The 2018 LWOS Life K-Pop Awards

SAITAMA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 12: (L-R) V, Suga, Jin, JungKook, RM, Jimin and J-Hope of South Korean boy group BTS attend the 2018 Mnet Music Awards FANS' CHOICE in Japan at Saitama Super Arena on December 12, 2018 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Ken Ishii/Getty Images)

Welcome to the first ever LWOS.life K-Pop Awards. We have 20 categories to talk about, with the topics ranging from artists, to companies, to shows. Let’s start with the biggest award of all, group of the year.

LWOS.life K-Pop Awards 2018

Group of the Year: BTS

Really this should be no surprise to anyone. From start to finish BTS had an absolutely dominating 2018. The group’s worldwide success matched with their continued ability to release great albums showed that they were a good fit to be group of the year. The group’s two albums Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer included big-time tracks like “IDOL” and “Fake Love,” two songs who find themselves in another category this year as well. The quality of the two music videos was something that you never see from outside a big three company. BigHit’s Bantan brand has made the company soar past any of their competition from before.

What personally was the biggest part about giving the group this award was their international success. The group’s successful world tour was something to commend them for. While others do world tours, they have never been as big as BTS’s. For example, playing at an American baseball park has been unforeseen for a group before. Worldwide they have sold out venues and show no signs of slowing down. Most people think BTS when they think K-Pop.

Girl Group of the Year: TWICE

The group that came the closest to winning group of the year was TWICE. In 2018 the group truly proved that they are “One In A Million” with their success. While most people pick quality or quantity, this group was able to do both. Releasing nine music videos and five albums/EPs within the year. The group continued to expand into their secondary market, Japan, achieving platinum status with the album BDZ. The group also tied with BTS for 2018 music show wins.

The music videos put together by JYP Entertainment with TWICE have been phenomenal. TWICE’s music videos in the past have been good, but have never reached the peak that “What is Love?” did. The bubblegum pop hit machine that is TWICE will walk into 2018 on top of the girl group scene.

Boy Group of the Year: SHINee

Now longtime boy group SHINee put together an amazing year, coming back from the tragic loss of member Jonghyun in early 2017. Over the course of the year, the group released music which was soon to be put together as the full album “The Story of Light” Epilogue. In the release, the group had numerous songs that were truly amazing. As the group surpassed the 10-year mark of their debut, they continue to show that they can roll with the industries punches and stay relevant in the scene.

Song of the Year: BTS – Fake Love

Personally, I thought it would be an absolute robbery to not have the song “Fake Love” win any sort of award. The group’s biggest track of the year is a great summary of the intensity that BTS is able to channel in their songs. The notes that are hit in the chorus are equally impressive and amazing. The sound has a unique way of going from near whispers to shouting. For me personally, it will be known as the song of 2018.

Album of the Year: Red Velvet – The Perfect Velvet

From top to bottom, The Perfect Velvet was an amazing album. In the 12 track repackage, Red Velvet made an absolute masterpiece that for the most part expressed the group’s R&B music. Songs like “Bad Boy,” “Peek-A-Boo,” “Kingdom Come” and “Perfect 10” showed the group’s ability to channel their “Velvet” sound. Other songs like “All Right,” “Look” and “I Just” showed more of a pop style from the group while still keeping the dark concept intact. Not many songs stay in my playlist for over a year, but select songs from this album will.

Mini Album/EP of the Year: Gugudan – Act.5 The New Action

There were tons of mini-albums this year, but the one that caught my attention was Gugudan’s Act.5 The New Action. The release scored a buzzer beater win, with the project only coming out in the jam-packed November. The EP did a good job at showing the group’s numerous ways that they can present themselves. Title track “Not That Type” showed a dominant girl crush concept from the group. Songs like “Pastel Sweater” and “Dear” brought out the group’s bubblegum pop style which is seen in previous title tracks like “Chococo.”

Music Video of the Year: TWICE – What is Love?

Undoubtedly the best music video from this year was “What is Love?” by TWICE. The video jam-packed references to movies that include love stories, as the group gathered at the start to watch TV. It was an adorable way to relate the video to the song, where the group asks the question “What is love?” References are new and old, so if you watch I expect you’ll at least recognize a thing or two.

Rookie Girl Group of the Year: fromis_9

I knew this award couldn’t make everyone happy. Every group nominated for the award deserves to win. Sadly, one had to be picked. So to LOONA, (G)I-DLE and IZ*ONE, you can all be honorary winners. But the real winner is fromis_9. The nine-member group had three powerful comebacks in 2018. When they debuted with the song “To Heart,” it was only the start of what they were about to do in the year. Their follow-up songs “DKDK” and “LOVE BOMB” were both amazing tracks as well. The group knows how to do cute styled concepts while changing around the sound with each release.

Rookie Boy Group of the Year: The Boyz

This year it was a close race between Stray Kids and The Boyz. The Boyz, in the end, were the ones who are being given the award. The new group put out three title tracks in 2018. The first two, “Giddy Up” and “Right Here” established the group’s energetic style. They were able to change things up slightly with “No Air,” another hit from the group.

