MONSTA X have come a long way since their appearance on the 2015 reality TV series No Mercy. Over the last six years, the group – consisting of Shownu, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Joohoney and I.M, along with former member Wonho – have released multiple albums, received numerous accolades and gone on three world tours.
The MONSTA X sound has also evolved over their four Korean studio albums, one English-language full-length records and nine mini-albums, with members like Joohoney, I.M and Hyungwon taking turns to write and compose several of their 119 songs (we’re not counting Japanese releases here).
From chart-topping title tracks to underrated B-sides and even fan favourite non-album releases, we explore the breadth of their discography through the years and rank their songs. Happy Monbebe Day!
119‘Calm Down’ (2016)
“Let’s stop, calm down”, Joohoney instructs on the song, and the producers could have taken his advice here; the frenzied beats and melody is a bit over the top at times, which could potentially be (if not already) headache inducing. Though if there was at least one salvageable part of this track, it would be Hyungwon’s valiant rap attempt.
118‘No Reason’ (2019)
This Wonho-penned track on ‘Take.2 We Are Here’ has some beautiful lyrical imagery (“Your emotions surge like the waves / Your words blow in like a storm”), but it’s sadly overshadowed by the members’ unusually-high pitched vocals.
117‘Give Me Dat’ (2019)
While this song showcases the rap line in good shape – I.M’s desperate delivery of the final line “Is this possibly only difficult for me?” being a highlight – the vocalists’ distribution is quite disparate, with Hyungwon only singing two lines in the entire track.
116‘I’ll Be There (넌 어때)’ (2017)
This final track on ‘The Clan, Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter’ is at odds with itself. The vocalists carry this across as a sweet, confession song (“I like you so I’m singing for you”), while the rappers amp up their alpha male approach (“If you’re gonna reject me, no thanks”).
115‘Steal Your Heart (훔쳐)’ (2015)
If the song’s intro bit sounds familiar, it’s the interlude heard at the start of the ‘Trespass’ music video as it introduced the MONSTA X members. Equivalent to a diss track’ of sorts, this was a likely attempt at injecting some badassery into their image: (“We’ll steal it, you know this / It’s getting more and more boring, this is too easy”).
Six (!) producers on the composer credits make this penultimate ‘Take.2 We Are Here’ track a classic case of “too-many-cooks”. While its dramatic opening is intriguing and the lead-up to the chorus is well paced, it climaxes into a cacophony of EDM effects that drowns out parts of the vocals.
113‘Beautiful Night’ (2020)
All is fine and dandy with this seemingly loving number off ‘Fantasia X’ , until Joohoney and Hyungwon pull out this line: “There is no exit for you, forever”. Well, that escalated quickly. It also brings to mind the next track…
112‘No Exit (출구는 없어)’ (2015)
The boyband project a bad-boy vibe consistent with their urban hip-hop image at the time. It also shows just how much leader Shownu’s vocals have come into their own since his debut, as his now-distinct vocal tone is pretty much unrecognisable here.
111‘Be Quiet’ (2016)
Definitely an interesting title for the noisiest song in the ‘The Clan Pt. 2: Guilty’ mini-album. The focus here appeared to be more on its scratchy synths and rough EDM beats, prefaced by I.M’s “be quiet” whisper.
110‘Gone Bad (삐뚤어질래)’ (2015)
Truly a curious fusion of what could be considered contracting musical elements: brassy beats, Latin guitars and even a touch of cowbell. Meanwhile,the lyrics appear to be a rather extreme reaction to a break up: “You used to call me pathetic / But when you look at me again in the future / Let’s see how well you’re doing”.
Parts of this song are still “worthy of praise”, despite the grating frenzy of its EDM sound. For example, I.M’s rhythmic cadence and lyricality: “We can be a painting / Baby, call it the finishing strokes”.
Even a strong melody and Kihyun’s impressive four-note ending weren’t quite able to make up for its awkward K-pop English lyrics “I’m in chaotic” isn’t exactly grammatical , and “We are so late / Can’t turn back now” merely implies that they’re late for an appointment.
