Updated: Oct 7
By Rosa Gulliver of TINYGMUSIC | 15th July 2023
Meet the Masterminds Behind K-pop's Biggest Hits
Ever find yourself listening to a K-pop song on repeat and just vibing with the catchy hooks and beats?
We feel so happy and proud every time our favourite artist releases a catchy hit song, a track that hits our soul, a track that has meaning and remains with us for a lifetime. The artists get flooded with appreciation from all over the world. But have you ever wondered about the music producers behind the hit song? A lot of us are guilty of completely forgetting the staff working behind the scenes. Music production is a very delicate process, the keen ears and sheer talent required to constantly come up with new music and stay relevant in an industry already oversaturated with producers are no easy feat.
To come out with hit after hit after hit is not easy. The chances are that your on-repeat K-pop song was produced by the talented trio behind MONOTREE. You may not know their names, but you've definitely heard their work.
Hwang Hyun, G-High, and Lee Joo Hyung make up the hit-making production team that's responsible for some of the biggest K-pop smashes in recent years. We're talking Tempest’s "Bad News," SEVENTEEN's "Darl+ing," IVE's "Kitsch," and Red Velvet's "Ladies Night," just to name a few. In a cutthroat industry, these three friends have risen to the top through raw talent, musicality, and an ability to craft the perfect pop song. Curious to know the story behind the music? Sit back as we take you into the studio with MONOTREE.
Who Is MONOTREE? The K-pop Production Powerhouse
MONOTREE is a South Korean music production founded by producers Hwang Hyun, Lee Joo Hyung, and G-high. “Known as the fathers of K-Pop.” Throughout their careers, these three talented producers have worked with many artists like EXO, Red Velvet, and ONF.
The trio created MONOTREE in 2014 with the vision of acting as the link between “the emotional and business points” that exist in the K-pop industry. They aimed to separate the "technical" from the "emotional aspects” of the industry. Back in 2014, South Korea wasn’t big on founding agencies exclusively dedicated to housing producers, so this prompted Hwang Hyun, G-High, and Lee Joo Hyung to set up their own agency, similar to an entertainment agency but only for producers.
Hwang Hyun, the main producer of MONOTREE, has composed boy group ONF’s entire singles run, splitting the rest of his time equally between second-generation legends and newer rookie groups. His sound is bright, with retro synths and daring arrangements that often feature shifts in tempo and style. He has an inventive touch that forgoes trends in favour of classic synth textures and big pop melodies. If you know that Hwang Hyun is behind a song, you know it will be great.
As a production team, MONOTREE is known for its electronic-based sound and ability to blend genres. Their songs incorporate EDM, hip-hop, R&B, and pop elements that appeal to a wide range of K-pop fans. They've won multiple Song of the Year awards at major K-pop award shows.
In the past, the members of MONOTREE have attributed their success to a shared passion for music, mutual trust in each other's talents, and maintaining an openness to new ideas. They make an effort to understand the unique qualities of each group they work with to create tailor-made songs that showcase the group's strengths.
With their proven track record, musical versatility, and ability to evolve with trends, MONOTREE is poised to continue leading the K-pop production scene. They're the masterminds behind hits that have come to define the K-pop sound and spread the genre's popularity worldwide. K-pop groups and fans alike can expect more chart-topping collaborations with MONOTREE for years to come.
MONOTREE's Rise to Fame: From Rookies to Industry Leaders
As rookies in the K-pop production scene, MONOTREE had to pay their dues. They started out producing songs for lesser-known artists, slowly building up their portfolio and industry cred. Their big break came in 2016 when they produced "Russian Roulette" for Red Velvet. The song was a huge hit, now earning over 250 million YouTube views and establishing MONOTREE as a production powerhouse.
