Akdong Musician (Korean: 악동뮤지션, also known as AKMU) is a South Korean duo who participated on K-pop Star 2 in 2012 and debuted under YG Entertainment in 2014 after they won the second installment of the K-pop Star series.The duo consists of siblings Lee Chan-hyuk and Lee Su-hyun.
The group’s 2014 debut album Play was well received by the public and critics, having sold more than 6.9 million total downloads, as well as being awarded Best Pop Album in the 12th Korean Music Awards. The follow up albums Spring (2016) and Winter (2017) furthered their success. As of March 2017, the duo has sold over 23 million digital songs in South Korea.
Lee Chanhyuk and Lee Suhyun lived with their missionary parents in Mongolia for almost five years before they returned to South Korea to pursue a career in the music industry. Under the company, they did several stage performances and even released an original song called “Galaxy”, which was later used as a soundtrack for a Samsung Galaxy S4 commercial.
In August 2012, the duo participated in the preliminary auditions of K-pop Star 2, which were held at Jamsil Arena in Seoul. They passed the preliminaries and were eligible to perform in the show’s first round, where they sang a cover of Miss A’s “Breathe” and an original song titled “Don’t Cross Your Legs”. One of the judges, Park Jin-young, founder and CEO of JYP Entertainment, praised the chemistry between the siblings and the techniques they had incorporated in their performances. Singer and representative of SM Entertainment BoA highlighted and praised the lyrics of their original song, while Yang Hyun-suk, founder and CEO of YG Entertainment, described them as “true artists” among the people who had auditioned for the show. The duo continued to receive positive responses from the judges, until after their second performance in the third round. The judges pointed out that their lack of confidence was the main reason behind their lukewarm performances in the succeeding rounds. In spite of this, they eventually won the competition.
Some of their original songs performed during the competition were released under LOEN Entertainment and were well received. “You are Attractive”, for example, was released on 12 December and immediately reached the number one spot on the Gaon Charts. After the competition, despite not being signed under an entertainment agency, they participated in commercials and composed several songs. One of these songs was “I Love You” for the television series All About My Romance.
On 24 May 2013, a month after winning K-pop Star 2, the siblings signed an exclusive contract with YG Entertainment.
Akdong Musician’s debut album Play was released digitally on 7 April and physically on 9 April, twelve months after winning K-pop Star 2. The album has eleven songs, all of which were written and produced by Lee Chanhyuk. It has a total of three title tracks accompanied by three different music videos. The first song, “200%”, was chosen by Yang Hyun-suk, and the second song, “Melted”, was chosen by Akdong Musician. The third title song, “Give Love”, was determined by the fans. The album reached the number one spot on the Gaon Charts and debuted at number two on Billboard’s US World Albums Chart. Akdong Musician’s debut stage was on K-pop Star 3 on 6 April.
The music video for “200%” was released on 7 April along with the digital album. Shortly after its release, “200%”, topped the music charts, with the rest of the songs on the album also charting high. The music video for “Melted” was released on 14 April. The last and third title song was “Give Love”, which was the third high-charting song, after “200%” and “Melted”. The music video for “Give Love” was released on 2 May.
On 16 June, Akdong Musician participated in YG Family’s cover project, releasing a cover of Taeyang’s “Eyes, Nose, Lips”.
Akdong Musician’s first live concert tour, called “AKMU Camp”, took place on 21–23 November at Blue Square Samsung Card Hall, Hannam-dong, Seoul.
On 10 October, Akdong Musician released a digital single, “Time and Fallen Leaves” (Hangul: 시간과 낙엽; RR: Sigan-gwa Nagyeop), written and composed by Lee Chanhyuk. It was originally going to be the title track of Play, but was held back for an October release because it suited the autumn season better. The song made an “all-kill” two consecutive days after release by ranking number 1 on nine major real-time music charts. It also ranked number 1 on the weekly Gaon Digital Chart the second week of release. The song was not given a music video so the listeners would imagine their own stories.
On 5 November, it was revealed that Suhyun would be a part of the YG Family sub-unit “Hi Suhyun” with Lee Hi. Their debut single, “I’m Different” (Korean: 나는 달라), was released digitally on 11 November.
On 9 October 2015 Akdong Musician released the song “Like Ga, Na, Da” “(가나다같이)” along with a special video in celebration of Korea’s “Hangul Day”. The song is a joint production from YG Entertainment and Woori Card as part of an official Hangul Day campaign.
On 4 May 2016, Akdong Musician released their first extended play titled Spring (사춘기 상), the first record on a new album series named Puberty. The album was promoted with the release of two singles: “Re-Bye” and “How People Move”. On 26 April, Akdong Musician released a short film to tease their comeback. It starts out playful in a fantasy-like world until things begin to take a turn for a somewhat dark and creepy ending that gives the feeling of an “Uncanny Valley” effect. After the album’s release on May 4, five songs debuted within the top ten positions of the Gaon Digital Chart, with “Re-Bye” becoming a chart-topper. Billboard named Spring the fourth best K-pop album of the year, saying that the record “boast a more theatrical feel to them to show the young duo is growing an exciting pace.”
To promote Spring, Akdong Musician held a mini-concert at the Seoul Forest park in front of 10,000 people. The duo stayed the rest of the year performing throughout Asia, helding showcases at Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Shanghai.
After Spring Vol. 1, on 22 December, it was confirmed that AKMU would be releasing a short film called “Spring To Winter” to promote their new album, the second in a conceptual two-part album series Puberty. The short film was released on 1 January 2017. In the short film, the duo, playing themselves, argue and disband Akdong Musician, while songs from the new album act as the soundtrack.
On 24 December 2016, it was announced that their second seasonally themed album, Winter would be released on 3 January 2017. This album contains eight tracks; “Last Goodbye (오랜 날 오랜 밤)” and “Reality (리얼리티)” being released as singles. Winter debuted within Gaon Album Chart’s Top 10. “Last Goodbye” became the second best-performing song in the first half of 2017 in South Korea. The duo then began a South Korean tour, holding concerts in seven cities nationwide, including eight sold-out concerts in Seoul.
On 15 March 2017, Akdong Musician released a digital single in collaboration with Yang Hee-eun called “The Tree” (나무).
On 20 July 2017, Akdong Musician released their first single album titled Summer Episode, with double title tracks “Dinosaur” and “My Darling”. Notably, the single “Dinosaur” marks the duo’s first time experimenting with the popular EDM genre, whereas “My Darling” is an upbeat acoustic track.
On 13 September 2017, YG confirmed that Chan-hyuk would enlist for his military service from 18 September. Due to his enlistment, Akdong Musician is on hiatus. Suhyun would continue her career as a solo artist/actress. Chan-hyuk was enlisted in the Korean Marines.
On 4 June 2018, Lee Suhyun became Radio DJ for KBS Cool FM, Volume Up.