Written by I.M, Joohoney and rapper Giriboy, this song’s title has two possible meanings: “Surrounding you / A dazzling light / You make me blind” and “I wanna rip apart the blinds that cover you”. It’s also probably best remembered for its repetitive hook: “She go low”, “I go high” and “보여줘” (boyeojweo, or ‘show me’ in Korean).
106‘Intro: Are You There?’ (2018)
A Stereo14-produced sonic introduction to the ‘Take.1 Are You There?’ album, which incorporates brief vocal samples from both Joohoney and Kihyun. It’s a pity that the piano-meets-EDM melody ends a little prematurely.
105‘Interstellar (인터스텔라)’ (2015)
This Yella Diamond-produced track has Joohoney, I.M and Hyungwon sharing their thoughts as they prepped themselves for stardom with some pretty stellar rap verses. Too bad Yella D’s own feature wasn’t as out of this world.
104‘Stuck (네게만 집착해)’ (2016)
Not sure if the line “I’m only obsessed with you / But I’m not dangerous, so baby don’t worry” is meant to flatter or elicit fear in said lady – even if it is said by MONSTA X. Obsessive declarations aside, the song’s different parts (particularly the EDM dance break towards the end) manage to be cohesive, despite an overpowering backing track.
103‘Deja Vu’ (2017)
I.M and Joohoney sum up this song pretty well in each of their own rap verses: “Feels like I’ve seen you before” and “Familiar yet unfamiliar / My head is confused”. There is an odd sense of déjà vu here; maybe it’s the G-Dragon vibe, which Joohoney also channels in the chorus.
Despite its piercing melody and being overly repetitive this song – co-written by Wonho, Joohoney and I.M with fellow Starship Entertainment singer-songwriter Brother Su – has some pretty good lyrical advice. As Minhyuk reminds us, “Life is short, you don’t know what’s gonna happen”.
101‘Crazy In Love’ (미쳤으니까) (2018)
The rap line makes way for the vocal line to confess their “crazy love” in this track from ‘The Connect’. It’s refreshing to hear the vocalists taking turns to sing each part of the chorus, instead of Kihyun bearing the weight on his own.
100‘Rush (신속히)’ (2015)
The follow-up single to ‘Trespass’ – co-written, composed and arranged by Giriboy – gets a little weighed down by the layers of synths, laser effects and bass. Though some of I.M’s bars shine through: “They don’t move hearts, they’re so bland,” he says of love rivals, “All of you are not seasoned at all / I’ll put some salt on you.”
99‘One Love’ (2015)
While most songs on ‘Trespass’ are fronted by the rap line, ‘One Love’ gives Kihyun the opportunity to showcase high notes during the bridge: “Where is the person / Who said I was enough? / I am waiting like this.”
98‘All I Do (너만 생각해)’ (2017)
This song is pretty much the epitome of an all-consuming infatuation. “I close my eyes and I can see you clearly,” Shownu sings, while Wonho laments, “I can’t do anything else / Every single day,” Here, the The 1975-esque electric guitar riff leading the song adds an interesting layer to its synth melody.
97‘Honestly (솔직히 말할까)’ (2015)
The song’s sweet, piano-led melody clash with its ‘honest’ lyrics: “I’m trying to end it / I’m gonna make you cry for the last time / I’m gonna erase you completely”. It’s also notable for featuring Dasom of senior Starship Entertainment girl group SISTAR.
96‘By My Side’ (2018)
“[The song] is comforting,” Joohoney says of the final ‘Take.1 Are You There?’ to Buzzfeed Celeb. While it does start out that way, it also ends up getting a little lost in its own insecurities (“I don’t want to be hurt so I firmly shut the door”). It would have been nice to hear more of the opening and closing lines, now the song’s signature: “I love you all day / I love you always”.
95‘Miss You’ (2017)
This is probably one of the songs from their earlier catalogue that has a more reasonable lyric distribution, particularly for Minhyuk, who sings a sizable part both in the song’s opening and towards the end.
94‘Unfair Love (반칙이야)’ (2016)
Add this to your gym or jogging playlist – because if Joohoney’s frenzied rap here doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping, we’re not sure what else will.
