It’s awards season once again in the K-pop world. Which, as an international fan, means alarms set for the middle of the night and bleary-eyed searches for that streaming link you just knew you’d saved but are stuck searching frantically for because you decided to hit snooze just one more time … Wait? Or is that just me? (Also not all that much different from when your favorite group has a comeback, let’s be real.)

As a fairly recent fan of K-pop (nearly 3 years now and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down), awards season is always a blast — giant stages and even more giant production numbers, retrospectives, surprise collaborations and even bigger surprise special guests (Janet Jackson, anyone?); it’s all in your face and spectacular. There are downsides too, songs that don’t seem to fit their categories, companies boycotting events, and since it’s an Idol World, smaller companies and lesser-known groups getting passed right by. If I were a more academia-inclined person with a much better handle on capitalism and the K-pop industry, I could write you an essay probably worth a Ph.D. However, I’m going to leave that for another day and stay on the fun side of things.

Like I stated earlier, awards season is know for those larger-than-life stages and all-encompassing performances. Case in point, just recently the Melon Music Awards ended their evening with BTS’ mega-performance — samgomu, buchaechum, talchum, salmunori, bukcheong sajanoreum — it was a dazzling display of cultural appreciation, ending in a traditional instrumental remix of their hit “IDOL”.

That being said, my other favorite performance that night was much, much simpler: One man alone on a stage with nothing but a few lights, a microphone, and his guitar. I found myself thoroughly entranced by Roy Kim as he sang “Only Then,” the winning entry for Best Ballad.

From the soft, fluttering tones to the soaring, heart-wrenching notes, Kim’s performance was simple and simply stunning. There’s a warmth, a richness, and depth to Kim’s voice that wrapped itself around my heart, and it sounds cheesy as hell, but it felt a lot like home feels. Settled and comforting.

Awards season is just beginning, so there will be many more exciting things to come. Until then, what did you think of both of these performances? Let us know what your favorite performance has been so far this awards season in the comments below!

[YouTube [1][2])

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