KMA2016: Rookie of the Year

The nominees for the 13th Korean Music Awards were announced at the end of January. The winners will be announced on Monday, February 29th, but before then it is time to complete the series where nominees for the various “total” awards are introduced (Album, Song, Artist) with a look at the nominees for Rookie of the Year.

Flash Flood Darlings

Electronica act Flash Flood Darlings, an alias for producer Jay Song, started to gain some buzz with the release of his first digital single in December 2014. A few months later, February 2015, first full-length album Vorab and Tesoro was released. The album tells an autobiographical coming of age story, starting with Jay Song growing up in New Zealand and realising that he’s gay. A remix version of Vorab and Tesoro was released in October 2015. In addition to working on Flash Flood Darlings, Jay Song is a member of electropop group Floating Island.

Flash Flood Darlings’ “별 (Byeol)” is nominated for Best Dance & Electronic Song.

Gongjoong Doduk

Gongjoong Doduk surfaced in February 2015 with a self-titled debut album. Under the moniker Hyoo he had already debuted once before–in 2012 with digital EP 화원 (Hwa-One). At the time his music style was somewhat experimental electronic music, but as Gongjoong Doduk he has instead ventured into the realm of folktronica with what he himself describes as “a handful of songs written with an acoustic guitar and sent through a cheap tape with the aid of an old friend and a friend of a friend”.

Gongjoong Doduk’s 공중도덕 is nominated for Best Modern Rock Album.

Billy Carter

Blues rock band Billy Carter started out as an acoustic female duo in 2011. After busking in England for a while, the two returned to Korea where in 2014 Billy Carter expanded with a drummer to become the band it is today. The trio’s first official self-titled EP, now referred to as The Red, was released in June 2015. Soon thereafter Billy Carter made it to the top 6 of K-Rookies 2015. In January 2016 the band returned with acoustic EP The Yellow.

Billy Carter’s The Red is nominated for Best Rock Album whereas EP lead track “침묵 (Silence)” is nominated for Best Rock Song.


Synth pop artist OOHYO debuted with the release of EP 소녀감성 (Girl Sense). The released immediately earned her a following among Korean indie music fans, but her audience grew considerably after “Vineyard” was featured on Jessica & Krystal. OOHYO’s first full-length album 어드벤처 (Adventure) was released in beginning of October 2015, landing at #24 on Gaon’s Korean album chart for the same week. OOHYO moved from Seoul to London, UK, beginning of February and has previously spent several years in the US.

OOHYO’s 어드벤처 (Adventure) is nominated for Best Dance & Electronic Album whereas album lead track “K-Drama (K드라마)” is nominated for Best Dance & Electronic Song.


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 and placed #13 on Gaon’s Korean album chart for that week. 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 Artist 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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