93‘Burn It Up’ (2019)
Led by an ominous chiming of church bells, this is the musical exorcism of a love that’s left behind a sour aftertaste.
92‘Mohae (어디서 뭐해)’ (2018)
Listen closely and you might draw some similarities between this song and I.M’s 2021 solo single ‘God Damn’. No surprise then that both tracks were composed and arranged by the rapper himself, along with producer Wooki.
Hyungwon’s vocals are a stand out here, along with the chorus’ vocal/rap juxtapositions between Kihyun, Minhyuk and I.M, and Shownu and Joohoney. The only blip, if any, would be its abrupt, nondescript ending.
90‘Perfect Girl’ (2016)
The ‘Rush’ song moves along at a slow, sensuous pace, till it reaches I.M’s rap towards the end. “Wait a minute girl / Let’s take it slow / I think it’s a bit fast right now”, he cautions (rather ironically), yet ending off with a pick-up line of sorts: “Can you put an oxygen mask on my lips / I want your lips to touch mine”.
89‘Because Of U’ (2016)
MONSTA X tones things down with this jazz-synth ditty, which has Shownu and Kihyun both tapping into their falsettos for the chorus. It’s also fun to listen to the rap line bantering back and forth about the reasons they like someone.
88‘Turbulence (난기류)’ (2019)
Amid the song’s turbulent vibes, Kihyun brings a sense of stability with consistent mentions of its title peppered throughout.
87‘Spotlight’ (Korean Version) (2018)
Originally from MONSTA X’s first Japanese album ‘Piece’, this song’s Korean lyrics – written by Wonho, Joohoney and I.M – have the guys likening themselves to “a tiger moth that’s lost its way”, and beckons for their love interest to “shine on [them] and save [them]”.
Though the song takes a whole 18 seconds before actually starting, it’s pretty much unstoppable once it takes off. And though the rap line’s vocals are a little heavy on the vocoder in the beginning, it thankfully eases off later on.
85‘Beside U’ (2020)
A sweet declaration of love or a creepy song about obsession? The jury is still out on this catchy Pitbull-assisted track, which was co-written by the one and only Timbaland. There’s no question, however, that the I.M rap version sounds much fuller and more complete.
84‘It Ain’t Over’ (2020)
“It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” as the saying goes, and that’s exactly what goes in this offbeat R&B track off ‘Fantasia X’. The song sees the Boyband fighting to keep the one they love by their side – but on their terms.
83‘White Love (하얀소녀)’ (2016)
A lighthearted Joohoney- and I.M-penned tune that has the entire group – yes, even the rap line – singing about wanting to be loved by a girl who’s pure as snow. It features a refreshing acoustic guitar-led melody, which even culminates into a surprisingly rousing sing-along at the end.
82‘Livin It Up’ (Korean Version) (2021)
This upbeat ode to the much-anticipated Friday night was originally from MONSTA X’s 2019 Japanese release ‘Phenomenon’. “On this exciting Friday night / I’ll keep it short / Livin’ it up, you’ll only get one chance”, Kihyun and Minhyuk beckon on its Korean version, reminding us that we “only live once”.
81‘U R’ (2019)
There are telling signs that I.M had a hand in the creation of this mellow ‘Follow: Find You’ jam – the surge of English lyrics being one. Some lyrical gems include this part of Joohoney’s rap: “We need to reawaken our memories / And remain in that time while the time stops.”
80‘Shine Forever’ (2017)
Every member of MONSTA X get their moment to shine on this emotive single. When compared to their other title tracks, however, this song’s chorus – peppered with “Shine Forever” along with other choice complimentary words (“I’m the only spotlight on you / Every moment you’re here is a highlight”) – lacks impact.
79‘Got My Number’ (2020)
When hip-hop vibes meet ballad sensibilities, ‘Got My Number’ is the result. As the vibing chorus goes: “If you need someone who can love you while he’s gone / Baby, you got my number, got my number”.
78‘Ghost (악몽)’ (2019)
“You consume me deeply like a dreadful nightmare”, sings a despondent Minhyuk, making reference to its Korean title (‘악몽’, or ‘akmong’). The various effects here – from the twinkling piano notes to spooky synths – fit well with the song’s overall eeriness, though others could have been taken down a notch.