Since then, MONOTREE has worked with some of the biggest names in K-pop, including Twice, EXO, NCT, and IVE. They've pumped out an impressive string of catchy, chart-topping hits like GOT7's "Q," SHINee's "U Need Me," and Moon Byul's "Lunatic." Their futuristic hip-hop-infused sound and knack for crafting an earworm melody have made them the go-to producers for idols and companies looking to churn out a smash hit.
Despite their success, MONOTREE has stayed humble. The producing trio is known for their kind, easygoing personalities and close collaborative relationships with the artists they work with. Their down-to-earth nature combined with an unmatched talent for producing pop perfection is what has cemented MONOTREE as a leading visionary in the K-pop industry.
Thanks to their impressive track record and star power, MONOTREE now has the clout to handpick the artists they want to work with. The sky's the limit for these star producers, and K-pop fans worldwide eagerly await MONOTREE's next big hit. The producing masterminds behind K-pop's catchiest songs are here to stay.
The Making of a K-pop Hit: MONOTREE's Signature Sound and Style
MONOTREE has developed a signature K-pop sound that incorporates trendy genres like future bass, trap, and synth wave. Their tracks are instantly recognisable, full of catchy melodies, hard-hitting beats, and futuristic sound effects. They’re experts at crafting an energetic and youthful vibe that resonates with K-pop fans worldwide.
Some hallmarks of the MONOTREE sound include:
Heavy synth basslines and electronic beats
Memorable hooks and choruses
Layered synths and sound effects
A mix of Korean and English lyrics
A high-energy, youthful tone
MONOTREE's Impressive Discography: A Look at Their Biggest Songs
Some of their biggest hits from 2022 include:
MCND - “#Mood”
DRIPPIN – “Delusion”
BoA – “The Greatest”
UP10TION – “Give Love”
ONEUS – “Bring It On”
Apink Chobom – “Oscar”
Mamamoo – “1,2,3, Eoi!”
Moonbyul – “Lunatic”
ONF – “Your Song,” “Runaway”
Yoon Jisung – “Bloom”
Luminous – “Engine”
And they are already making waves in 2023:
8TURN - "Say My Name"
TXT - "Goodbye Now" (Love Revolution OST)
Hyojin - "Love Things"
Peak Time - "Skyscraper," "Chamomile"
JUJU SECRET - "Lonely Night"
MAMAMOO+ - "GGBB"
MONOTREE's impressive discography speaks for itself. In just a few short years, the production team behind K-pop's biggest hits has crafted an eclectic collection of songs spanning genres from bubblegum pop to EDM. Their forward-thinking, globally-minded approach to producing and songwriting has launched numerous K-pop artists into the mainstream and continues to push the genre in new directions. With MONOTREE leading the charge, the future of K-pop looks very bright.
The Future of K-pop: What's Next for MONOTREE?
As K-pop continues to gain popularity on the global stage, MONOTREE is poised to help take the genre to new heights. They’ve already proven themselves as visionaries with an ear for hits, but their ambition and talent know no bounds.
Expansion into other genres. While MONOTREE has focused on pop, they’ve dabbled in R&B, hip-hop, and EDM. As K-pop incorporates more styles, MONOTREE will likely experiment further. They may produce singles, EPs, or full albums in other genres for top K-pop groups.
Breaking into Western markets. MONOTREE has already gained international fans, especially in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Producing songs for Western artists could increase their audience base. Collaborations with Western producers are also possible, fusing styles in groundbreaking ways.
One thing is certain, the future is bright for MONOTREE and K-pop. With their catchy songs, memorable style, and global appeal, MONOTREE will continue breaking down barriers. They've helped transform K-pop into a worldwide phenomenon, and the best may still be yet to come.
So there you have it, an inside look at the talented trio behind some of your favourite K-pop hits. MONOTREE may work behind the scenes, but their impact on the K-pop industry and music scene is huge and definitely at the forefront. Keep an eye out for their name on new releases, they are sure to keep cranking out catchy songs and propelling more groups to stardom. I hope this glimpse into their world has left you wanting more from the talented MONOTREE masterful music makers.
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