After a month of KMA focus here on Indieful ROK, it’s finally become time for my to share my own predictions. Lots of great albums and songs nominated this year, but then 2015 was also a really strong year for Korean music in general.
Album of the Year
Although my own Album of the Year list would look rather different, I couldn’t say I was very surprised to see any of the picks for this year. All of the albums nominated had been picked by Korean music bloggers that cover a much wider range of music than I have managed.
Personal Pick: Kim Sawol! I actually haven’t listened to my copy of the album yet (it’s waiting for me at my mother-in-laws) but from what little I have heard it is likely to be rather amazing. And I really, really like Kim Sawol.
Prediction: Typically Album of the Year will go to an album that is also nominated for Best Modern Rock, but with 2x Heaviness and 2x Hip-Hop this year it should either be Rock or Folk. I’m thinking Folk is closer to Modern Rock, so this should go to Kim Sawol.
Song of the Year
I was so surprised to find JYP’s “Who’s Your Mama?” nominated in this category. I really disliked the song (and the video even more so) when it came out so my immediate thought was that the committee responsible was now clearly too full of old men to function well. But after listening through my playlist with the nominees a few times I realized that it does have some rather strong qualities music-wise.
Personal Pick: Kim Sawol’s “Bedside” is the only song nominated that I genuinely care for. I was extra glad to see it nominated as I had picked it as the Korean Music Alliance Pact song of January.
Prediction: This category usually goes to a Pop number, but I really can’t imagine JYP winning this regardless. I’d say this one goes to BIGBANG‘s “Bae Bae“.
Artist of the Year
Tough category! I had expected to see Kim Sawol nominated here as well, but all that did get nominated seem like worthy candidates. Somewhat surprised to see 2 jazz names on the list though.
Personal Pick: 2015 was the year of Hyukoh. No other nominee is more deserving of this win.
Prediction: This one usually goes to artists nominated either for Pop or Rock with independent artists being the more likely winners. Cannot be any other than Hyukoh.
Rookie of the Year
Like Jung I disagree with artists that released EPs before December 2014 being considered rookies in 2015. I get the feeling that Hyukoh and OOHYO were both nominated now to compensate for missing them the year prior when, in spite of solid releases, their respective names were not as well known as they are today.
Personal Pick: This category is usually the most difficult to pick for me. I’m torn between Flash Flood Darlings and Billy Carter, but though I think Billy Carter did better live it is Flash Flood Darlings I have listened to more on record… Flash Flood Darlings. Because the Korean music scene really needs him.
Prediction: Rookie winners were usually nominated also for one of the Rock or Modern Rock categories leaving Hyukoh, Billy Carter, and Gongjoong Doduk. However nobody has ever won both Artist of the Year and Rookie of the Year the same year, so that means Hyukoh is out. And Gongjoong Doduk maybe has too many electronic elements to fit the bill. Billy Carter!
Best Heaviness Album
I was so glad to see this category introduced! It’s been my impression that the Korean hardcore scene and metal scene were both stronger some/many years back, but I would love for that to change. Recognition at Korea’s best music awards won’t hurt.
Personal Pick: It’s down to Method and The Veggers for me. Maybe a tiny bit more Method than The Veggers.
Prediction: With both Method and Black Medicine having albums on the Album of the Year list one of those will likely win. Black Medicine did do better when the music bloggers put together their year-end lists, but I’m anyway gonna with Method here. It’s Method’s third nomination and it’s about time it leads to an actual award.
Best Rock Album
Personal Pick: Eastern Sidkick! Eastern Sidekick! Eastern Sidekick! Total Reflection was my album of the year.
Prediction: Gotta be The Monotones with that nomination also for Album of the Year.
Best Rock Song
Personal Pick: While I thought Eastern Sidekick’s Total Reflection album was really solid with pretty much nothing but great songs, there were probably 5 tracks I liked more than “Digger“. This one goes to Lowdown 30 for me. I didn’t really know what to think when I first heard it, but it grew on me quickly. An outstanding display of musicianship from both Lowdown 30 and the featured Kim Oki.
Prediction: This one is very tricky. Lowdown 30 should do well based on the band’s standing on the scene, but at the same time I really want to believe in Billy Carter. Only Lowdown 30 has Kim Oki though. I’ll go with Lowdown 30.