Smooth from start to finish, right down to its sax outro. MONSTA X’s very first English song on a Korean release – written by Hyungwon together with Joohoney and I.M – is one that would have fit right in on ‘All About Luv’.
76‘Who Do U Love?’ (2019)
This sleek number has MONSTA X asking their fans a very fundamental question: “Who do you love? Is it him or me?” – safe to say Monbebe know the answer to that.
75‘Roller Coaster’ (2016)
Even before the newtro trend made its way through the Korean entertainment scene in 2019, MONSTA X had already added a touch of it in this song, with elements of city pop and retro beats.
The high-energy ‘Fantasia’ has no qualms about being loudly flamboyant and flamboyantly loud. Its dance routine is also one of the most rigorous, which MONSTA X themselves apparently termed “the devil’s choreography”.
73‘Guess Who’ (2020)
Joohoney’s breathy “X, X” refrain, together with Hyungwon and Shownu’s husky vocal delivery, might actually be what puts the “fatal” in this ‘Fatal Love’ track. There are also some suggestive mentions within, like I.M’s “No frontin’ babe, I can feel you want my body”.
72‘Incomparable (넘사벽)’ (2017)
Its Korean title is an abbreviation for the term ‘a four-dimensional wall that can’t be climbed over’, with I.M likening it to the person in question in his rap. “I’ll just break through it”, he continues, as the song reaches its crescendo.
71‘If Only’ (2018)
Written, composed and arranged by Wonho, this mid-tempo track off ‘The Connect’ has the boyband reeling from the pain of a separation. “Can’t I cut this day out / So tomorrow won’t be able to come?” pleads Joohoney, whose tender vocals are a stand out here.
70‘See You Again’ (2019)
In July 2021, Monbebe trended “#SeeYouAgainShownu” as MONSTA X’s leader enlisted in the military. It’s almost poignant then that Shownu himself repeats a “see you again” refrain towards this song’s end. As fans continue to await his return, many are likely to hold these lyrics to heart: “For the day we meet once more / Baby I’m missing you / See you again”.
“I’ve heard people say that the lyrics are kind of racy,” I.M previously said about the lyrics of ‘Rotate’. “That wasn’t my intention, but as I wrote the lyrics, I think the song’s vibe kind of ended up like that.” Sure, I.M, then explain this: “I like to make dirty / All day all night”.
68‘Broken Heart’ (2015)
This piano-driven ballad from ‘Rush’ is anchored by Kihyun and Shownu’s emotional back-and-forth in the chorus, along with this heart wrenching revelation in the bridge: “Though I don’t want to acknowledge it / I don’t think I’ve forgotten you yet”.
67‘Love U’ (2020)
Shownu described this ‘All About Luv’ song as one that “showcases the brighter aspects of love” in the Billboard album breakdown, though Kihyun was right when he said to “pay a little more attention to the lyrics”: “The way you look right now is so unfair / Just grab my hand and lead me up the stairs / Because I want you”.
This dark, sultry track off ‘One Of A Kind’ is a much more sophisticated take on the theme of obsession, compared to MONSTA X’s previous releases. The magnetism of a dangerous love is made even more alluring with its seductive vocalisation, and a soundscape that chronicles that slide down a slippery slope.
Between shifts of moody, Brit-rock-inspired riffs and soaring electronic pop melodies are poetic phrases: “Within your embrace more languid than velvet / I lean deep inside in hopes of sleeping just like this”.
64‘One Day’ (2021)
For better or worse, MONSTA X’s latest English single is one of their shortest singles to date. Beneath its upbeat demeanour are lyrics that hint at having to let go of love against their will: “I wish you the best with somebody new / But they’ll never love ya like I do”.
63‘Sweetheart’ (백설탕) (2016)
This song is indeed as sweet as its Korean title, which translates to ‘white sugar’ (baekseoltang), particularly with its mostly gushing, shy boy-esque lyrics. Its chorus is catchy and simple enough to follow, making it easy to sing along with.
