About a year ago, I kicked off this blog with my 50 favorite K-pop songs of 2016 listed by season. This time, I decided it would be fun to do an “official” ranking. So I grabbed a set of index cards and wrote down all the music I wanted to talk about… only to end up with 100 songs instead of the planned 50. I change my favorites constantly, so I probably should have known how it would go. After all, this is what happens when you’re unapologetically multifandom. I eventually narrowed my choices down to a Top 50, but I decided to make the extra effort and do a “bonus” post. I wanted to share the other songs I liked, and it’s always important to promote good music!
The MNET Asian Music Awards are finally upon us! The week-long awards started in Vietnam this past weekend, with another show in Japan and the main event in Hong Kong. After over a month of online voting, fans all over the world are waiting to find out which K-Pop acts will come out on top. Many categories are a head-to-head battle between EXO and BTS, but there are so many other questions to answer: Will all the recent hype over BTS in the US affect an Asian awards ceremony? Will EXO manage to grab their fifth daesang for Best Album? With three comebacks each, will TWICE or Red Velvet be named the top girl group of 2017? And after enjoying years of favoritism, will any YG artists get recognized at all? This year’s definitely going to be an interesting one.
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!
This was a crazy month for K-Pop. There was so much going on it took me all the way through September to catch up! It’s probably because I spent most of August focusing on SNSD’s 10th anniversary and Wanna One’s debut, but there were plenty of great new releases. Sometimes these posts are biased because I just keep mentioning the same groups over and over again…but this time I’m going to try and cover as many as I can!
Frequent readers of my blog will know I started out mainly writing reviews of K-POP’s latest releases. I still really enjoy doing those, but they’re super time-consuming. On average, it takes me about two days to do all the research, make GIFs, and actually write the review…and that’s when I’m focused! If I did that for every group I liked or I was interested in, I’d be forever behind. And there also just times when I don’t feel I have enough material to fill up a whole post. So I’ve come up with a new solution!
Rapid(ish) Reviews will be a blanket post for multiple artists at once. I’ll still use the same scoring system, but I’m going to focus on what I feel is most pertinent rather than every single little thing. I’m still going to do the big reviews for artists that I really like and/or feel I have a lot to say about, but I think this is an easier way to share my opinions when I’m pressed for time. Because there were so many comebacks in August, I’ve split this into multiple posts. This one will cover the more well-known idols or ones who have been around for a while. I’ll make another one about all the rookies / Produce 101 alum.
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
Oh my gosh, May feels like forever ago. K-pop moves so darn fast. There wasn’t a whole lot going on in the beginning (because of elections?), but the last week brought a whole rush of comebacks that threw me off schedule. I considered skipping this post altogether because it’s been so long, but ultimately my
perfectionism need to be consistent won out. Plus there were a lot of great songs this month. May may not have had a lot of new music, but there was a lot of diversity. All of my favorite songs this month are very different in terms of sound, and I’m loving it.
Concepts are very big in K-pop, but they can also be very tricky. Rookie groups often struggle to find one that works, and veteran groups might consider them limiting. Vixx, however, has turned concepts into their greatest asset. Part of their popularity comes from their ability to bring their ideas to life. The concept is the foundation of their comeback, and because of that everything else falls perfectly into place. I always look forward to Vixx’s comebacks, and “Shangri-la” definitely doesn’t disappoint. It’s lush and gorgeous, showing off their stellar sense of aesthetics and penchant for visual storytelling.
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.