Male Soloist of the Year: Eric Nam

In 2018 Eric Nam put out mini-album Honestly, and went on tour throughout North America promoting the album. Not only is the project well put together, but his month-long tour was an impressive thing to pull off.

Female Soloist of the Year: Hyolyn

Hyolyn saw success in her year of independence. After leaving SISTAR the artist started her own label and made great music. She first put out “Dally,” a song about being independent. After that, she created two real summer songs, with “See Sea” and “BAE.” Her vocal talent along with the choreography in each single is what gave Hyolyn this award.

Breakout Artist of the Year: Momoland

After being a mid-tier group for a year Momoland hit a stride with two singles in 2018. The group put out “BBoom BBoom” in January of 2018, which went viral, becoming one of the biggest K-Pop songs of the year. The EDM pop song gave the group their first music show win, along with six other. The group followed up their successful song with a similar track called “BAAM,” which is currently sitting at 133 million views on Youtube. The Momoland from 2017 isn’t the Momoland that we know now.

Subunit of the Year: EXO-CBX

EXO-CBX is the only subunit this year that put out more than one title track. On top of that, the two songs were very good. The biggest of the two releases was “Blooming Day.” The catchy, low-key song was what EXO-L’s were given in the first half of the year before the group returned as a whole. The group also saw promotion in Japan with the title track “Horololo.” Along with that, the team of three went on tour throughout the country.

Collaboration of the Year: K/DA

K/DA was the best collaboration in 2018 when it came to non-K-pop and current K-pop acts colliding. The act which was a collab between (G)I-DLE, Madison Beer and Jaira Burns was put together by Riot Games back in November as a promotion for purchasable skins in the video game League of Legends. The futuristic-dance song included great vocals and rap in both English and Korean. Unlike many of the collaborations this year, this one was performed live on a big stage. Four artists played at the League of Legends 2018 World Championship in Incheon, South Korea prior to the championship game.

Best International Promotion Award: TWICE

While it should be commended that BTS had more worldwide success, girl group TWICE has established themselves very well in their secondary market of Japan. The group put a bigger focus on the country than ever in 2018, putting out their first full-length album in Japanese. Nobody else put out more content targeted towards one specific audience outside of Korea than TWICE did. And on top of that, it was all pretty good music.

Company of the Year: SM Entertainment

While not receiving the best views or album sales at all times in 2018, SM Entertainment put out quality content. Out of all big three labels, SM had the most active talent by far. The continuation of NCT, along with releases from EXO, Red Velvet, SHINee, and many of their soloist projects, made this company easily the busiest. But despite the crazy amount of tasks, what was maintained throughout was quality in what was worked on.

Fanbase of the Year: ORBITS (LOONA)

LOONA’s fanbase is not the biggest, but is hard to avoid. The overwhelming amount of support that LOONA received from English fans was overwhelming. What I find is the most astonishing is how many times I’ll see a meme on Twitter that went viral and has either a clip of a LOONA music video or audio from a song in it. It almost became a joke in itself how the group would subtly find their way into the mainstream. ORBITS, as they are known as, have gotten many to “STAN LOONA” through their promotion online.

Last.fm Scrobble of the Year Award: Lovelyz

This award is personal. The last.fm Scrobble of the Year Award goes to the group that I listened to the most in 2018. The group Lovelyz wins with over 1,000 plays, with Red Velvet winning a silver medal and TWICE getting bronze. I think what made Lovelyz get so many plays was how they have replay value on not just their title tracks but also their b-sides of mini-albums. The 2017 release Fall In Lovelyz would have won mini-album of the year if not for it being a release from two years ago. The same reason is what qualifies Red Velvet for second, with their album The Perfect Velvet having many memorable tracks.

TV Show of the Year: Produce 48

The show of the summer, and now the whole year is Produce 48. The spinoff of two season show Produce 101 saw J-pop idols from 48 groups and K-pop idols compete with the top twelve debuting in what is now known as IZ*ONE. The 12-episode show was dramatic, sad, and funny, but above all showed the grueling process it takes to be a pop star. You got to cheer for your favorites and see them progress as the show went on. Some were not happy with the ending of the show, but personally, I found it entertaining. PD48 was a good survival show after The Uni+ and MIXNINE were not amazing.

Concept of the Year: Summer Pop

Undoubtedly the concept of summer pop music was the biggest this year. It was a year where nearly every group was in a rush to put out a summer song. I can go on all day naming the best summer songs, but the best had to be from TWICE, Red Velvet, Hyolyn and Lovelyz. It was a period of the year where all the music had a fun, refreshing sound to it. Since tropical pop has been used quite frequently in K-pop recently, this slew of great songs felt like a good exit for the genre. But who knows, it might stay for much longer.

Last Word on K-Pop 2018 Awards

Well, there are all of the awards. Of course these choices were all mine, and in the end are all subjective. People who have a slightly different taste in music or a different view of the industry would give certain awards different winners. But of course, what matters the most is that 2018 was a good year. Let’s hope that 2019 can be all of that and maybe more.

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