62‘Now Or Never’ (2017)
The urgency in the rap line’s voices serves well in emphasising how life is all about seizing the day, though the lyrics gradually come across as being a tad preachy as it moves along.
“You make me jealous, baby,” I.M whispers, pretty much summing up the premise of their ‘The Connect’ title track. It’s even to the point here that the guys turn on each other on the song, with Wonho asking pointedly, “Why are you talking about Shownu again?”
Simply three-and-a-half minutes of raw energy, with high-pitched trumpet-esque sounds (from the taepyeongso (태평소), a traditional Korean wind instrument similar to an oboe) that blend in with the song’s EDM and moombahton beats. The other most memorable part of this song? Two words: “tiki taka”.
Minhyuk considers this slow-burn jam about an outwardly dysfunctional relationship as his favourite, as shared in a Buzzfeed Celeb song ranking video. Such expressions of love may not work for everyone, and may even be misunderstood by some, but MONSTA X wants listeners to know that they are not alone in their feels.
58‘Blue Moon’ (2015)
Written and composed by Joohoney with I.M, this is most mellow out of their tracks on their debut mini-album, and refreshingly so. Aside from some melismatic inflections towards the end, the members’ rap and singing voices consistently match its overall feel. And how could anyone resist singing along with Joohoney’s refrain?
This is a special track for Joohoney especially as he’d written it while he was still a trainee. Its impressive trap and brass breakdown is clearly a focal point here, alongside some fun wordplay and a fun Cinderella reference.
The guys experience a “heart-quake” on this boom bap-influenced ditty off ‘Follow: Find You’, likening the person of their affections as a ‘disaster’ that drives them wild on the inside: “My body’s like cold as ice ya / The time is tickin’ roll the dice ya / And I’ll be run in circles everywhere I go / I think I’m stuck in your zone”.
55‘Kiss or Death’ (2021)
Along with Shownu’s ascending vocalisations in the chorus of this Universe promotional single, the other key moment in this song is having Joohoney emphasise “Gasp gasp, what can save me is your KISS” in his intro rap.
54‘Happy Without Me’ (2020)
This English track is for those who have been there, felt that; MONSTA X hits the nail on the head in capturing the thoughts of seeing an ex months after the break-up.
When MONSTA X were asked in a 2018 Buzzfeed video about the genres they’d like to try in future, Kihyun said “rock” without any hesitation. This track off ‘The Connect’ probably comes closest to it, with rock-influenced drum beats layered alongside pulsing trap music.
52‘Ready Or Not’ (2017)
The boyband reminds us that life doesn’t come with a preview on this high-energy cut from ‘The Clan, Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter’; we just have to live it and make it ours.
51‘Trespass (무단침입)’ (2015)
This hard-hitting debut single gave listeners an edgy, upfront introduction to MONSTA X. Its rap-focused chorus placed Joohoney front and centre with his (already) charismatic delivery and swagger, accentuated by the vocalists’ harmonies, led by Kihyun.
This bossa nova-inspired tune is the boyband’s contribution to a summer playlist, with Joohoney describing it as a “cool drive song that’s good to listen to on a hot day” in a Hankyung interview.
49‘I Do Love U (널하다)’ (2018)
MONSTA X’s vocal line takes the spotlight in this bright, chirpy tune. It’s filled with a number of sing-along moments, from the extended “Love” refrain at the chorus’ end, to Minhyuk’s ”More today than yesterday, no even more tomorrow” chant as the song wraps up.
“‘Zone’ is in the EDM style, so it’s fun to listen to,” said I.M, who took the lead with the lyrics here. And the rapper has no qualms about making this known, especially from his sly line: “You know that maknae is the one with power here”.
Step aside, ‘Party Time’ – this is no doubt the ‘Take.2 We Are Here’ party anthem. Its unassuming latin-influenced guitars in the beginning make no indication that it’s the hyper sonic shindig it turns out to be. The build up towards the pounding chorus is palpable, giving it an impactful burst of energy when it finally drops.
46‘She’s The One’ (2020)
Don’t let the title fool you; as much as this could have been a song about the one, this is also about the one at the centre of the boyband’s heartbreak. The most heart-wrenching parts of the song come at the end the chorus, when Kihyun belts: “‘Cause she probably doesn’t even know this song’s about her”.
