September started off what is turning out to be a long string of boy group comebacks, and my tastes are reflected accordingly. I really do try to stay balanced and listen to both girl and boy groups, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always work out. I confess that I spent most of my attention on EXO and BTS: the former because they’re my favorite group, and the latter because I was really impressed with their latest music. However, many groups reminded me that I shouldn’t be forgetting about them either.
Awards season is coming, and the MNET Asian Music Awards (hereafter referred to as MAMA) is kicking things off with a bang! It’s only been two days, and my social media feeds are already filled with people discussing the nominations. As I write this, fans all over the world are diligently trying to get on MNET’s bugging website and vote for their favorites. I’m multifandom, so I’m having a really hard time choosing. Also, my computer seems to hate that site. So I thought I’d do something a little different!
BTS is the group to beat right now. After exploding in popularity last year, they’ve continued to achieve new heights both in their home country and the international K-Pop market. There’s been so much buzz around them lately, from their Billboard award to their associations with popular Western artists like The Chainsmokers. The problem with massive popularity, however, is how quickly it can appear over-hyped. This is especially true in K-Pop, where a fandom’s job is basically to support and promote the group in any way possible.
To be clear, I really like BTS. I even converted my boyfriend into an ARMY (though he’ll never admit it). But I must confess that sometimes I catch myself wondering, “Are they really as amazing as everyone says they are? Are they really on such a different level from other groups?” When you’re constantly exposed to superficial things like memes and fangirl/fanboy posts on Tumblr, it’s easy to forget the skills and savvy that got BTS to where they are today. Luckily, “DNA” is the perfect reminder.
On September 20, digital music platform Soribada hosted their first ever BEST K-MUSIC AWARDS. Eligible songs were from September 2016 to August 2017, with online voting starting in July.
New Korean Wave Producer Award: Iggy Youngbae (I assume for a GFriend song)
New Korean Wave Music Video Award: Zanybros (I’m not sure if they were nominated for a specific MV, but they worked with many of the artists that were there: B.A.P., Mamamoo, GFriend, KNK, Wanna One)
New Korean Wave Music Star Award: Sonamoo and KNK
New Korean Wave OST Award: Ailee, “I Will Go to You Like the First Snow” (Goblin)
New Korean Wave Rookie Award: Pentagon and Wanna One
New Korean Wave Popularity Award: EXO
New Korean Wave Icon Award: Red Velvet
New Korean Wave Trot Award: Tae Jin Ah and Hong Jin Young
New Korean Wave Global Achievement Award: Eru
New Korean Wave Photogenic Award: DIA
New Korean Wave Rising Hot Star Award: WJSN and Wanna One
New Korean Wave Voice Award: Han Dong Geun
New Korean Wave Performance Award: NCT 127 and gugudan
New Korean Wave Artist Award: BTS (not in attendance)
2017 SOBA 11 (aka the Bonsang Prizes): Hwang Chi Yeul, T-ara, BTOB, EXO, Vixx, B.A.P., Mamamoo, Red Velvet, GFriend, Monsta X, Twice
Digital Daesang: Twice
Daesang (grand prize): EXO
I was originally going to do a recap, but there wasn’t all that much to sum up. Groups won awards, gave speeches, and performed their latest hits; there weren’t any special stages or collaborations. And all the artists stayed backstage, so it’s not like I can comment on their reactions to each other. Also, the streaming on V-Live was terrible. There was this weird echo/loop on the audio for the first thirty minutes, and the image kept cutting out or going out of sync. I know it’s a first time show, but those are some serious growing pains.
I’m not sure how much of a big deal these awards are or will be, especially compared to long-standing shows like MAMA, Melon, or Gaon Chart. It’s kind of strange that certain habitual award recipients like BTS, GOT7, BLACKPINK (and/or any YG artist), and Seventeen are nowhere to be seen. (BTS literally just started their comeback and they did send an acceptance speech, but it’s still a little weird) And to be honest, I don’t know what half of those awards mean or what the criteria was for deciding any of them. But I’m really impressed with the diversity of the artists they awarded. They’re mostly all groups big in the last five years, but there’s still a wide variety. And I’m really happy with the attention they gave to all those rookies. They all deserve more recognition, and I’m glad they got it. I’ll be interested to see if Soribada does this again next year and how it will be – hopefully a better streaming experience!
Sources: V-Live, Soompi, Wikipedia
Another month, another group profile! I finished GFriend just in time for their comeback! I’ve also been working on one for a certain extremely popular boy group that’s coming back in less than a week…but I have other things I want to do, so I might put it to the side for a week or two.
I can’t believe we’re already so far into September! I had so many great new blog updates planned, and all of a sudden the month’s halfway through. Where does all the time go???? The good news is that I’ve been working on a lot of different posts over the past couple of weeks, so I’m looking to post a lot in the next couple of weeks. Here’s what’s coming up next (in no particular order):
*A post about the K.A.R.D. fan meeting I went to in London
*A “Favorites” post for August
*The rest of my reviews for August comebacks and debuts. As you might have noticed, I’ve had less and less time to write full in-depth reviews for groups, and sometimes I just don’t have enough to say to merit a whole post. So I decided that I would save writing the long reviews for my favorite groups, and then make one big monthly post to do quick opinions on all the rest.
*Bias appreciation post for September: This is a monthly topic I’ve been waiting to do for a while. It’s just a fun semi-fangirl kind of post where I talk about my bias and the reasons I’ve chosen him or her. If you want a hint of who I picked for this month, I’m thinking of permanently naming this column “That’s Right, My Type.”
*Quizzes: When I was in London to see K.A.R.D., my friend and I basically spent the entire weekend doing K-Pop personality quizzes. It was so much fun, and I thought that would be a fun thing to add to this blog. This one might take a while, but it will be an EXO quiz.
So to sum it up, a lot of EXO related stuff and some other things (XD XD XD)
While there were several newer groups like K.A.R.D. that had strong comebacks, February belonged to the heavy hitters. Red Velvet dominated the first half of the month, while top groups of 2016 BTS and Twice battled it out in the second. Powerhouse Taeyeon ended the month on a high note with a solid album. There was a lot going on, but there was a lot to enjoy.
Last year saw BTS’s meteoric rise to the top, and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere. They smashed all kinds of records with Wings and “Blood Sweat and Tears,” and they continue to do so with their repackage You Never Walk Alone. Their latest comeback is very typical BTS: good music, meaningful lyrics, intricate choreography, intriguing music videos, and plenty to talk about!
Maybe it’s because these songs were released more recently and I haven’t had time to get bored with them, but I feel like a lot of my favorite songs of the year were released in the fall. That is to say, a lot of songs that I would probably put in my Top 10 of 2016. I thought that there were a lot of comebacks in the summer, but I was wrong. There were so many comebacks and so much to listen to! It seems that this has continued into January, and I already have a long list of songs that I really like.
*Note: The month that these songs are listed under refers to the period where I listened to it the most, not the actual release date (since some were released in the final days of the month).
Around this time, I realized that there was no going back: I was officially a fan of K-pop. So I embraced it. I watched even more MVs and variety shows. I got back into dancer mode and started to teach myself choreography from various dance practices (girl groups only so far). And I went to KCON France, which was a couple days before my birthday! This spring had a lot of great new music, as well as comebacks from some of my favorite artists.