Although I’ve been listening to Korean indie bands and singers since discovering Korean music back in 2009, I was only able to give my outmost attention to its musicians back in late 2014 with my discovery of Guckkasten, Neon Bunny and Life And Time. I’ve been through 3 years of my support and it is my first time to predict any of the possible winners for the Korean Music Awards. As I am not a full listener to the other genres, I will focus mainly on Hiphop, R&B, Electronic and Modern Rock as those are my main point interests. But I will still give my two cents on other categories.
Album of the Year
Personally, I think there are other albums this year that have done wonderfully, but judging the list released, I somehow still agree. Although not met with a lot of public attention, I was happy still to see The Black Skirts’ Team Baby on it, a testament to his long-lasting influence.
Personal Pick: Being a fan of Hyukoh, I really wish 23 would win. The band has definitely stepped up their game with this album.
Prediction: I would go with IU’s Palette. I am not a big fan of her but I listen to her music. And I must say, each and every song on this album was worth every minute of listening.
Song of The Year
Personally, I find this category saddening. I did not expect a lot of pop songs to get into this category. However, I must agree that Woo Wonjae’s “We Are” deserves a spot in this. I am yet to listen to any Red Velvet song but I am aware of the popularity they are getting. Same with BTS.
Personal Pick: It would be nice to see Woo Wonjae winning this award. I’ve seen comments on the song before saying how they both loved the song production, and Woo Wonjae’s verses that talk about reality. If those factors come into play, then we see a win here.
Prediction: Judging on the popularity BTS has received not just in Korea, but also overseas, a win for “DNA” is quite possible.
Artist of the Year
Somehow, unlike last year, I’ve felt as though not a lot of indie artists have been actively showcasing their music, or throwing shows and concerts here and there. So I was not surprised when I saw names I didn’t expect to be on this list. I am yet to listen to Kim Mokin though.
Personal Pick: I personally would pick Hyukoh for this. They had it all with them: an album, new songs, international shows, a TV show, and endorsements. It is most likely.
Prediction: Although I believe that the KMA’s is the only fair award-giving body in Korea, judging all on music and talent, I think the award is more geared towards IU. If not her, then it’s BTS.
Rookie of The Year
Seeing this list has made me jump in joy. For one, all of them are artists I have followed since their debut. I was hoping to see WETTER here but I also believed that they haven’t shown much of their color to actually be here. And although there was no proper promotion, Rad Museum surprised us that a graphic artist such as him can produce such quality music.
Personal Pick: I would go between SeSoNeon and Shin Haegyeong. Musically, Shin Haegyeong has an edge compared to SeSoNeon, being able to produce his own music and continually show his hand in experimenting with new sounds. But backed up by Silica Gel‘s Kim Hanjoo, SeSoNeon still has a lot to learn with the production side of music. However, you cannot deny that their delivery, their musicality, and not to mention Hwang Soyoon‘s alluring vocal quality, makes them also a good pick for this award.
Prediction: SeSoNeon definitely, with no other questions.
Best Rock Album
Bless this award and all the nominations. However, I was surprised to see SeSoNeon’s 여름깃 (Summer Plumage) in this category thinking that it somehow geared more towards modern rock than rock in general. But I don’t know.
Personal Pick: Being a fan of Raw By Peppers, I wish they get this award. Their first EP 3 was a wave of awesome thoughts and deep post-modern tunes. And Cosmos was something even better than that.
Prediction: I am yet to listen to Magna Fall. If SeSoNeon’s softer vibe comes into consideration, I believe Lowdown30 can win this with B.
Best Rock Song
I have personally never heard of Grancale yet so my prediction can be somewhat biased. However, I totally agree with a nomination going to Asian Chairshot and ABTB. Both bands were recognized in last year’s awards and hopefully, either of them gets a win this year.
Personal Pick: I would go with Asian Chairshot’s “산 새 그리고 나 (Mountain, bird and me)”. I play this at home and even my brothers like it. That’s an instant gold for me.
Prediction: I definitely see SeSoNeon winning this. Although my personal favorite song of theirs is “A Long Dream”, “The Wave” definitely wanders through a new realm of rock music.
Best Modern Rock Album
First, I am happy to see In the endless zanhyang we are being nominated again this year. However, as an album, 우연의 연속에 의한 필연 (Inevitability Under Consecutive Coincidence) didn’t give me that much excitement. 3rd Line Butterfly’s Divided By Zero gave me that though but… Wasn’t this album released in late 2016? Or am I mistaken?
Personal Pick: It’s hard to choose between The Black Skirts and Hyukoh for this, being that they belong to the same label. However, I believe Hyukoh deserves this award more, with all songs perfectly fitted into the album.
Prediction: Again, a Hyukoh award is due.
Best Modern Rock Song
This is actually the first time I’ve heard of Doe Jaemyoung so I can’t really say. However, I’m glad that ADOY‘s “Grace” got a nomination. Their debut with Catnip was a delightful walk with their music, and just like SeSoNeon, gave them much attention.
Personal Pick: I would really like ADOY to win this. If not them, I would go with Shin Haegyeong. It doesn’t even help since both artists are friends.
Prediction: Hyukoh’s “Tomboy” has a big chance of winning this, but then again, there’s ADOY.
Best Metal & Hardcore Album
Surprisingly, even though my readers know me of a hiphop person, I listen to metal music, too. And seeing the nominations for this award gave me a real big smile. I’ve listened to all of these bands and it’s really hard to judge.
