K-pop Artist of the Month: Monsta X (몬스타엑스)

I have chosen Monsta X (몬스타엑스) as the K-pop Artist of the Month for December because I have followed them since their debut in 2015. They have so much passion for music and their determination to not give up on their own dream is so amazing. All the previous albums that they have released have been strong and they were able to establish themselves as excellent artists in the industry. I hope this album makes an impact which all Monbebes will enjoy and be proud of the boys.

Monsta X has recently had a comeback with their dynamic fifth mini-album, The Code. The theme for this comeback seems to be time-related, as the majority of the tracks relate to the topic of time. During this album, the members Jooheon and I.M co-wrote many of the lyrics. Will they be able to deliver on this album and make Monbebes happy?

Album Review

Track 1- “Dramarama”

Dramarama is the title track and in my option, it’s an okay song. I feel that the song is not very strong compared to previous title songs. I had to listen to it a few times in order to really like it. This song has a bold sound but there are a few surprising elements that set this track apart from other typical dance-pop tracks. I do enjoy the layered, choral, cappella opening with the gradual harmony in the vocals which builds up suspense. This leads to a surprisingly relaxed electric guitar line inspired by the genres of funk and pop rock. The group has two very strong rappers IM and Jooheon, each of them has their own unique style, and during the climax of this track, they engage in a call and answer style of rapping which matches well with their styles. This is a very interesting technique and it really works well with the track.

Track 2 – “Now or Never”

I like this track much better. This song gives off a powerful vibe which is accompanied by the excellent rapping. I really enjoy the powerful rap at the beginning of the song. It gives the track a dark vibe. During the track, there are recurring dance breaks. This is a perfect opportunity for the group to showcase their synchronised moves. Monsta X can dance and I can’t wait to see their dance to this song. The thing I don’t like about this track is the overuse of auto-tune. It does not do any favours to the track, however, it does contrast with Kihyun’s beautiful vocals to give the track some sassy charm to the audience who is listening.

Track 3 – “In Time”

This track is an R&B-inspired ballad and only the ballad track on the album. Even though the rappers are featured on this track, it’s the vocalists that really stand out. There are five singers in the group and they all bring different colours to the track. The best vocalist in this group for this song is Kihyun. He has a powerful voice which really suits the song, making it’s very soothing. This song makes it perfect to enjoy on a chilly evening at home.

Track 4 – “From Zero”

This is a soft pop tune, which has a few surprises such as the techno break in the chorus. This is something I really like, as it’s a track that bridges the more energetic tracks from the more mellow tracks. This song has been performed as a duet with Wonho and Hyungwon at their concerts earlier this year. Now they have released the studio version, which has included all the rest of the members, soft and delicate vocals.

Track 5 – “X”

This song screams out hip hop and when the members rap you can hear the anger-fueled awesomeness here. I want to see this song to be performed as I can imagine that a lot of energy will be given off. I can imagine it to be a very powerful stage that will not be forgettable. I enjoy listening to Korean hip hop and this song is a hidden gem on this mini-album. From the vocals and raps, everything came together really well to form a great track. However, I feel like this song also uses auto-tune a bit too much and I prefer to hear the vocals/raps more clearly.

Track 6 – “Tropical Night”

This track starts off as a quiet pop piece but ends being quite bold and in your face. It a slow jam song, which has R&B influences. This is my favourite song on the album. The track has a deeper meaning in the way it has been arranged. The interactions between the vocalists and rappers during the chorus brings a breath of fresh of air to the track. This is something that Monsta X has not achieved before. It has worked very beautifully for this track.

Track 7 – “Déjà vu”

Déjà vu is a loud, adrenaline-pumping track that great to dance too. When I first listened to this track, I felt there was an urgent vibe as there is a rapid opening which makes the song feel very fast. However, listening to it carefully, the song is actually slower in tempo. I really like the contrast between the beat. My favourite part of the song is the chorus, as it’s like an anthem-like chant, it will have you nodding along to the beat.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this album has been great. I really enjoyed listening to the songs. Monsta X has shown growth with The Code and has still kept true to their roots. I felt that majority of the songs on the album were very heavily inspired by the pop genre, however, they managed to bring in elements that make the songs fresh and different, making the album memorable. The only thing I really didn’t like about this album, is that the overuse of auto-tune. This was unnecessary as we know that the all the members have great voices. I want to hear the actual voices shine through. Each track is unique in their way and it has been great to listen to Monsta X’s new album.

Just the facts: Social media edition

If you are not already a Monsta X fan, it still worth checking out the variety of tracks that they have on offer. You will find a favourite song which you can get your dance on every time it comes on. Please continue to support them and make them more successful. Until next time have a great month and watch out for my next article.

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