2017 In Review: Day 9 – Crossover and Other

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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

For 2017, our most diverse category features influences from (European) classical music, tango, samba, reggae, acid, ska, opera, new age, and world music encompassing traditional Korean, African blues, Afro-Cuban, classical Indian, and much more. Some works attained excellence within a genre’s canon, while others mixed and adopted from many disciplines en route to exciting new frontiers.

Important: as in previous years, the Album of the Year and Song of the Year (and their runner-ups) are not included in the genre categories. That means that, for example, there could be a crossover album that isn’t being recognized on this page because it’s the album of the year. Also, note that all “First Ten Out” and “Honorable Mention” picks are sorted by artist name.


Best Crossover and Other Album 2017

IJM – Kali Dance

The percussion hails from West Africa, the woodwind and bass styles from Africa and Brazil, sitars from India, and haegeum from Korea. The eclectic collection borrows richly from all of the traditions that these instruments come from – see the brooding sitar harmonics of “Ceremony” or the tactile and complex rhythms of “African Circus” – yet the end result is something novel. The instrumentalists compose inventive arrangements that are thoroughly unpredictable and dizzyingly intricate, and perform them with lively chemistry. The diverse base also allows IJM to express a wide range of moods, and sometimes subvert expectations in the way of, say, Jambinai: “Bani”, for example, has what sounds like a traditional Korean-influenced melody performed by decidedly non-Korean sounds. Stepping into these tracks – so unfamiliar yet strangely persuasive – I can’t help but feel like IJM has drilled a little bit towards the very essence of music, this deep inheritance that we all share.

Runner-up Crossover and Other Album 2017

NST & The Soul Sauce – Back When Tigers Smoked

NST & The Soul Sauce is a reggae band, but the lineup is more comprehensive than you might think: there’s the standard band set of keyboard-guitar-drum-bass, and then two brass players, a violinist, a saxophonist, and a percussionist. That gives the team great flexibility in realizing its vision of roots reggae with Korean and alternative Western influences. Thus the Nyabinghi rhythm is able to co-star with bluesy fuzz-tone guitar in “The Beginning of the End”, Kim Yulhee’s pansori singing is married seamlessly to “Red Tiger”‘s steely beat, and “This Moment” is even played as surprisingly straight contemporary pop. NST’s bass and the percussion of Kang Taek-hyun and Smiley Song are the reliable backbone of the band, allowing for some wild experimentation but always keeping an irresistible groove going. The power of a beat cannot be overstated.

The First Ten Out

Common Ground – Dance Republica

El Caminito – Primavera

HearIM – Mono Heart

Sentimental Scenery – History

Seo Young Do Electric Ensemble – 가물거리는 세상 (The Hazy World)

Shin Nal-sae – 시간을 달리다 (Running Along Time)

Ska Wakers – The Great Dictator

Song Hong-sub – Song Hong-sub Ensemble: Electro-Harmonics

Tehiun – 선셋마당 (Sunset Madang)

Yiruma – F r a m e


Best Crossover and Other Song 2017

Han Seung-seok & Jung Jaeil – 저 물결 끝내 바다에 (And There, The Sea at Last)

Pansori, orchestra, and the storytelling opportunities in-between; And There, The Sea at Last is a fitting culmination to this experiment. The 10-minute epic is absolutely massive, in every sense. The song tracks the flow of streams and rivers as they first coil around mountains and then descend downstream. While Han supplies the narrative in beautiful poetry, the expressive strings and brass also give character to the shapeless water, holding and gliding and crashing and flooding down the winding path; Jung’s piano is menacing and dramatic in setting the backdrop. The midsection sequence is particularly magical, when the water is stopped at a boulder and begins pooling. Han describes amidst the stormy, escalating arrangement: “tens of thousands of streams combine… crash as if stopped, disperse, form again”, and an eternity later, the wall is overcome, water spills over, and Han and the choir vocalize in solemn triumph on graceful strings. As the water reaches the sea at last, the song connects with its indomitable spirit atop a stirring orchestral finale: “This water, flowing and flowing / shall form a grand and mighty river and shape the land […] Such shall be the condition of man, always onward / A great many years, a great long road / How could the will of as many souls as there are specks / be but fulfilled?”

