History of Seoul Music Awards, history of KPOP | HaB Korea.net

History of Seoul Music Awards, history of KPOP

The historical moments of K-POP that has been growing along with the High1 Seoul Music Awards that the first started in the year 1990.

In 1980 Ballad & Trot

In the 1980s, trot singers along with superstar Cho Yong-pil grabbed a lot of attention. This trend also continued in late 1980s and until the early 1990s. During the period, trot singers like Tae Jin-ah, Ju Hyeon-mi, Hyeon Cheol, Kim Jeong-su and Kim Ji-ae were popular.

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History of Seoul Music Awards, history of KPOP
Byun Jin-seop is the only singer with a unique record to win Golden Disc’s Rookie of the Year award and grand prize at the same time for being the first album “To Be Alone”

Apart from trot songs, ballad songs were also popular among Korean fans. The albums of popular ballad singers like Byeon Jin-seob, Shin Seung-hun, Lee Sang-woo, Yang Su-gyeong were the best sellers at that time. Following such a trend, the Grand Award of the first High1 Seoul Music Awards held in 1990 was won by ‘the King of Ballad’ Byeon Jin-seob. Debuted in 1987, songs in his first and second album were loved by the public, and ‘Eotteon ibyeol (One Farewell)’ in this third album released in 1990 gave him honor of winning the Grand Award of the first SMA. In the 2nd SMA held in 1991, well-known trot singer Tae Jin-ah won the Grand Award with his famous song ‘Geouldo anboneun yeoja (a woman who doesn’t look at herself in a mirror).’

In 1990 The ‘President of Culture’ Rap songs, hip hops, and reggae

The music industry in the early 1990s was divided into two main genres: trot and ballad. But with the emergence of Seo Taiji and Boys who debuted with their first album ‘Nan arayo (I know)’ in 1992, the music industry witnessed a huge revolution. The group members, Seo Taiji, Yang Hyeon-seok, and Lee Ju-no, had a great influence on the overall pop culture such as music, fashion, hair-style, and dance, and teenagers became the major consumers in the Korean music industry.

History of Seoul Music Awards, history of KPOP
Prior to Seo Taiji and Boys, the Korean music industry was primarily influenced by American and Japanese folk music due to the colonial roots of South Korea. This music dominated the Korean music industry until the country lifted the travel ban which was in place until 1988. The lift of the ban allowed musical elements from foreign countries to become more accessible. Consequently, in the 1990s Seo Taiji and Boys used MIDI technology to begin incorporating Western music elements such as rap, rock, and techno into his music. Also, Seo Taiji and Boys began incorporating the English language into their music, a popular trend in South Korea, that resulted due to increased reliance on the United States for economic stability.

In 1992, Seo Taiji and Boys made an unprecedented record of winning both the New Artist of the Year Award and the Grand Award with their debut song ‘Nan arayo (I know).’ In the following year, they won the Grand Award again with ‘Hayeoga’ in the 4th SMA. Since then, Korean music industry enjoyed its renaissance era until late 1990s. During the period, various types of dance music like rap, hip hop and reggae enjoyed popularity, and the volume of album sales was extraordinary.

History of Seoul Music Awards, history of KPOP
H.O.T was created by SM Entertainment in 1996. They are considered to be the first K-pop idol group and their successful formula became the model for many K-pop groups that followed them.

Legendary idol groups like HOT, Sechs Kies, SES, Fin.K.L, and famous dance singers and groups like Kim Geon-mo, Kim Won-jun, Roo’Ra, Two Two, DJ DOC, Ref, Clone, Turbo, Jinusean, Eom Jeong-hwa, Park Jin-yeong (JYP) led the development of dance music. Meanwhile, Cho Sung-mo was the most well-known ballad singer during the period. After the sudden breakup of Seo Taiji and Boys, boy idol group called HOT made a debut and won the Grand Awards for two consecutive years with ‘We are the Future’ in 1997 and ‘Yeolmatchueo (Line Up)’ in 1988.

