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Aespa clinches three prizes at 19th Korean Music Awards

K-pop girl group aespa (S.M. Entertainment)
K-pop girl group aespa (S.M. Entertainment)
K-pop girl group aespa swept up three prizes at the 19th Korean Music Awards, achieving a milestone as the rookie group with the most number of prizes at the awards.

At the annual music awards ceremony held at Nodeul Live House on Nodeul Island, central Seoul, Tuesday, the quartet took home the song of the year award for its megahit “Next Level,” which dropped May last year.

“Next Level” also won the newly created best K-pop song category and the group took home rookie of the year award.

After its debut in November 2020 with the single “Black Mamba,” aespa has generated a buzz in the K-pop industry with its unique concept -- the members also have alter egos in the virtual world, or metaverse.

The single “Next Level,” is a rearrangement of the original soundtrack from the 2019 action film “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.”

In their acceptance speech, the members of aespa thanked those who made covers for “Next Level” and followed the song’s signature dance move that looks like a shape of the Korean consonant digeut. They said they would continue to sing higher quality songs and work harder this year.

Singer-songwriter Lang Lee, band Soumbalgwang and alt-electronic duo Haepaary also had a big night, each winning two prizes.

Lang Lee was named the winner of album of the year and best folk album for her third album “There Is a Wolf.” Soumbalgwang nabbed trophies for best rock song and best rock album for “Dance” and “Happiness, Flower,” respectively. Haepaary received awards for best electronic song and best electronic album for “Go to GPD and Then” and “Born by Gorgeousness,” respectively.

BTS claimed artist of the year thanks to their Billboard chart-topping songs “Butter” and “My Universe.” It marked the boy band’s third time winning the award. It won the award in 2018 and 2019.

The best K-pop album prize went to Chungha for her first studio album “Querencia.” Singer-songwriter IU and sibling duo AKMU received best pop song award and best pop album award, respectively, for “Nakka (with IU)” and “Lilac.”

Punk rock band Crying Nut’s Han Kyung-rock and Korea Jazz Guardians won a special award given by the selection committee in recognition of their work designing albums and performances to promote the local music industry amid the pandemic.

The Korean Music Awards focuses on artists’ musical achievements as the primary criterion, unlike other local music awards that determine each year’s winners based on singers’ popularity and album and song sales figures.

The annual awards recognized winners in 25 categories this year for albums and songs released here from December 2020 to November last year. A panel of music critics, radio show producers and music industry professionals determine the winners.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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