45‘Last Carnival’ (2020)
Adding a touch of whimsy to ‘Fatal Love’ is this dreamy tune. There’s even a Beauty and the Beast reference alluding to a moonlight waltz (“The beast that fell in love at first sight, it’s me / Oh, hi there beauty, shall we dance once again?”).
44‘Need U (니가 필요해)’ (2017)
A pleasant mid-tempo track that’s part love song, part plea of acceptance, because “other people are meaningless”, as Wonho puts it.
43‘Oh My!’ (2018)
Another MONSTA X song that never fails to hype up the crowd. The ethnic flute sounds add a hypnotic energy, but it’s also the vocals and momentum shifts that really give it buoyancy.
A sweet tribute written by Hyungwon, this sentimental number no doubt melts the hearts of its namesakes. “It expresses my commitment to the fans who’ve been with us the last six years,” he explained in an interview with Korean outlet Hankyung.
41‘Night View’ (2020)
An ambient-pop number said to be inspired by a moonlit night at I.M’s studio, the rapper’s self-penned track helped give ‘Love Killa’ a much needed reprieve from its more intense offerings with its chill vibes.
“Yes I’m a champion / Because I can knock down anyone / Call me a fighter”, I.M boldly declares on the ‘The Clan Pt. 2 Guilty’ title track, which documents the determination and fighting spirit of wanting to win over the one they love. In an interesting twist, its accompanying music video pays homage to the sci-fi/horror series Stranger Things.
Here’s a look at a cuter, brighter side MONSTA X. It embodies the excitement of a secret crush through sparkly chimes, cheerful trumpet music and quirky audio samples. Even the rap line trades their aggressive rap style for a more bashful approach: “For some reason / I feel smaller when I’m in front of you / But I wanna see you now / My pounding heart beats for you”.
“It don’t matter / We do it better”, proclaim MONSTA X on this beastly number, with an attitude and intensity tailored just for them. Despite its aggressive vibe, the song – co-written and -composed by Korean-American singer Eric Nam – also has its moments of vulnerability: “Reach out and hold on to us, we need your love”.
37‘Party Time’ (2019)
This song is proof that ‘party time’ doesn’t always have to be over-the-top. It’s the boyband’s way of telling themselves to slow down and relish all they have achieved. Aside from the leisurely chorus, I.M’s cheeky rap (“We’re gonna go crazy today / Our CEO’s gonna pay for it anyway yeah”) is also what’s fun about this song.
36‘Nobody Else’ (2020)
When it comes to this sophisticated mid-tempo track off ‘Fatal Love’, nobody else was more jittery about its release than the songwriter himself. “I’m… excited and nervous to be able to perform my first self-composed song with this album,” said Hyungwon.
35‘In Time’ (2017)
This addition to ‘The Code’ – written and composed by Joohoney – brims with emotion and longing. He’s also the one who briefly breaks away from the melancholy with an impassioned rap about how he deals with past memories: “I’d tightly bite my lower lips / and fill my emotions into many notebooks”.
34‘You Can’t Hold My Heart’ (2020)
The wistfulness of this ‘All About Luv’ track not only lingers through its lyrics but also in its instrumentals. There is also a sense of the boyband standing their ground via the transition between Shownu and Wonho’s gentler stanzas and Kihyun’s firmer, higher-toned delivery.
33‘Intro: We Are Here’ (2019)
I.M provides an ASMR-worthy narration on this EDM intro, which kicks off part two of their second full-length album. Every aspect of it works: from its storyteller approach, to its pacing and momentum, and even the tempo shift of the ticking timepiece, serving as a metronome of sorts.
32‘Lost In The Dream’ (2018)
This electronic pop number will forever be immortalised by Kihyun’s incredibly high notes in its bridge. “When I was recording this song, I almost died,” he recounted in the live comeback show for ‘The Connect’. Despite all his best efforts, that moment unfortunately gets overpowered by the incoming final chorus.