In 1995, Roo’Ra won the Grand Award with ‘Nalgae ireun cheonsa (An Angel without Wings),’ and dance duo Clone became the Grand Award winner in the following year with ‘Kkungttari shabara.’ In the history of Korean music in the 1990s, Kim Geon-mo and Cho Sung-mo are two key figures that must be mentioned. Kim Geon-mo won his first Grand Award with his song ‘Pinggye (Excuse)’ at the 5th SMA in 1994 and the second one with ‘Mianhaeyo (I am sorry)’ 7 years later in 2001. ‘Legendary ballad singer’ Cho Sung-mo also won the Grand Award for twice, first one in 1999 with ‘For Your Soul’ and the second one in 2000 with ‘Dajim (Promise).’

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In 2000 Hallyu (Korean wave)

R&B, hip hop, dance and medium tempo, just to name a few, along with the growing popularity of hallyu. In particular, some Korean singers became stars in the Asian region as well based on the popularity of Korean dramas, movies and their original sound track albums.

History of Seoul Music Awards, history of KPOP
TVXQ formed by S.M. Entertainment in 2003, TVXQ began as a five-member boy band composed of members U-Know Yunho, Max Changmin, Hero Jaejoong, Micky Yoochun, and Xiah Junsu.

One good example is Boa who was ranked top at Oricon Chart in Japan. Also, Rain, Shinhwa, TVXQ, Shin Seung-hun, Jang Na-ra, and Lee Jeong-hyeon showed the power of hallyu in the Asian market including Japan, China and Thailand, as well as in Korea. Meanwhile, R&B maintained its popularity in Korea, thanks to Park Hyo-shin, SG Wannabe, Park Jeong-hyeon, Wheesung, Big Mama, J, Park Hwayobi, Fly to the Sky, etc. And ballad singers were also loved by the public, including the ‘Queen of Ballad’ Lee Su-yeong, Baek Ji-yeong who came back in 2006, Wax, Yangpa, Tei, Iroo, and Seong Shi-gyeong. Lee Hyo-ri, Boa, Fin.K.L, Shinhwa, god, Yu Seung-jun, Koyote, and Cool led the popularity of dance music in the country.

In the first half of 2000, Lee Hyo-ri was the hottest issue with her sexy style, and she also was an all-round player in the entertainment field as an actress, MC, and commercial model. In trot music, Jang Yun-jeong created a new genre called ‘new generation trot’ after she released her first hit song ‘Eomeona (Oh My God),’ which was followed by a series of hit songs. In the SMA, Boa (‘No. 1’) won the Grand Award in 2002, Lee Hyo-ri (‘Ten Minutes’) in 2003, Shinhwa (Brand New) in 2004, and TVXQ (‘O-Jeongbanhap’) in 2006. In 2007, Korea music witnessed a whole new revolution once again: the emergence of super idols.

History of Seoul Music Awards, history of KPOP

Big Bang made a meteoric rise in K-POP, and many super-star idols appeared such as Super Junior, SHINee, FT Island, Girls Generation, Wonder Girls, Brown Eyed Girls, and SeeYa. In particular, the sales record of music albums decreased significantly, and digital singles emerged as a new trend, whereby one or 2-3 songs were released online instead of a regular album consisting of around 10 songs.

There were reasons for this new trend: the production cost of digital singles was only 30% of that of albums, and the demand for online music market rapidly grew for ring tones and background music for cyworld, a Korean social network. With addictive melody, easy-to-follow dance, and trendy fashion style, Big Bang became the winner of the Grand Award of the 17th SMA in 2007 with hit songs like ‘Geojinmal (a lie)’ and ‘Majimak insa (good-bye)’ .

