (better late than never!), we reckon that he managed to accomplish his goal that night, and we are swelling with #localpride.

Click through for more photos and some of our favourite moments from the 2018 MAMA main show!

Additional photo: Weibo/JJ Lin

Girl power takes centre stage
Girl power takes centre stage
17 Dec 2018

Girl power takes centre stage

After legendary American singer Janet Jackson was conferred the Inspiration Award (and gave a, well, inspiring speech about dreaming of a better world without hatred, discrimination and suffering), the girl power theme seemed to continue with back-to-back performances by Chungha, Heize and Sunmi. While their stages had a bit of an ice queen-like setting with fake snow and other visual effects, they were hot, hot, hot.

And as much as we wish TWICE performed, it was touching to see three of the members, Jihyo, Dahyun and Chaeyoung, helping to draw attention to a girls’ education campaign. It’s always nice when high-profile platforms are used for a good cause.

Seventeen shows a darker side
Seventeen shows a darker side
17 Dec 2018

Seventeen shows a darker side

We were trying to figure out what was different about the 13-member group compared to when we last saw them in Singapore three months ago, and it hit us: the usually bright and sunshiny bunch were displaying a darker, more “serious” concept - and we approve, also because we got to see them flaunt some sharp and extraordinarily synchronised choreography that was absolutely mesmerising to behold in real life. Just saying.

That Best Dance Performance (Male Group) trophy was very, very well-deserved indeed.

Wanna One’s no-frills but impactful appearance
Wanna One’s no-frills but impactful appearance
17 Dec 2018

Wanna One’s no-frills but impactful appearance

We’ve seen singers ascend to the surface of the stage from below tons of times before, but for some reason, Wanna One’s straightforward rise (they didn’t even get an intro video or anything), followed immediately by the fiery ‘Burn It Up’, came so quickly that we almost didn’t know what hit us. Now that’s definitely one way to make an entrance.

Momoland and Mommy Son’s collaboration
Momoland and Mommy Son’s collaboration
17 Dec 2018

Momoland and Mommy Son’s collaboration

Never heard of Mommy Son before? Now, you won’t be able to forget him. The balaclava-donning rapper, who first made waves as a contestant on rap reality programme Show Me The Money 777, teamed up for a performance with the ladies of Momoland - along with an entire army of backup dancers dressed like him, mask and all, which was honestly a little bit freaky (but it did make an impression, obviously).

BTS’s raw, sob-filled acceptance speech
BTS’s raw, sob-filled acceptance speech
17 Dec 2018

BTS’s raw, sob-filled acceptance speech

Sure, we loved the super-group’s epic mini concert and can’t wait to see more when they return to our sunny shores for their National Stadium gig next month (OMG, it’s next month already!?), but what we really want to talk about is their tearful and tear-jerking Artist of the Year acceptance speech.

Despite experiencing massive success over the past few years, the honour still came to a surprise to them (“We can’t believe we can win this award,” said V, who cried until his face was as red as his hair and his suit), and what surprised us in return was Jin’s no-holds-barred revelation that they had a difficult time mentally earlier this year, and that they had - gasp! - even considered disbanding.

We’re glad you pulled through your struggles, boys, but please remember to take good care of yourselves too.

Kim Jong Kook and JJ Lin at 2018 MAMA
Kim Jong Kook and JJ Lin at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Kim Jong Kook and JJ Lin at 2018 MAMA

Additional photo: Instagram/JJ Lin

BTS win an award at 2018 MAMA
BTS win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

BTS win an award at 2018 MAMA

BTS win an award at 2018 MAMA
BTS win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

BTS win an award at 2018 MAMA

BTS perform at 2018 MAMA
BTS perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

BTS perform at 2018 MAMA

BTS perform at 2018 MAMA
BTS perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

BTS perform at 2018 MAMA

BTS perform at 2018 MAMA
BTS perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

