Korean music is so much more than Kpop, as addicting and unique as it often is.
I would like to take a moment and show you just how vast the Korean music scene is and introduce you to a few albums from the previous year that caught my attention for being simply brilliant and unique – in no particular order and which you perhaps missed.
BLOO – BLOO IN WONDERLAND
Genre: Hip-hop | Buy | Follow
I myself have discovered Bloo only recently, as he is part of a crew with Nafla (MKIT RAIN) who is featured on the EP alongside with niahn (who is part of the same crew). What I love about the Korean hip hop and rap scene is the combination of often unique beats, which is the case here, add to it Bloos deep voice and its a killer combination.
LULILEELA – RISE FROM THE ASHES
Genre: Synth Pop
(I suppose) |Buy | Follow
Lulileela is someone that to my ears is completely unique for Korean music. If you enjoy a few electronic music vibes, such as White Lies or Monarchy, I think you will like Lulileela whose very soft voice is a great addition to the dance synth pop she makes.
CIFIKA – PRISM
Genre: Electronic/Indie | Buy | Follow
I am going to follow it up by another unique female artist. CIFIKA is really quite special, she is one of those artists you just can’t place anywhere – category wise. I think you can enjoy her music if you like Scandinavian uniqueness in their electronic music, there are a lot of elements you can look forward to from the beat work to her haunting voice. I would also recommend listening to the song “MOMOM” which was also released last year as a single featuring OHHYUK. The song is pure gold.
HYUKOH – 24: HOW TO FIND TRUE LOVE AND HAPPINESS
Genre: Indie rock | Buy | Follow
I am gonna follow it up with Korean indie rock band HYUKOH, where the above mentioned OHHYUK is the lead singer. I will never stop talking about this band because they are simply absolutely brilliant. The lead vocalist has a bit of rough voice, so it carries a lot of emotions. They try a lot of new elements as well, including oriental sounds. Their music delivers strong messages across which is always lovely to see but is more and more common in indie.
I think fans of The Kooks might find HYUKOH interesting.
JAURIM – 자우림
Genre: Alt. rock | Buy | Follow
I am now going to introduce you to a Korean alternative rock legend. The band called Jaurim has been active since the late ’90s, right along with the rising of this genre to its fame and a lot of that sound still remains in their music. Their lead vocalist, Kim Yoon-ah is probably one of my favorite rock female vocalists. She sings in her unique way and her voice really fits the music, you can feel how comfortable she is, and I absolutely love that. Jaurim released their 10th music album last year, although lots of their albums were released on cassette back then. The name of the album is the band name in Hangul. Definitely, a must, for fans of Hole, Sleater-Kinney or PJ Harvey mixed with a bit of the Cocteau Twins vibes.
CRUSH – wonderlost
Genre: R’n’B | Buy | Follow
If you enjoy Korean music, Crush is a name you should definitely know. Last year he released a short EP called wonderlost, which I think is really brilliant. It offers a lot of modern R’n’B does, where it combines with trap, rap, soul, electronic, all of it together depending on how creative artists get themselves. Crush mixes all of it throughout his music, a lot of this creativity comes from the crew he is part of, the FANXY CHILD, some of which members feature on this EP, like ZICO or punchnello. I’d say Childish Gambino fans could enjoy this album as well.
PENOMECO – GARDEN
Genre: Rap | Buy | Follow
I am going to follow it up by another member of the FANXY CHILD a rapper PENOMECO. I was personally very excited about this release since PENOMECO is an unbelievably talented rapper with his own very rememberable tone of voice and flow. It is also his first full EP to be released and it combines R’n’B with rap and hip-hop music with heavily instrumental beats, which is something I love. It’s quite similar to the Crush EP but still offers its own style, perhaps little heavier since PENOMECO is primarily rapper while Crush is oriented more on the soulful vocals. Lot of great featuring on this one too like the rappers The Quiett or Gaeko, but also Crush.
WOO – Af
Genre: R’n’B | Buy | Follow
I don’t usually get all that surprised but I certainly was when Woo Wonjae joined the AOMG label since his rap and creativity style is quite the opposite of what AOMG typically produces. But I was excited about it because as Korean labels go, that one is pure gold. Which honestly shows by signing Woo Wonjae as well, leaving him to creative freedom. This rapper is someone inclining to more darker themes and he is heavily oriented on the message delivery, which can be amazingly rare these days, especially in rap. The mini-album released last year titled “Af” is different from what people may know him by from Show me the money, but it also stays true to it. So its a combination of him as a character he created and as an artist he’s becoming and the label which has become his family (probably). Conclusion, it’s a very unique album that deserves your attention.
K.WILL – The 4th Album, Part. 2 / 想像: Mood Indigo
Genre: Ballad| Buy | Follow
I am going to completely switch the genres up to the Korean ballad king K.Will. I would love to tell you the number of this release, but I have no idea what he’s doing, all his albums are released in parts. Be it as it may, K. Will is a such a powerhouse when it comes to songwriting and performing as well. He has a rich voice full of power and emotions and there wasn’t a single album I wouldn’t properly enjoy. Style-wise, K. Wills music is something fans of Elton John or James Morisson could easily enjoy.
ERIC NAM – HONESTLY
Genre: Pop| Buy | Follow
The last one I would like to recommend is a pop music EP by Eric Nam, who probably has the most “
commercial” sound, but that doesn’t make any less enjoyable. It’s a very happy vibe short EP right in time for spring/summer season. If you are in Europe its also a great time to give this artist a listen and visit his upcoming tour to Europe in June. Definitely, something Maroon 5 or Justin Timberlake fans would enjoy.
This is honestly just of a few of huge amount of albums that I liked and that were released last year. The Korean music scene is something I honestly recommend, if you can get over the language barrier and appreciate the music, you can find a gold mine.