Best Modern Rock Album
Personal Pick: Electron Sheep was a very welcome comeback for me in 2015. Rather different from what I had expected, but intriguing all the way through. Quite brilliant, actually.
Prediction: Gongjoong Doduk. Because that’s what the critics said.
Best Modern Rock Song
Personal Pick: Goonam‘s “Young People” had the perfect Goonam style groove. It makes me feel at ease in a very joyful manner.
Best Folk Album
Personal Pick: Kim Sawol! Because it’s Kim Sawol.
Prediction: Kim Sawol. Because the album is also nominated for Album of the Year.
Best Folk Song
Personal Pick: Kim Sawol! Because it’s Kim Sawol.
Prediction: Kim Sawol. Because the song is also nominated for Song of the Year.
Best Pop Album
Personal Pick: Fromm. Her Moonbow was a nice surprise for me. Something like a more refined version of the kind of pop I would expect to hear from female solo artists on Swedish radio.
Prediction: IU. Was there any other album discussed more in 2015?
Best Pop Song
Personal Pick: Sunwoo Jung-A‘s “Springirls” took a bit of getting used to for me, but I’m glad I gave it the chance. Sunwoo Jung-A is one of Korea’s best contemporary songwriters and this song is a perfect example.
Prediction: Even though JYP had his song nominated for Song of the Year I don’t think it’ll win here. Again, I’m guessing BIGBANG instead, albeit another song this time.
Best Dance & Electronic Album
Personal Pick: Trampauline was the most predictable nomination of all in this category. Well deserved, too.
Prediction: It could very well be Trampauline, but f(x) seems like the safer choice.
Best Dance & Electronic Song
Personal Pick: Flash Flood Darlings! I would’ve wanted Vorab and Tesoro nominated for the Album award as well, but I’ll take what I get.
Prediction: This category is usually won by idols, so it’ll have to be f(x) here too.
Best Rap & Hip-Hop Album
Much like other years, I haven’t taken much interest in Korean rap and hip-hop. Can’t say that I have much of a preference here.
Prediction: Should be either E Sens or Deepflow based on the Album of the Year nominations, but Deepflow was the only of the two to also get a nomination for Artist of the Year so that’ll be my guess.
Best Rap & Hip-Hop Song
Personal Pick: While I haven’t been listening to any Korean hip-hop albums from 2015, I did take the time to listen through the nominated songs after they were announced. Huckleberry P‘s “Everest” is the one I like more.
Prediction: Although I’m guessing that BIGBANG will win Song of the Year with “Bae Bae“, it has happened before that the Song of the Year winner does not win the genre category in which it is nominated. As such I’m gonna go ahead and guess that Deepflow grabs this award. It is the more hip-hop track of the two, after all.
Best R&B & Soul Album
To me this is the least interesting category out of all.
Prediction: I’m gonna go ahead and guess Boni since it’s the album in the bunch I’ve heard more about.
Best R&B & Soul Song
Personal Pick: G.Soul was the easier on my ears. Not at all a bad song, actually. I might need to give his entire album a listen after all.
Prediction: Zion.T & Crush. Because both have proven popular at the KMA in previous years.
Best Jazz Album
Yet another category I haven’t paid much attention to, though this year not so much because of lack of interest as lack of time. Haven’t heard enough to be able to pick a favorite for myself, however.
Prediction: I’ve been seeing a lot of positive reviews for Jin Kim, but 2/3 Avant Trio members have won this category before so that’s my bet.
Best Crossover Album
Same thing as with the jazz. Haven’t heard enough to be able to pick a favorite, even though I’ve become more interested in the genre in recent years.
Prediction: Salon d’O did win this last time and should have a strong offering also this tie, but with Park Je Chun nominated for Artist of the Year and 2 albums in this category it’s rather a question of whether Park Je Chun’s drum solo or drum duo will be the winner. I’m gonna go ahead and guess that it’ll be Kim Cheong Man & Park Je Chun together, since that album seems like more fun to listen to.
Best Jazz & Crossover Performance
Prediction: Park Je Chun has won the performance category twice before when playing together with others. He’s also the only artist to have won both Crossover Album and Performance the same year, so my guess is for Kim Cheong Man & Park Je Chun again.