KMA2016: Artist of the Year

The nominees for the 13th Korean Music Awards were announced at the end of January. After going over the nominees for Album of the Year and Song of the Year in the weeks prior, this week it’s time to follow up with the nominees for Song Artist of the Year.


Boy band BIGBANG debuted on YG Entertainment in 2006 with members including G-Dragon, T.O.P, and Taeyang. The group has since become one of Korea’s biggest boy bands, claiming success also in Japan. After a 3 year hiatus the idol group made a comeback in 2015 with a series of digital singles spelling M A D E. The long-awaited return was very well received with BIGBANG’s “Bang Bang Bang” claiming the top spot of all of Gaon’s digital charts at during the year.

BIGBANG’s “Bae Bae” is nominated for Song of the Year and Best Rap & Hip Hop Song while “Loser” is nominated for Best Pop Song. BIGBANG is nominated for Artist of the Year. BIGBANG was previously nominated for Best R&B & Soul Song with “눈물뿐인 바보 (A Fool of Tears)” in 2008.

Kim Oki

Jazz saxophonist Kim Oki, real name Kim Boo Sik, surfaced in 2013 with debut album Cherubim’s Wrath–recorded by the seaside in Okinawa, Japan. Since then he’s collaborated with artists from the Hongdae indie scene as well as played and recorded as a member of a couple of trios: 2 albums with Electro Hustler in 2014 and 1 album with free-jazz act Avant Trio in 2015. Kim Oki’s sophomore album 격동의 시간여행 was released in December 2014 with his saxophone play supported by guitarist Jun Kim, bassist Kim Younchul, and drummer Seo Kyung Su.

Kim Oki’s 격동의 시간여행 is nominated for Best Jazz & Crossover Performance. Kim Oki is also featured on Lowdown 30‘s “Hotter (더뜨겁게)”, nominated for Best Rock Song, and through Avant Trio is also nominated for Best Jazz Album with Blue Suns. Kim Oki was nominated for Rookie of the Year in 2014. The same year he won Best Jazz & Crossover Performance with Cherubim’s Wrath, which was also nominated for Best Jazz Album.


Rapper and producer Deepflow released his debut album, Vismajor, in 2007. He’d been featured on tracks of other rappers already years before and have remained busy since. Deepflow started label VMC short for Vismajor Company, together with other members of Vismajor Crew. His first own album to be released on the imprint was 양화 (Yanghwa), Deepflow’s third full-length album, in April 2015.

Deepflow’s 양화 (Yanghwa) is nominated for Album of the Year and Best Rap & Hip-Hop Album whereas his “작두 (Cut Cut Cut)” is nominated for Song of the Year and Best Rap & Hip-Hop Song. Deepflow was previously nominated for Best Rap & Hip-Hop Album with Heavy Deep and Best Rap & Hip Hop Song with “Welcome To The Club” in 2012.


Metal band Method formed in 2002 and released debut album Survival Ov The Fittest four years later, claiming to bring Korea a “new wave ov trash metal“. The band has since toured Asia and received critical acclaim for later albums. Method’s fourth full-length album Abstract was released in September 2015, two years after EP Warrior’s Way.

Method’s Abstract is nominated for Album of the Year and Best Heaviness Album. Method was previously nominated for Best Rock Album in 2010 and 2013 with Spiritual Reinforcement and The Constant respectively.

Park Je Chun

Percussionist Park Je Chun has been active since the 80s. Inspired by free jazz saxophonist Kang Tae Hwan he’s developed a passion for improvisation. In 1999 he began performing together with pianist Miyeon and the two have been operating in the realm of jazz, contemporary classical music and traditional Korean music. Although the duo has been touring the world and been active in various other projects together, Park Je Chun has also continued to be active on his own. Two new albums of his were released in 2015: Park Je Chun’s Korean Grip, intended to evolve traditional Korean rhythms; and Records & Recordings for which he teamed up with pansori drummer Kim Cheong Man. In 2009 Park Je Chun received the Achievement Award at the 10th Ulsan Jazz Festival. He has since become the Executive Director for the Jeonju International SORI Festival.

Park Je Chun’s Park Je Chun’s Korean Grip and his joint album with Kim Cheong Man, Records And Recordings, are both nominated for both Best Crossover Album and Best Jazz & Crossover Performance. Park Je Chun won both Best Crossover Album and Best Jazz & Crossover Performance in 2009 for his work on Dreams from the Ancestor together with Miyeon. A year prior, in 2008, he won Performance of the Year as part of Yesanjok.


Indie rock band Hyukoh came to happen in 2014. Leader Oh Hyuk had recorded 20 with session players as his debut solo EP, but realized he needed a band and set out to recruit. During spring 2015 Oh Hyuk teamed up with hip-hop producer Primary for EP Lucky You! leading to increased hype around Hyukoh as a whole. Hyukoh’s second EP 22 was released end of May with interest in the band continuing to rise. As Hyukoh participated on popular Korean TV show Infinite Challenge in preparation for the show’s annual concert, the band’s popularity exploded with songs from both EPs climbing the charts as a result–some remaining till the end of the year. In July 2015 Hyukoh became the first band signed to YG Entertainment sub-label HIGHGRND.

Hyukoh is also nominated for Rookie of the Year. Hyukoh’s 22 is nominated for Best Modern Rock Album whereas “와리가리 (Comes And Goes)” is nominated for Song of the Year and Best Modern Rock Song.

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