The winners of the Korean Music Awards 2012 were announced today and the biggest winner of them all was Chang Kiha & The Faces taking home no less than four out of the five categories where they were nominated. Although most fans of Korean indie music will already be very familiar with Chang Kiha, many may be unfamiliar with a few of the other winners so let’s go through them all.
Album of the Year: Chang Kiha & The Faces – 장기하와 얼굴들
Song of the Year: IU – “좋은 날 (Good Day)”
Musician of the Year: Chang Kiha & The Faces
Rookie of the Year: Bye Bye Badman
We’ll have a reason to return to album, song and musician of the year further down so lets start by having a look at this year’s rookie winner, Bye Bye Badman. The five member band released it’s debut EP in January 2011, but it was their first full-length album Light Beside You released in early November 2011 that warranted them a nomination for this category.
Bye Bye Badman took home Hello Rookie 2011 and ended up second (with 27% of the votes) in the Rookie category of Olleh Music’s Indie Awards for January. The main track off that album, “노랑불빛”, also got them nominated for Best Modern Rock Song in this year’s KMA:
Best Rock Album: Chang Kiha & The Faces – 장기하와 얼굴들
Best Rock Song: Chang Kiha & The Faces – “그렇고 그런 사이”
Not just Best Rock Album but also Album of the Year–from Musician of the Year at that–2011 was undoubtedly a good year for Chang Kiha & The Faces. The self-titled album, released in June 2011, was the second full-length offering from the already popular band and the innovative hand dance video to “그렇고 그런 사이” made their popularity rise further. The very same song was also nominated for Song of the Year, but with four wins I’m guessing Chang Kiha is not all that disappointed anyway. Read Chris’ review of the album here.
Best Modern Rock
Best Modern Rock Album: Yi Sung Yol – Why We Fail
Best Modern Rock Song: Yi Sung Yol – “돌아오지 않아”
Once known as one half of one of Korea’s first indie duos, U&Me Blue, Yi Sung Yol has since launched a successful solo career backed by Fluxus Music. Why We Fail is his third solo album, released in August 2011. “돌아오지 않아” is the album’s main track.
Best Pop Album: Neon Bunny – Seoulight
Best Pop Song: IU – “좋은 날 (Good Day)”
Neon Bunny released her debut album Seoulight in March 2011, produced by none other than Cliff Lin. Equipped with a varied sound set to an electro base she managed to charm many, though apparently not enough so to also pull off winning Rookie of the Year. Her “북극곰” had also gotten her nominated for Best Pop Song. Read Chris’ review of Seoulight here and learn more about Neon Bunny in this mini-interview.
Although yet to reach an age of 20, IU it’s already been two and a half years since she debuted her ‘hybrid-pop’ on mini album Lost and Found. By December 2010 she put out her third mini album, Real, on which “Good Day” was included. A prolific singer since then she’s released yet another mini album as well as a full-length album, the latter nominated for Best Pop Album, though taking home not just Best Pop Song but also Song of the Year it seems “Good Day” has been her strongest song for quite a while. Further illustrating the strength of the song it’ll be promoted in a Japanese version on IU’s first Japanese single, Good Day, scheduled for release in three weeks.
Best Dance & Electronica
Best Dance & Electronic Album: Idiotape – 11111101
Best Dance & Electronic Song: 2NE1 – “내가 제일 잘 나가 (I am the Best)”
Electronic shoegaze trio Idiotape received rave reviews during their North America tour with Seoulsonic 2K11 last spring. Having only released an EP before then, the band released their much anticipated first full-length album on November 11, 2011 (111111). In strong competition it failed to make Album of the Year, but at least Idiotape did not have to leave the awards empty handed. Chris’ review of 11111101 here and learn more about Idiotape in this mini-interview.
One of the most popular idol groups among Korean indie musicians, 2NE1 debuted under YG Entertainment in 2009. Their “I am the Best” was released on a digital single late June 2011 to also be included on 2nd 2NE1 Mini Album a month later. Since then the music video has achieved more than 35 million views on 2NE1’s official YouTube channel.
Best Rap & Hip Hop
Best Rap & Hip Hop Album: Simo & Mood Schula – Simo & Mood Schula
Best Rap & Hip Hop Song: Meta Wreckx – “무까끼하이”
Producer duo Simo & Mood Schula released their first, self-titled album in April 2011. While hip hop-electronica oriented the two also care for soul, funk, new age, jazz and dub.
MC Meta of Garion together with DJ Wreckx, both with over a decade behind them on Korea’s hip hop scene, released a series of digital singles together in 2011. 무까끼하이 Yes Yes Y’all became single #5 and was the last before their first joint album, DJ and MC, was released in September 2011.
Best R&B & Soul
Best R&B & Soul Album: Boni – 1990
Best R&B & Soul Song: Junggigo – “Blind”
Discovered by 015B‘s Jung Seok Won over five years ago, it took till 2010 before Boni released her first EP. Having gotten started she released her second EP, 1990, in December the same year and has since followed with a set of singles.
Junggigo first tried to make himself a name as Cubic, but took an alias closer to his real name before releasing his first single in 2008. Five singles have followed since, with Blind from August being the first out of the three released in 2011.
Best Jazz & Crossover
Best Jazz Album: BG Salon – 습관의 발견 (Repeat, Pause, Play)
Best Crossover Album: Park Ju Won – 슬픔의 피에스타
Best Jazz & Crossover Performance: Youngjoo Song – Tale Of A City
Not Rookie of the Year but BG Salon can at least be proud to claim an album award for their debut effort, released in September 2011. Led by Park Geun Hyuk, formerly of Chang Keeho Band, the quartet also includes jazz and blues guitarist Charlie Jung, jazz pianist SC Yun, and former Dr. Reggae bassist Choi Eun Chang.
Guitarist Park Ju Won won Best Crossover Album already in 2010 for his debut album 집시의 시간. Since then he’s been featured by a number of various artist, also spotted as the occasional guest guitarist on hit music show I Am A Singer (나는 가수다). The ‘gypsy guitar magician’ return with his second solo album, 슬픔의 피에스타 (Sad Fiesta), in November 2011.
While Tale of a City failed to bring Youngjoo Song and award for Best Jazz Album, it did succeed in gaining her an award for her performance. Previously also going under the name Juju Song she has released a total of eight albums, with Tale of a City from September 2011 counting as her fifth full-length.
Best Film & TV Music
Best Film & TV Music: Late Autumn (만추)
Late Autumn or Manchu is an international romantic melodrama directed by Kim Tae Yong and starring Hyun Bin. The movie’s score was written by Cho Sung Woo and the soundtrack also included a few songs featuring last year’s Best Crossover Album winner La Ventana. The movie opened in February 2011 and the same month came a digital single with Clazziquai‘s Alex singing “되돌릴 수 있다면”. The full soundtrack was released in March 2011.
Committee’s Choice: Dream Factory (꿈의 공장) & Cort and Cor-tek workers
Special Merit Price: Lee Pan Geun
Dream Factory is a film made by Kim Sung Kyun about the workers of Cor-Tek, making Cort Guitars. The documentary chronicles the workers struggling after a factory abruptly shut down following a decade of alleged mistreatment of factory workers. The price is awarded both the film maker and the Cor-Tek workers.
Lee Pan Geun was a jazz composer and theorist active during Korea’s ‘Dark Ages of Jazz’. Last year the Lee Pan Geun Project, a group of jazz musicians from younger generations, won the Best Jazz & Crossover Performance award for their re-arranged Lee Pan Geun pieces.