Alright, who’s up for some energetic, hip-hop jams? How about some bittersweet, melodic ballads? Electropop? Rambunctious boys? Green track suits? Lots of yelling? Sweet. Meet Monsta X, a South Korean hip-hop-focused boy group signed under Starship Entertainment—the record label behind K.Will, Hyolyn, Sistar, Boyfriend, and many more—who are currently in the finishing up the U.S. leg of their first world tour, Beautiful in the U.S. The group, currently at their Los Angeles stop, has already performed shows in Chicago, NYC, Atlanta, Dallas, and San Francisco. (I had the opportunity to attend the NYC show on July 14 at Playstation Theatre, but more on that mind-blowing experience later.)
Monsta X is Starship Entertainment’s first hip-hop boy group, comprised of leader and vocalist Shownu, vocalists Wonho, Minhyuk, Kihyun, and Hyungwon, and rappers Jooheon and I.M. The septet debuted together back in May of 2015 with their first mini-album Trespass as a result of Mnet’s survival program NO.MERCY. Since then, Monsta X has had several other EP releases, as well as full-length album The Clan Pt. 2.5 ‘Beautiful’ (also known as The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter, being the third part their Clan series), and repackaged album Shine Forever, their most recent release. The group is making a steady rise in popularity, particularly overseas, and is starting to attract international attention. The title track for The Clan Pt. 2.5, “Beautiful,” actually debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s World Albums chart, No. 10 on the Heatseekers Albums chart, and No. 4 on the World Digital Song Sales chart, while the album itself set a record high for the group in terms of American sales. This isn’t the first time they’ve been on the charts, too.
Alright, back to the world tour. Now, let me just start off by saying that Monsta X sold out all of their shows in the U.S.—an amazing feat that made their fans (Monbebes) proud. To my knowledge, online ticket sales were a nightmare. I heard first-account horror stories. But anyway, aside from that, and aside from an unfortunate lack of organization that lead to line mishaps and a delay in start time (but I’m not bitter, no, not me), and… and aside from the terrible weather… okay, aside from a lot of things, the concert was absolutely amazing. The boys truly owned the stage, displaying a raw energy and just… complete joy in performance. By the amount of times members (mostly Jooheon) shouted their love for New York, you could tell that they were having a blast, themselves.
Along with their released tracks, small units within the group performed special stages: Wonho performed his original song “From Zero”; Shownu, Minhyuk, and I.M did a cover of Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic”; and Kihyun and Jooheon did a remake/cover of Lil Wayne’s “Mirror (feat. Bruno Mars).” There were so many more amazing moments packed into this two hour concert—the boys throwing candy into the pit, the concert-goers holding up banners that read “I’ll protect you, so that you can bloom more beautifully” during the final song, the moment after the show when fans (including my in-shock self) got to see the boys off (I will swear to you that Wonho looked at me). I could go on and on. Truthfully, it was my first K-pop concert, and though I was far from the stage and the pit, back in the seated section, I wouldn’t have wanted it to go any other way.
Well… okay, that’s a lie. Only six of the seven members were there, as Hyungwon was experiencing health problems and was unable to attend a good portion of the tour. During the concert, the other members expressed that he was recovering quickly, and made a point to showcase that he was absolutely still with them—an empty mic stand left for him, his spot left open in the choreography where possible (or taken by a backup dancer, as did happen for “From Zero”), Kihyun putting an arm out to leave a space for missing member in the final group photo. It was incredibly endearing seeing in person how close the boys are. Actual brothers, the lot of them.
All in all, best concert I ever went to. Shoutout to Powerhouse for bringing them to the U.S. and giving American Monbebes the opportunity to show the boys some love in person. Fortunately, Hyungwon was able to rejoin the group for their two LA performances. (I’m not bitter, no, not me.)
While at their NYC stop, Monsta X discussed their diversity as a K-pop group in an interview with Billboard. On the topic, Jooheon, who has written lyrics for and co-produced for the group, said that in their “songs, the music itself has a lot energy, so that combined with our member’s teamwork is probably why fans are drawn to us.” Regarding the genre blending usually found in K-pop, Minhyuk went on to say, “Our albums right now explore a lot of different genres, like R&B, ballads, hip-hop, rap. Our future works are definitely going to keep doing that.” While they will still continue to explore different genres, Wonho claimed that the members want to revisit their style from earlier releases, hip-hop. Leader Shownu then said that he doesn’t know what’s next for Monsta X, but they “want to be able to come back to the fans as soon as possible with new music and concerts.”
They also touched on the members’ solo projects, which youngest member (and resident English speaker) I.M claimed are good opportunities for the group to grow as entertainers—“so that everyone can know that Monsta X themselves, as individuals, have their own colors.”
Several members have already done so, branching out to reality shows (such as Shownu’s appearance on the beauty show Lipstick Prince), performing tracks for TV series (as Kihyun has done for several shows), and releasing mixtapes and other original content (as Jooheon and I.M have done, most recently with their collaborative track, BeMyFriend).
So what is next for Monsta X? Well, they’ll be finishing up their world tour soon, and are set to release a special summer song, “Newton” on the 27th. Also, the second season of their reality show “Monsta X-Ray” is currently airing on the group’s V Live (a popular livestreaming site/app). Even in their down time, they’re still busy. C’est la vie, I suppose.
Phew, alright. If any or all of that has piqued your interest, you can check out all things Monsta X—music videos, live performances, etc.—at the links below!