The Grand Award of the following year went to Wonder Girls. The group got a nickname of ‘gungmin girl group’ (meaning a representative girl group of the country) following the hit of their songs like ‘Tell me’, ‘So hot’, and ‘Nobody.’ After they received the Grand Award, the girl group went to the U.S market in spring next year and ranked the 76th in ‘Hot 100,’ the Billboard’s main chart, in October, for the first time as a Korean singer and in 30 years for an Asian singer.

2010-Now K-POP’s best days

The present in the K-POP industry across Korea and abroad, 2009 and 2010 were the golden days of Girls Generation. The 9-member girl group released hit songs like ‘Sowoneul malhaebwa (Tell me your wish),’ ‘Oh!’, ‘Hoot’, and ‘Gee’ and remained at the top for two consecutive years.

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In 2011, idol groups led the market trend with the popularity of K-POP. In particular, some idol group members also showed their capabilities as multi-talented entertainers by appearing in dramas, movies and TV shows. The Main Awards of the SMA in 2011 went to FT Island, Miss A, Beast, Girls Generation, Super Junior, Secret, Sistar, IU, Lee Seung-gi, Kara, T-ara, and 4Minute. And Super Junior won the Grand Award. In 2012, world star Psy was the winner of the Grand Prize of the 22nd SMA. He won the award thanks of his song ‘Gangnam Style’, which became a mega hit around the world. Including Psy, Epik High, f(x), 2NE1, SHINee, Heo Gak, Miss A, Sistar, Big Bang, Super Junior, Secret and Lee Seung-gi won the Main Awards.

History of Seoul Music Awards, history of KPOP

Sistar won the Digital Music Award with the hit of their song ‘Nahonja (All by myself),’ and G-Dragon, a Big Bang member, won the Best Album Award with his song ‘One of a Kind.’ Kim Jang-hoon won the Performance Culture Award, Super Junior won the Hallyu Special Award, K.will won the Ballad Award, and Exo-K, Ailee, Lee Hi, and B.A.P won the New Artist of the Year Awards.


2013 was the year of Exo who won the Grand Award of the 23th SMA. Right after its debut in 2012, the group won the New Artist of the Year Award in the same year and won the Grand Award the next year. Including Exo, SHINee, Girls Generation, Apink, VIXX, Beast, 4Minute, and Infinite won the Main Awards. The Best Alum of the Year was won by Cho Yong-pil, the ‘King of Music’ who made a comeback in 10 years with his 19th album ‘Hello.’ The Ballad Award was won by K.will for the second consecutive year.

Lee Seung-cheol won the Performance Culture Award, SHINee won the Hallyu Special Award, and Dynamic Duo won the Hip Hop Award. In 2014, some idols came back to the stage and there was many collaborations between singers. ‘god’ made a comeback in 12 years with their 15th anniversary concert and boosted its power by recording no. 1 in the entire music charts in the country. Fly to the Sky also returned to the stage in 5 years and showed the wonderful harmony of the duo, which brought back the memory of the 1990s to K-POP fans.

Beginning from ‘Sseom (Something)’ by Soyu and Jeong Gi-go, which was the biggest hit in the first half of the year, duet songs like ‘Hannyeoreum bameui kkul (One Sweet Summer Night)’ by San E and Raina, and ‘Jiweo (Erase it)’ by Hyorin and Ju-yeong ranked top in music charts. In particular, ‘Sseom’ ranked no. 1 for 41 consecutive days in a music chart and became the best duet song of the year. In the year, groups like AOA, Apink, Winner, B1A4, Beast, and B.A.P were also popular.

Seoul Music Awards BTS

Since then, for the 2018, 2019 consecutive year, BTS got the record of being No. 1 on the Billboard chart has established itself as the best world star born of K-POP, successfully completing its U.S. and European world tours, including a performance at Wembley Stadium in Britain, which was considered only a dream for Korean artists. The attention and enthusiasm that K-POP has brought to fans around the world over the last decade will be remembered as the standard of the world that hallyu is no longer the culture of the periphery of Asia, but as a major period that has moved toward the center of the world.

Source: Seoul Music Awards

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