The KMAs are just so much fun! Although there are things to question about the awards themselves and all that goes around they always help me find new interesting music that I may otherwise have overlooked–particularly in genres I’m otherwise not keen on exploring on my own. Last week Sangha shared her thoughts on who she thought would win this year and now it’s time for me to share my predictions. If you wish to do the same, please answer IROK’s readers’ predictions poll!
Album of the Year
I’ll admit to not being at all familiar with Hwaji prior to the announcement of the nominees this year, but was not particularly surprised at seeing any of the other albums nominated. And although I can admire the melodies from 9 and the Numbers, overall I don’t see the album being as strong as the band’s first. The remaining 3, however, are all amazing.
Personal Pick: The Secret EP from Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon is absolutely gorgeous and I’ve played it on repeat for full days and nights. Danpyunsun and the Sailors‘ Animal was an exceptional, fresh presentation of both old and new material. But Loro’s W.A.N.D.Y went above and beyond what I had expected of them even after being a fan since pre-Pax times. It somehow manages to be a cohesive album even though it offers plenty of variety in and complexity of sound. If that doesn’t deserve an award I don’t know what would.
Prediction: Loro’s W.A.N.D.Y.
Song of the Year
As opposed to the albums, I’m not overly enthusiastic for any of the songs running for Song of the Year. “어릴 때” was the most surprising nomination to me as it is unusual to see that kind of singer-songwriter tunes get any attention at all in these awards, but it is a lovely song and I’m very happy to see Kwon Tree nominated.
Personal Pick: I found it to be the weakest track on the EP, but that doesn’t mean that Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon’s “Secret” isn’t anyway a great song.
Prediction: Soyou X Junggigo‘s “Some”. I find it quite uninteresting myself, but as history would have it pop songs are more likely to win this category and none of the others has done better popularity-wise with the general populace.
Artist of the Year
I’m quite curious as to what the criteria to get nominated for this award really are. In another time I would’ve thought that Seo Tai Ji would’ve been a given, but as much as it saddens me (after all it was thanks to Seo Taiji & Boys that I first became acquainted with Korean rock) he just doesn’t seem all that relevant anymore. Lee Seung Hwan I don’t mind, but he didn’t impress me more in 2014 than he’s done in any previous years. And I don’t listen to enough jazz to have an opinion about Wonsool Lee.
Personal Pick: Danpyunsun and the Sailors. Because they are awesome.
Prediction: Danpyunsun and the Sailors. I am very, very tempted to say Gonne Choi since she had a pretty awesome 2014 (including playing at Glastonbury, which is a really big deal), but so far the only females to have won Artist of the Year have been classified as Pop and Gonne Choi is competing in the Folk categories this year. Then Folk is a new category, so maybe she could win anyway? Even so Danpyunsun and the Sailors feels like the safer choice.
Rookie of the Year
I wish I knew why Danpyunsun and the Sailors got a nomination for Artist of the Year while Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon ended up nominated for Rookie of the Year when I would consider both equally good candidates for either category.
Personal Pick: Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon. Because I love, love, love Secret. And they are such interesting people.
Prediction: Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon. The Rookie of the Year has almost exclusively been either Rock or Modern Rock, but this year it’s either Pop, Folk or R&B & Soul of which Folk aligns slightly better with the previously dominating genres. Further, the Rookie of the Year has almost exclusively not been solo artists so Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon appears to be the only likely choice for this one.
Best Rock Album
All excellent nominations, though I sort of question why Danpyunsun and the Sailors are nominated for Rock when the Folk category was introduced this year?
Personal Pick: Hollow Jan‘s Day Off. I’ll admit I’m ridiculously biased, but it would be absolutely awesome to see this album win. Even though I still can’t really listen to what little I contributed.
Prediction: Danpyunsun and the Sailors’ Animal. Since it’s the only album in the bunch also nominated for Album of the Year.
Best Rock Song
While the rock albums all felt like given nominations, I’m not feeling the rock songs as much. All are good, of course, but my list would’ve looked quite different.
Personal Pick: Hollow Jan’s “Day 3”. There are other songs on the album that I like more (for example “Day 2” and “Day 7“)
Prediction: Kiha & The Faces‘ “Human Mind”, because Kiha & The Faces win more often than not whenever nominated for anything. Guckkasten does have a perfect track record though…
Best Modern Rock Album
I’m so very happy to see Glittering Blackness, Fall on this list. While there had been post-rock-like Korean bands before, Glittering Blackness, Fall was the first “proper” Korean post-rock band that I came across and they’ve delivered nothing but quality since. If it hadn’t been for Loro’s…
Personal Pick: Loro’s W.A.N.D.Y. See Album of the Year above.
Prediction: Loro’s W.A.N.D.Y
Best Modern Rock Song
This is usually one of my favorite award categories with very solid nominees, but I’m not feeling it as much this year. Why couldn’t Glittering Blackness, Fall have been nominated here? Any of the new versions of “3” would’ve done.
Personal Pick: Loro’s “U”. Gorgeous song. Absolutely gorgeous.
Prediction: 9 and the Numbers’ “숨바꼭질 (Hider and Seeker)”. Because it’s the only song also nominated for Song of the Year.
Best Folk Album
Several lovely choices here! I’m so glad there’s a separate folk category now since the “folk” artists never seemed to stand much of a chance when nominated in the pop or modern rock categories before.
Personal Pick: Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon – Secret. Because I can just barely stop listening once I’ve started.
Prediction: Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon – Secret. Because I expect the judges will find this EP even sexier than I do.
Best Folk Song
More loveliness! I hope the folk category will prove enough of a success to remain also next year.