Runner-up Crossover and Other Song 2017

HearIM – 눈꽃 (Snow Flower)

Sure, there are bigger and bolder songs. “Snow Flower” is relatively small-scale, but is so densely packed and ambitiously composed that it feels much more grandiose. Seo Ho-young’s sentimental piano melody busily drives the track forward with soundtrack-like flair, and the song takes breathers amidst a series of solos after Kim Sung-kyum’s taepyeongso comes in with a surprising tenderness; I don’t think I’ve ever heard this instrument playing pitches this melodic. The highlight reel kicks off almost three minutes in, as every instrument breaks out in an explosive harmony that heightens the passion of the first movement through the roof. From there, it’s one pause and a rush of sound en route to a stunning finish.

The First Ten Out

Drain & KAN – 두물머리 노래하다 (The Confluence Sings) (link)

Echae Kang & Chung Chae-woong – Are We Still (link)

El Caminito – 마지막 탱고 (The Last Tango) (live link)

Han Seung-seok & Jung Jaeil – 情으로 지은 세상 (The World Through Love) (link)

IJM – Kali Dance (link)

Koh Sangji – 마지막 만담 (The Last Rakugo) (link)

Kwon Song-hee – 인당수 (The Indangsoo Sea) (live link)

Lee Seung-hwan – 돈의 신 (The God of Money) (link)

Sentimental Scenery – Laurel (link)

Seo Young Do Electric Ensemble – 가물거리는 세상 (The Hazy World) (Feat. Baik Hyunjhin) (link)

Honorable Mentions


Cho Inchul – Infinite RT
Cubanism – First Christmas
Decadent – ㅔ (é)
Duobud – 별빛위로 (Starlight Consolation)
Heyoung X Crow – Start Up
Muses – The Passion
Samuel Seo & Qim Isle – Elbow
Ska Wakers – La Vita e Bella
Soro Sori – 별빛 (Star Reflection)


Bo N Vivido – 꽃보라 연가 (Petal Swirl Love Song)
Cho Inchul – Prophet
Cubanism – 가자 (Let’s Go)
Dreamcatcher – 날아올라 (Fly High)
Duobud – 별 (Star)
E Sang – Urban 피리 (Urban Piri)
Gonne Choi – 귀향 (Anaspora)
Heyoung X Crow – 바람 쏟아지는 소리 (Wind-Bell)
Jung Cha-sik – 모래바람 (Sand Wind)
Kim Ban Jang & Windycity – Mek Me Hot
Kim Kwang-min – 염원 (Yearning) Part 1
Koh Sangji – El Dia Que Me Quieras (Feat. Ryota Komatsu)
Koonta X Skull – Reggae Army (Feat. Rueed)
Lee A-reum – 바람빛 (Windlight)
NP Union – Geeky Freaky
NST & The Soul Sauce – Sing a Song and Dance
Oriental Showcus – Retro, Il Lento
Parang Jamong – Asturias
Scarlet Mojo-pin – Ez Come Ez Go (Gorilla-Man)
Shin Nal-sae – 너를 처음 본 그 해 봄날 (That Spring Day When I First Saw You)
Ska Wakers – 보이지 않는 손 (The Invisible Hand)
Tehiun – 四友歌 (Four of My Man)
Yiruma – f r a m e d (String ver.)
Yoon Jong-shin & Forte di Quattro – 마지막 순간 (Last Moment)

Sources: album art from Bugs Music; Han Seung-seok and Jung Jaeil header image from Mintpaper

Read our past series:

2016 In Review

2015 in Review

2014 in Review

2013 in Review

2012 in Review

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