31‘Find You’ (2019)
Ask any Monbebe about ‘Find You’ and you might spot a fleeting sadness in their eyes. This song pulls at the heartstrings because it was released just days before Wonho’s departure from the group in 2019, with its lyrics inadvertently yet perfectly expressing the longing many fans felt at the time: “Every day, I miss you till I get tired and go to sleep / Tomorrow, will I get to see you?”
While not an official release, no list of MONSTA X songs would be complete without this almighty rap line anthem. Over six minutes of unadulterated lyrical ferocity unleashed by the self-proclaimed “kings of this era”, ‘Sambakja’ (‘삼박자’, or ‘triple rhythm’) continues to make waves within the fandom since Joohoney and I.M debuted it on the ‘We Are Here’ World Tour stage in 2019.
29‘Stand Together (대동단결)’ (2020)
Part rousing anthem, part fierce war cry – this Joohoney-written track is one that truly puts the ‘MONSTA’ in their name. As a fun easter egg: I.M’s rap also references Kihyun’s (rather lucrative) investment in entertainment company Kakao M – also the parent company of their label, Starship Entertainment.
Teaming up with Colombian singer Sebastian Yatra, MONSTA X made their first foray into Latin pop on this cross-cultural collaboration. Both artists were excited to have worked with each other on this groovy track, with the boyband telling Teen Vogue about how it “symbolises the future of global music”.
Joohoney wrote this emotionally intense track with I.M, and it’s particularly meaningful to the rapper as it marked his return from a four-month break to focus on his mental health. His message for fans? “Let’s stop paddling and just go with the flow in life,” said the rapper, per The Korea Herald.
26‘Gasoline (갈증)’ (2020)
This tropical, marimba-infused number first caused a stir among Monbebe when it was teased as being part of ‘Fantasia X’, but eventually didn’t appear on the mini-album. But it was certainly worth the wait, though, when it was finally released.
25‘Lonely Christmas (그놈의 크리스마스)’ (2017)
MONSTA X sing about their Christmas blues in this Joohoney original. “Oh sadly Christmas / Don’t leave me here all sad, oh girl”, Kihyun sings, but as melancholic as the song’s lyrics may seem, its laid back, festive vibe would still make a nice contrast to the usual merry Christmas music.
24‘Heart Attack’ (2018)
This underrated B-side from second studio album ‘Take.1 Are You There?’ ticks all the right boxes with its pulsing melody and addictive, rhythmic hook (“Oh, you give me a heart attack”).
More than just a snappy sing-along catchphrase, there were indeed references to the reptile in the lyrics of ‘Take.2 We Are Here’’s title track. “I’m pulling you into my swamp,” trills Kihyun, while the rap line includes this bar in their intense one-two exchange: “Like an alligator that has silent strength / I’ll take you in a moment”.
The group’s special summer song of 2017 brings together warm, carefree road trip vibes with the effervescence of love, with lyrics that are sweet without being too cloying (“Even the ocean sends waves towards you”). It was even brought back into prominence in late-2020 when it was featured in the fifth episode of K-drama Tale of the Nine Tailed.
The boyband bring out their soulful side on this charming R&B track from their repackaged ‘Shine Forever’ album, with adlibs and vocalisations from both Kihyun and Shownu interspersed throughout.
20‘Someone’s Someone’ (2020)
“We all wanna be someone’s / Wanna be someone’s, someone / With somebody we can’t live without” – this simple, heartfelt song from their English album ‘All About Luv’ is MONSTA X’s very own dedication to Monbebe. “Being someone’s someone means a lot to both parties and we want to be Monbebe’s someone,” they shared in the Billboard album breakdown.
19‘Monsta Truck’ (2019)
In a 2019 interview with Chicago radio station B96, MONSTA Xwere posed this “most-asked question” from the fans: What is the meaning behind ‘Monsta Truck’? “You gotta hop on [our truck] and ride with us. We’re going to take you wherever you wanna go.” I.M coolly explained in English. Judging from the other members’ amused expressions, this certainly goes beyond just a simple truck ride.
18‘Ex Girl’ (2016)
Featuring Wheein of MAMAMOO, this soothing B-side gives the boyband a rare chance to slow things down and reflect on the lead up to a relationship’s end. The emotive chorus comes to a close with Shownu and Wheein lamenting in unison, “Why do I struggle with our memories?”
