With the ending of the 2016 K-Award season, a startling and amazing fact has surfaced. The long-standing tradition of Daesang wins between the Big Three in Korean Entertainment, SM, YG, and JYP had been broken! For the first time in the seven years since Artist of the year has been a Daesang category for the Mnet Asian Music Awards, also for the Melon Music Awards for Album of the Year, a group outside of the Big Three has clichéd both prestigious awards in the same year, BTS under BigHit Entertainment.
But with this win, a question now arises. What of other groups that have been ignored for Daesangs due to label alignment? Let us consider a few.
Known as the Concept Kings of K-Pop, VIXX has consistently provided stellar projects from their debut. The six-member group is unmatched in their dramatic choreography, stunning visuals, and carefully crafted vocals. They have a clear concept mastery, whether the tone be light, such as in the Dynamite music video, or dark, like the Fantasy music video. Their recent 2016 Conception, which includes the mini-albums Zelos, Kratos, and Hades, are a standing testament to the group’s versatility and prowess in concept execution. The video for The Closer has even spawned a pop culture phenomenon in the West called the Mannequin Challenge. But still, no Daesang win, even though they were nominated for Song of the Year for the past three years. Starlight everywhere are asking, “Why?”
Although she has won the Best Female Vocal Performance Award five years in a row and was in the initial group of nominees for this year’s MAMA Awards Daesang for Artist of the Year, Ailee has never won a Daesang in any category. The fact that she could win an award five times straight when she debuted as a solo artist and has kept to that is already outstanding. She has repeatedly shown her vocal expertise, enabling international fans to affectionately dub her the “Korean Beyoncé”. She has also shown that she is capable of giving fans more than a diva ballad, as heard in the song Insane, from the VIVID full album, and Home, the title track off her most recent EP, A New Empire. Delving into her discography, one can easily recognize the vast diversity of this timeless talent. So it is very odd that there has not been a Daesang win yet.
The members of U-KISS are no strangers to K-Pop. Even with their numerous member changes during their continuing eight-year run, they have consistently produced solid material, including 3 full-length albums and 12 EPs, something that is almost unheard of in the industry among other groups that debuted in the late 2000s. Their willingness to try different musical styles and genres can be seen in the lead singles Quit Playing and Stalker. Their vocal and harmonizing abilities are also top-notch, especially considering the eight line-up changes that for any other group could be disastrous. But during all this time, they have not even received a Daesang nomination.
Birthed in 2012, the members of B.A.P have released a portfolio of work that would make older groups green with envy. Lead by the widely recognizable voice of Bang Yong-Guk, the group has become known for their mastery of dark concepts and captivating story lines. Their loyal fans, BABYs, patiently waited for their return during their eleven month and nineteen-day hiatus, eight months and five days of which the group was embroiled in a lawsuit with TS Entertainment over unfair profit distribution, unfair working conditions, lack of accountability, and defamation of character. Upon settling and returning to TS Ent., who had changed leadership at that time, the now vindicated group released Young, Wild, and Free, an anthem of freedom. This was followed by the Matrix EP. The following Carnival EP showed a lighter, more jovial B.A.P which pleased BABYs everywhere, now having the knowledge that the group was happier and healthier. Their recent full-album release, NOIR, is nothing short of a masterful craft of audio perfection. Each song has the potential to be a title track. The title track and its music video, Skydive, has been called the part two of their most famous MV, One Shot, both of which drew BABYs in with the intricacies of the story line as well as the excellent production of the song. With two full-albums, five EPs, and five single albums, a solid discography, it is shocking that there has not been a Daesang nomination in any of the major award shows.
These are just a few of the groups that have been overlooked and cast aside due to their label affiliations, legal struggles, or frequent member changes. Of course, this is not a complete list. Time, nor space, would permit the inclusion and reasoning why other groups, like Mamamoo, SISTAR, and EXID, deserve a Daesang. But with BTS’ double Daesang win in 2016, things may start changing and groups from smaller companies may start winning, which will allow numerous fans to happily say, “Finally!”