The sixth annual Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards were held in Seoul on Wednesday night (Feb. 22), handing out awards to 2016’s best-selling artists in South Korea.
The awards show highlighted the ongoing trend where male K-pop idol groups dominate album sales thanks to fervent fandoms, while female acts and ballad singers lead digital sales and streaming due to their appeal to local audiences.
Breaking down the prizes per quarter, GOT7 (Flight Log: Turbulence), EXO (EX’ACT) and BTS (Wings) each claimed a share in the top prize of album of the year award based on physical album sales. GOT7 and BTS dominated sales in the beginning and end of the year, while EXO reigned supreme in both the second and third quarter.
Twelve acts were named artist of the year based on monthly digital sales and streams, including girl groups GFRIEND, Mamamoo, TWICE, Sistar, the now-defunct Wonder Girls and BLACKPINK. BIGBANG was the only male K-pop act to merit the award for their efforts in digital music, a nod to the band’s overwhelming popularity. R&B group Urban Zakapa and balladeers Jang Bum Joon and Lim Chang Jung also took home prizes in the monthly artist of the year category.
Although the categories at the awards ceremony broke things up, the Gaon Charts previously announced Wings as the overall best-selling album of the year, while TWICE’s “Cheer Up” was the most popular single.
K-pop groups NCT 127 and Blackpink were each named rookie of the year, while alt-R&B artist Dean, rapper BewhY, indie group Bolbbalgan4 and ballad singer Han Dong Geun each received the discovery of the year award.
The production teams behind several popular K-pop acts were highlighted at the awards ceremony too. Lyricist Jo Yun Gyeong was highlighted for her creative work with Taeyeon, EXO and NCT 127, while composer Black Eyed Pilseung received that category’s award for his work with TWICE and SISTAR.
BTS’ Billboard record-breaking Wings album also garnered recognition, with Big Hit Entertainment’s Bang Shi Hyuk receiving the producer of the year award and their choreographer Son Seung Deuk taking home the style of the year award for the group’s choreography.
Launched in 2010, the Gaon Charts are run by the Korea Music Content Industry Association with the aim of creating a Billboard-like tracking system that is all-encompassing of Korean music based on sales and streaming.