Personal Pick: I only started to listen to End These Days with their album Ambivalence, but I have been able to watch their live videos prior to that. Ambivalence traps you into that deep abyss of metal rock but simultaneously catapults you into a new feeling of energy. And for that I want them to win.
Prediction: I’ve listened to ABYSS’ Recrowned and there’s just that feeling of contentment. Nothing failed. And there’s a big chance they win this.
Best Pop Album
Sadly, I have not listened to a lot of pop singers/groups in the past 3 years. I gave up with it. However, judging everything I see on my feeds about KPOP, I know for a fact that IU, Taemin and Taeyeon deserve a place in this nomination.
Personal Pick: I usually pick winners for album awards based on the overall album content, from music, lyrics and concept. I personally want Taemin to win this, with his concept evident in every song and performance.
Prediction: In the back of my mind, Taeyeon has a chance at this. However, there’s IU. And I believe she did better this year. Palette was really just THAT album.
Best Pop Song
Okay. I have never listened to NCT or Red Velvet so it’s hard to judge. And of course there’s BTS who is literally just everywhere.
Personal Pick: I personally think Sunmi can win this. I listened to “Gashina”, over 15 times the first time I played it on Youtube. It was addicting.
Prediction: My prediction once again goes to BTS. I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to win all of the categories they’re in (if IU just wasn’t there, though).
Best Dance & Electronic Album
First and foremost, I LOVE ALL OF THOSE NOMINATED. I feel proud to see YESEO with all of these names, a female rookie I adore so much. Simply, Kirara and Idiotape cannot be forgotten.
Personal Pick: IDIOTAPE. I can simply say that, “IDIOTAPE can do no wrong”. And Dystopian definitely didn’t disappoint.
Prediction: IDIOTAPE has a chance to win this. But I’m unsure seeing that Kirara’s KM is on the list, too. Her album was a masterpiece with a more energetic vibe compared to Dystopia who wondered through the concept of “crazy”.
Best Dance & Electronic Song
Once again, I am very much happy about these nominations. Seeing a Korean DJ on the list was also a joy, with Raiden‘s “Heart Of Steel”. I am also happy to see CIFIKA‘s “My Ego” here. Her first EP Intelligentsia was a gem not a lot of people have listened to yet. However, I was somehow hoping to see Xin Seha‘s 7f, the Void nominated, a personal favorite of mine.
Personal Pick: I wished CIFIKA and YESEO win this. While CIFIKA goes on hard, YESEO and her music is more soft and melodic.
Prediction: I am putting my bets all on CIFIKA’s “My Ego”.
Best Rap & Hip-Hop Album
And here we go with the hiphop categories, my specialty. As a Beasts And Natives Alike fan, seeing Kim Ximya and D.Sanders collaboration EP Moonshine gives me so much pride. I was reluctant to see this EP here because of its last quarter release in 2017. Legitgoons has always been consistent with their music and concepts and each crew album they release is a feat for them. Junk Drunk Love is once again a manifestation of their individual talents as rappers and producers, and also their witty concept as a crew. Sadly, I wanted to see Code Kunst‘s Muggle’s Mansion here, too.
Personal Pick: I think Moonshine has a great chance to win this, judging with its pure hiphop music backing up with a rapper such as Kim Ximya. However, I also believe FANA has a chance on this. There’s a reason he is a mentor and great rapper, and he manifested that through FANACONDA.
Prediction: Musically, I believe Viann and Khundi Panda‘s 재건축 (Reconstruction). Viann is a very talented producer and DJ. The sounds to the album was very experimental, but gloriously created, each and every track. And although Khundi Panda isn’t my favorite rapper, he effortlessly matched Viann’s beats. And I know I’m not the only one saying this about the album.
Best Rap & Hip-Hop Song
Jazzyfact can do no wrong. All songs on the list are actually very memorable both in impact and musicality. But I do feel as though Chaboom has a short hand here, judging that he didn’t quite promote his material very thoroughly.
Personal Pick: If it’s music, I definitely want Kim Ximya’s “Career High” to win, clearly using classic hiphop sounds and for a fan of the genre, that is sometimes all you’ll need to appreciate a song.
Prediction: I only have top two: “Career High” and “시차 (We Are)”.
Best R&B & Soul Album
There were a lot of R&B albums that were released this year. I was somehow wishing to see Nieah in this list but she didn’t make it. However, I was pretty glad to see both Rad Museum and Offonoff nominated, both hailing from the same crew.
Personal Pick: I actually wish Offonoff would win this. These two started off doing weird song samples for their Soundcloud tracks and eventually created masterpieces such as “Dance”, “Gold” and “Photograph” for this album. They deserve the recognition.
Prediction: I highly think Hippy was Gipsy‘s 나무 (Tree) can win this. JFlo, who originally worked with hiphop artists, has had a great control of the production of each beautifully crafted song.
Best R&B & Soul Song
Greatly, although I believe all of the songs are worthy, I was hoping to see Sumin nominated, too, with any song of hers. And although I love Samuel Seo, I feel as though the list could have been better without “Off You”. I like the song, but the impact just wasn’t evident.
Personal Pick: And Horim’s “Temp-Ton” has received much praise from other musicians that I believe it deserves a win, too.
Prediction: Peejay’s “나비야 (NA B YA)” has a great chance of winning, I believe. I mean… How can you go wrong if it’s Zion.T singing your song?!
I’ll pass with any predictions for the last four categories as I haven’t heard any of them. I sort of am very concentrated with Korean hiphop, and even though I listen to numerous indie musicians, I still haven’t quite gotten into folk and the jazz genres.