Personal Pick: Kwon Tree’s “어릴 때”. I realize that I sort of contradict myself by picking “Secret” over “어릴 때” for Song of the year and then picking “어릴 때” over “Secret” for Best Folk Song, but let’s put that down to different criteria when picking the winner for different categories. “Secret” is an excellent song that works on so many levels, but I somehow feel that “어릴 때” is more folk. And it’s such a beautiful song. And I really do want Kwon Tree to win something this year.
Prediction: Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon’s “Secret”. Because it’s an excellent song.
Best Pop Album
I know I should pay more attention to pop albums, but in times when I don’t really listen to as much music as I would like to the pop oriented releases are the first to disappear from the list of things I would’ve otherwise listened to. As such I’m mostly just familiar with these releases by name.
Personal Pick: Akdong Musician‘s Play. I hadn’t gotten around to it until the KMA nominations were announced this year, but listening through the album a few times the past week I finally realized what all the fuzz was about. It’s a solid, well-produced album.
Prediction: Akdong Musician’s Play.
Best Pop Song
While I might not do so well with the pop albums, I’d like to think I keep better track of pop songs. Even so I listened to most of these songs only after the nominees had been announced… “Some” excluded, as it’s been pretty much impossible to avoid. A nice enough selection of tunes, but I’m so disappointed Jun Bum Sun and the Yangbans‘ “설레임 (The Seven Year Itch)” is not on the list! I would’ve had the album nominated, too, but for such a perfect song to be overlooked just isn’t right.
Personal Pick: I’m really into HA:TFELT‘s “Ain’t Nobody” and can’t help but wonder why it didn’t make a bigger splash when it came out–it sounds like a potential international superhit to me. Yet there’s something about Akdong Musician’s “Melted” that with the harmonizing and its melody in minor key makes me like it even more.
Prediction: Soyou X Junggigo’s “Some”. Since I already have it down for Song of the Year.
Best Dance & Electronic Album
Plenty of interesting choices this year! There’s usually one idol group nominated every year, but I was quite surprised to see that the choice fell on Infinite this year.
Personal Pick: saram12saram‘s Raindrop Cloud Typhoon and the Sun.
Prediction: Idiotape‘s Tours. Because they already won once with 11111101 and Tours is even better.
Best Dance & Electronic Song
I wish saram12saram had been nominated with a song as well, because that would’ve made the choice so much easier. Very nice to see Kotin nominated instead. But where is Hitchhiker‘s “11“?
Personal Pick: Juuno‘s “Poly Evil”. Smooth dance track with vocals from Zitten–I’m in!
Prediction: Yoonsang may have his song nominated for Song of the Year, but the more commercial the better is what this category has shown in the past so I’m gonna go with Seo Tai Ji‘s “Christmalo.win” as the more likely winner.
Best Rap & Hip Hop Album
I’m so uneducated when it comes to current Korean hip hop! The only album in the bunch that I’ve listened to is Hwaji’s, and that’s only because I downloaded it while writing the Album of the Year post. I couldn’t possibly make an informed choice for this category.
Prediction: Hwaji’s Eat. That Album of the Year nomination must count for something.
Best Rap & Hip Hop Song
I second Sangha’s request for some Kirin. At the very least a song nomination would’ve been in order. Maybe next year.
Personal Pick: I usually prefer Epik High when they do their mainstream thing, but “Born Hater” works surprisingly well for me.
Prediction: Beenzino‘s “Dali, Van, Picasso”. Because popularity goes surprisingly far in this category.
Best R&B & Soul Album
If I’m uneducated about rap and hip hop, I’m even worse off when it comes to R&B & Soul. Out of all the genres represented in the KMAs, R&B & Soul are those I’m the least likely to listen to.
Prediction: Crush‘s Crush On You. It was such a highly anticipated release and from what I’ve gathered (without actually listening to it myself) it delivered in all aspects, even exceeding some expectations.
Best R&B & Soul Song
I should’ve gotten over it by now, but every time I come across Zion.T‘s “양화대교” on YouTube I get all excited thinking that he has covered the excellent song with the same name from Theatre 8. So far I have not come across any such instance.
Personal Pick: I thought for sure that Taeyang‘s “Eyes, Nose, Lips” would get a nomination for Song of the Year since it has seemed like such an iconic song for 2014. I’m not usually into R&B or Soul, but this song anyway managed to get me hooked.
Prediction: Taeyang’s “Eyes, Nose, Lips”.
Best Jazz Album
Surprisingly enough I’ve found myself warming up towards jazz in the past year. Not sure whether it’s age, or just more exposure that has made it–probably a combination. But even so I didn’t get around to listening to any of these albums.
Prediction: Trio Closer‘s Coexistence. Because Wonsool Lee is up for Artist of the Year, yet I could barely find anything on his solo album and all the more about this particular trio which he is part of.
Best Crossover Album
I was quite surprised not to find Koh Sangji‘s Maycgre 1.0 nominated after it had showed up on several critics’ year-end lists, but it seems this year the crossover category is all about traditional Korean music hybrids.
Personal Pick: Han Seung Seok & Jung Jaeil‘s 바리abandoned. I still didn’t get my copy of the album, but what I have heard is so amazing I couldn’t well imagine I’d pick any other album in this category over it anyway. The Park Woojae Geomungo Extension would’ve been a decent replacement otherwise.
Prediction: Han Seung Seok & Jung Jaeil’s 바리abandoned.
Best Jazz & Crossover Performance
Unfortunately didn’t get around to listening to any of these albums either so I couldn’t make a pick of my own.
Prediction: Se:um’s Se:um. I don’t think the judges can resist the combination of samulnori, gayageum and free jazz.