KMA2018: Album of the Year

The nominees for the 15th Korean Music Awards were announced last week. Here’s an introduction to all albums nominated for Album of the Year.

Kang Taegu – bleu

Album cover for Kang Taegu's bleu

Folk musician Kang Taegu has been active since 2011 and put out his first release–a split album with Arles–in 2013. Although Kang Taegu’s name remained unknown to many, his songs were picked up by Superstar K6 contestant Kwak Jin Eon and K-Pop Star 4 contestant Jung Seung Hwan earning at least his music some recognition.

The CD release of Kang Taegu’s first full-length album bleu was planned for mid-November, but due to a pressing error it was delayed and instead came a week after releasing double A-side digital single 그랑블루 / 내 방 가을. The digital release of the album itself did not take place until January 2018. Throughout the album Kang Taegu is supported by Kang Hyein on violin and viola, and she also contributes her voice as chorus. bleu is co-produced, mixed, and mastered by Min Sang Yong from Second Session, who also played drums where needed.

bleu is also nominated for Best Folk Album whereas album title track “그랑블루 (bleu)” is nominated for Best Folk Song.


The Black Skirts – Team Baby

Album cover of The Black Skirts' Team Baby

The Black Skirts entered the Korean indie music scene late 2008 with his first album, introducing a US influenced pop sound that was quickly embraced by his new audience.

Team Baby was released end of May 2017, six years after his sophomore album, leaving fans only the occasional digital single in between of which only “Everything” was eventually included on the album. The Black Skirts’ Team Baby is the love centered first part in a series of three intended to make up his first full-length album.

Team Baby is also nominated for Best Modern Rock Album. The Black Skirts won the Korean Music Award for Best Modern Rock Album in 2010 and has received multiple other nominations in previous years.

  • 2010: Rookie of The Year
  • 2010: Album of the Year – 201
  • 2010: Song of the Year – “좋아해줘”
  • 2010: Best Modern Rock Album201
  • 2010: Best Modern Rock Song – “좋아해줘”
  • 2012: Album of the Year – Don’t You Worry Baby (I’m Only Swimming)
  • 2012: Best Modern Rock Album – Don’t You Worry Baby (I’m Only Swimming)
  • 2012: Best Modern Rock Song – “Everything”
  • 2012: Best Modern Rock Song – “Love Shine”


Kim Mokin – 콜라보 씨의 일일 (A Day in the Life of Mr. X)

Album cover for Kim Mokin's A Day in the Life of Mr. X

Starting out as the guitarist of Cabinet Singalongs, Kim Mokin released his first solo album in 2011. He has since become a beloved singer-songwriter in his own right, respected by critics and musicians alike.

Kim Mokin’s third full-length release 콜라보 씨의 일일 (A Day in the Life of Mr. X) was released late November 2017. It is a concept album described as a black comedy played over 11 songs, inspired by novels such as Ulysseus and Pak Taegun‘s A Day in the Life of Kubo the Novelist. Supporting Kim Mokin’s guitar and voice throuhgout the album are Telefly drummer Oh Hyung-suk, Gipsy & Fish Orchestra bassist Lee Dong Jun, Lady Rocket, and Honggap alongside an array of specially featured artists.

콜라보 씨의 일일 (A Day in the Life of Mr. X) is also nominated for Best Folk Album while album lead track “걷다 보니 (Walking)” is nominated for Best Folk Song. Kim Mokin himself is nominated for Artist of the Year and has an additional nomination for Best Folk Song this year with collaboration track “집에 가자”. His previous nomination in the Korean Music Awards came before the introduction of the Best Folk category.

  • 2014: Best Pop Album – 한 다발의 시선


IU – Palette

Album cover for IU's Palette

IU made her debut at age 15 as a solo singer from Loen Entertainment, in 2008. She has since become one of Korea’s highest-earning celebrities through endorsements and activities both as an actor and variety show host while frequently putting out new music.

IU’s fourth full-length album Palette was released in April 2017. For the release IU herself contributed with songwriting on nearly all tracks while also engaging musicians from a wide spectrum of Korea’s music scene to support her, including idol star G-Dragon, singer-songwriter extraordinaire Sunwoo Jung-A, new indie rock leader OHHYUK, jazz saxophonist Son Sung Jae, and movie score master Byeongwoo Lee with his acoustic guitar.

Palette is also nominated for Best Pop Album whereas album track “밤편지 (Through The Night)” is nominated for both Song of the Year and Best Pop Song. IU herself is nominated for Artist of the Year. IU has previously won the Korean Music Awards Netizens’ Choice for Female Artist in 2012 and 2016 and won both Song of the Year and Best Pop Song in 2012.

  • 2012: Song of the Year – “좋은 날 (Good Day)”
  • 2012: Best Pop Album – Last Fantasy
  • 2012: Best Pop Song – “좋은 날 (Good Day)”
  • 2016: Best Pop Album – CHAT-SHIRE
  • 2016: Best Pop Song – “스물셋 (Twenty-three)”


Hyukoh – 23

Album cover for Hyukoh's 23

After gaining attention in the indie scene, Hyukoh rose to fame during 2015 first through a successful collaboration with hip-hop producer Primary and even more so through appearing on the summer special of popular variety show Infinite Challenge (무한도전).

Following critically acclaimed EP 22 came Hyukoh’s first full-length album 23, released end of April 2017. All songs are written by Hyukoh leader OHHYUK, offering a rock sound lauded as capturing the spirit and attitude of today’s Korean youth.

23 is also nominated for Best Modern Rock Album whereas album lead track “Tomboy” is nominated for both Song of the Year and Best Modern Rock Song. Hyukoh is nominated for Artist of the Year. Hyukoh won both Rookie of the Year and Best Modern Rock Song in 2016 while being nominated in three additional categories.

  • 2016: Artist of the Year
  • 2016: Rookie of the Year
  • 2016: Song of the Year – “와리가리 (Comes And Goes)”
  • 2016: Best Modern Rock Album – 22
  • 2016: Best Modern Rock Song – “와리가리 (Comes And Goes)”

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