BTS perform at 2018 MAMA

BTS perform at 2018 MAMA
BTS perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

BTS perform at 2018 MAMA

BTS perform at 2018 MAMA
BTS perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

BTS perform at 2018 MAMA

Wanna One's Kang Daniel performs at 2018 MAMA
Wanna One's Kang Daniel performs at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Wanna One's Kang Daniel performs at 2018 MAMA

Wanna One win an award at 2018 MAMA
Wanna One win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Wanna One win an award at 2018 MAMA

Wanna One win an award at 2018 MAMA
Wanna One win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Wanna One win an award at 2018 MAMA

Wanna One win an award at 2018 MAMA
Wanna One win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Wanna One win an award at 2018 MAMA

Seventeen win an award at 2018 MAMA
Seventeen win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Seventeen win an award at 2018 MAMA

Seventeen perform at 2018 MAMA
Seventeen perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Seventeen perform at 2018 MAMA

Seventeen perform at 2018 MAMA
Seventeen perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Seventeen perform at 2018 MAMA

GOT7 perform at 2018 MAMA
GOT7 perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

GOT7 perform at 2018 MAMA

GOT7 win an award at 2018 MAMA
GOT7 win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

GOT7 win an award at 2018 MAMA

GOT7 perform at 2018 MAMA
GOT7 perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

GOT7 perform at 2018 MAMA

TWICE's Dahyun, Jihyo and Chaeyoung talk about girls' education at 2018 MAMA
TWICE's Dahyun, Jihyo and Chaeyoung talk about girls' education at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

TWICE's Dahyun, Jihyo and Chaeyoung talk about girls' education at 2018 MAMA

TWICE win an award at 2018 MAMA
TWICE win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

TWICE win an award at 2018 MAMA

TWICE win an award at 2018 MAMA
TWICE win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

TWICE win an award at 2018 MAMA

Host Song Joong Ki at 2018 MAMA
Host Song Joong Ki at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Host Song Joong Ki at 2018 MAMA

IZ*ONE perform at 2018 MAMA
IZ*ONE perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

IZ*ONE perform at 2018 MAMA

IZ*ONE win an award at 2018 MAMA
IZ*ONE win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

IZ*ONE win an award at 2018 MAMA

IZ*ONE perform at 2018 MAMA
IZ*ONE perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

IZ*ONE perform at 2018 MAMA

Chungha at 2018 MAMA
Chungha at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Chungha at 2018 MAMA

Heize at 2018 MAMA
Heize at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Heize at 2018 MAMA

Kim Jong Kook at 2018 MAMA
Kim Jong Kook at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Kim Jong Kook at 2018 MAMA

Momoland win an award at 2018 MAMA
Momoland win an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Momoland win an award at 2018 MAMA

Oh My Girl and WJSN team up for a performance at 2018 MAMA
Oh My Girl and WJSN team up for a performance at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Oh My Girl and WJSN team up for a performance at 2018 MAMA

Roy Kim at 2018 MAMA
Roy Kim at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Roy Kim at 2018 MAMA

Sunmi at 2018 MAMA
Sunmi at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Sunmi at 2018 MAMA

Tiger JK, Seventeen's Vernon and Yoon Mi Rae perform at 2018 MAMA
Tiger JK, Seventeen's Vernon and Yoon Mi Rae perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Tiger JK, Seventeen's Vernon and Yoon Mi Rae perform at 2018 MAMA

Momoland and Mommy Son perform at 2018 MAMA
Momoland and Mommy Son perform at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Momoland and Mommy Son perform at 2018 MAMA

Angelababy presents an award at 2018 MAMA
Angelababy presents an award at 2018 MAMA
17 Dec 2018

Angelababy presents an award at 2018 MAMA

Watch the 2018 MAMA in Hong Kong on Toggle here.

Related:
2018 MAMA red carpet in Hong Kong
Our favourite moments from past Mnet Asian Music Awards shows

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