2017 In Review: Day 1 – Prelude (Best Album Art)

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2017 In Review

1. Prelude (Best Album Art)
2. R&B and Soul
3. Rock and Alternative
4. Rap and Hip-hop
5. Dance and Electronic
6. Pop and Ballad
7. Folk and Country
8. Jazz and Blues
9. Crossover and Other
10. Best Collaborative Work
11. Rookie Artist of the Year
12. Artist of the Year
13. Song of the Year
14. Album of the Year
15. Other Recognition
16. Concluding Remarks

It’s 2017 for just a handful of days more, and that means it’s high time to tell you about Hellokpop’s seventh annual Year In Review series. Each December to January, we spend two weeks highlighting some of the best from the year’s K-pop and broader Korean music. It’s a celebration of works that moved us as well as ones that made us move; music that weaved into the fabric of our lives, streets and shops, as well as music that eagerly awaits discovery. Welcome to 2017 In Review.

Series Structure

The meat of the series begins on January 1, 2018. From then on, there will be a post every day for the next fifteen days, following the schedule at the top of this page. We start with genre-specific categories covering eight broadly defined genres, and then move into the general categories. After one year of consolidation last year, the “Jazz and Blues” and “Crossover and Other” are two separate categories again. With the “Staff Picks” category taking a hiatus this year, however, the overall length of the series remains at 16 posts.

As in previous years, each genre category will feature twelve albums and twelve songs, including a “best” pick and a “runner-up” pick, as well as honorable mentions of varying number. The general categories follow a similar format, but “Artist of the Year”, “Song of the Year”, and “Album of the Year” have no honorable mentions. (Note that the Song of the Year, Album of the Year and their runner-ups won’t show up in the genre categories at all.)

On Day 15, we’ll have some fun and present dozens of whimsical “awards” that recognize works and artists for nontraditional or intentionally cherry-picked accomplishments. Finally, on Day 16 we’ll bring a summary of what other publications have picked in their year-end lists – which always includes lots of stuff that we didn’t pick or didn’t know about!

As always, the coverage period is December to November: works released between December 1, 2016 and November 30, 2017 are eligible to be included.

Best Album Art

For those joining us for the first year, we begin each Year in Review with a gallery of 100 notable pieces of album art from 2017. I pick these across a flexible set of criteria: some of them are aesthetically pleasing, others are evocative or meaningful, and still others are just striking. They also serve as a prelude of what’s to come: many of the albums and singles represented below will also show up in the “award” categories in the main series. After all, good music often comes with attention to aesthetics.

The gallery is organized by alphabetical order of artist name. (Korean names are romanized.) Mouse over each image to view artist and title, and click on an image for a scrollable list. Original high-res versions of these images can be found at most major Korean music vendors; I get these from Bugs Music.

One quirk that I noticed while putting this together: there’s a whole lot of lunar activity going on in these. Maybe it’s just my tastes showing through, but the Moon (or moons) features prominently in many 2017 album covers, more than I can recall from other years. What are some of your favorites from 2017? Let us know in the comments.


Gallery: Best Album Art 2017 (click for larger image and scroll through)


Read our past series:

2016 In Review

2015 In Review

2014 In Review

2013 In Review

2012 In Review

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