2019 In Review: Day 13 – Rookie Artist of the Year

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2019 In Review

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

With the genre and collaborative sections wrapped up, we move on to recognizing some of 2019’s most impressive rookie artists.

  • To be considered as a rookie, an artist or group must have released their first album between December 1, 2018 and November 30, 2019. We are relaxing the singles criterion from previous years, where having released multiple singles in a prior year disqualified an artist from consideration.
  • Work done in compilation albums, audition shows, soundtracks, and featured performances do not disqualify potential rookies. Only full-fledged singles/albums carrying the artist’s billing.
  • Group and band members who debut solo are not considered rookies, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • “Next-Best Ten” is in alphabetical order.

Rookie Artist of the Year 2019


For full-length album Sobrightttttttt and collaborative full-length album Not My Fault (with Dress); collaborative singles “사랑해줘 (Trust Me) Remix” (with Yumdda) and “Meet Me When This Rain Stops” (with DJ Wegun); and featured appearances with Punchnello, Bang Yong-guk, Marcus Way and Brady, Jeebanoff, Bigone, Kona, Glam Gould, Dress, Maalib & WRKMS, and L-Like

The immense and almost immediate demand for Sogumm’s services as a featured vocalist in 2019 was telling. The singer-songwriter’s hazy yet crooning voice helped to add dreamy atmosphere to many songs in R&B and hip-hop alike while holding down a surreal veneer.

But of course, the real meat of the year was the two full-length albums she put out in its second half, one her solo debut and another a just-as-ambitious project with Dress. She shined in different ways in each: Not My Fault provided a dazzling emotional playground for Sogumm to exercise her lyricism and evocative performances, while Sobrightttttttt was half an hour of inventive ideas and sonic imagination run amok. Both gave us compelling reasons to watch her career closely.

The Runner-up


For EPs Aren’t You? and I Know; single “Cilla”; and OST work on Like

With frontman Seol Ho-seung’s tender yet incisive voice at the fore, Surl hit the gates running in December 2018. The band showed off a nice range of sounds in their first couple of EPs, but their best element seems to be the sentimental and driving numbers like “Snow” and “Dry Flower”.

In that space, Seol and Kim Do-yeon’s intricate guitar work was able to scratch and evoke while flanked by the energy and rush of the band’s arrangements. We saw this potential surge out in the gorgeously ethereal “Cilla”, one of the year’s best rock tracks, and I think the band is just starting to explore its potential.

The Next-Best Ten (Alphabetical)


For full-length album 6ixense; EP B:Complete; and featured appearance with Lizzo


For full-length album Life’s a Loop; collaborative EP Greatest Hits (with Hookuo); singles “Talented”, “Don’t Wanna Play”, “아사랑에빠지고싶 (Lonely Boy)”; and featured appearance with Hyngsn


For single-albums Arrival of Everglow and Hush


For full-length albums Tide and The Uprooted


For full-length album 초심 (Beginner’s Mind); single “Down”; and featured appearance with Jeon Jin-hee


For full-length album A Sea of Marbles and EP Elevate

Ryu Soo-hwan

For EP Glow

Son Areum

For EP My 0.5


For singles “춤 (Dance)” and “아무도 받지 않는 전화 (Melancholy Call)”


For EP Underwater and single “Unfortunately”

Honorable Mentions

Jane B
Jayci Yucca
Jihoon Shin
Jung Jin-hyeong
Kim Marie
Ko Jaemin & The Village Folk
Lim Haeum
M1xxed By
Otis Lim
Rocket Punch
We in the Zone
Yoon Lip

Lyric translations by author. Artist profile and album cover images from Bugs Music and Genie Music [Nosea].

Read our past series:

2018 In Review

2017 In Review

2016 In Review

2015 In Review

2014 In Review

2013 In Review

2012 In Review

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