17‘Sorry I’m Not Sorry’ (2020)
MONSTA X rounds off ‘Fatal Love’ with this smooth, laid-back guitar-driven number. Each member shines in their own way – particularly Joohoney with his delicate vocals – before coming together at the song’s end with well-blended harmonies.
16‘Fallin’ (폭우)’ (2018)
One could probably liken this high-energy jam to be MONSTA X’s very own ‘Party Rock Anthem’ a la LMFAO. The rockin’ EDM beat is more than enough to get Monbebe jumping along whenever the song is performed live. And when I.M goes “Babe focus on me like a meditation” – you can’t help but comply.
First performed by Shownu and Wonho on the group’s ‘We Are Here’ World Tour, this stirring, angst-ridden number eventually became the penultimate track off the ‘Follow: Find You’ mini-album. The song is also notable for featuring Shownu as one of its lyricists – alongside Wonho, Joohoney, I.M and Brother Su – his only production credit on any of the group’s Korean releases.
14‘5:14 (Last Page)’ (2017)
“We gotta slow it down / Remember this moment”, I.M and Joohoney remind us and themselves in the aptly-titled ‘5:14 (Last Page)’, which refers to MONSTA X’s debut date of May 14. Here, the boyband share their thoughts and concerns about the future, while expressing their gratitude towards fans (“Even if you’re not in front of me, I can feel your warmth”).
13‘Stand Up’ (2020)
Released during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘Stand Up’ truly became a positive and uplifting anthem for MONSTA X and Monbebe alike, with the reassurance that “After pain comes joy / Everything will come together”.
12‘Play It Cool’ (2019)
This Steve Aoki-produced deep house track gained popularity after the release of its English-language version, about a month after ‘Take.2 We Are Here’ dropped. With a confident swagger imbued in both in its sound and its lyrics, it’s easy to see how this collaboration with the American DJ-producer has done so well to date.
11‘Middle Of The Night’ (2020)
All members of MONSTA X (Wonho included) get writing and composing credits for this groovy English single, which they say is about “thoughts of regret after a break-up [while] reminiscing all the beautiful memories”, per Billboard. But there’s a sense of relenting too, if Shownu crooning “If you want me to stay for the rest of my life / You got me” is anything to go by.
‘Dramarama’ is the song that helped MONSTA X finally clinch their first-ever music show win in 2017, after two years in the industry. More than that, the song also marked a new era for the boyband, who’d start doubling down on using their singles’ titles as the hook of their songs, as heard in later releases like ‘Alligator’ and ‘Follow’.
MONSTA X took a gamble with this bass-thumping single, and it seems like it paid off indeed, especially with the song’s Best K-Pop nomination at the 2021 MTV VMAs. Joohoney – who wrote the lyrics and contributed to the overall composition and arrangement – also got to channel his inner Michael Jackson – whom he’s frequently cited as a musical role model – through his impressive vocals.
8‘Tropical Night (열대야)’ (2017)
If there’s anything the guys succeeded in showing through this Joohoney/I.M joint effort, it’s the charm of unpredictability. Despite frequent tempo switcheroos within, they are seemingly well-planned and paced. This is further accentuated by I.M’s vocoder drawl and some breakneck-speed rapping from Joohoney.
7‘From Zero’ (2017)
In a 2017 interview with Arirang TV’s Pops In Seoul to promote their album ‘The Code’, Wonho explained that the lyrics for the tropical house-tinged song was inspired by the 2013 movie About Time, adding that it “[expresses] the desire to go back to the beginning”. With his departure from the group two years later, his sentiment from this fan-favourite track is one that Monbebe continue to share when reminiscing on the past.
6‘Beautiful (아름다워)’ (2017)
Scottish poet Robert Burns may have once likened his love to a newly-sprung red, red rose, but for MONSTA X, theirs is a somewhat pricklier affair. “I know you have thorns / But I want you, red rose”, Joohoney asserts. The song’s true essence comes through best in its acoustic version, which the boyband recorded with American singer-songwriter Gallant for their joint 2018 documentary When You Call My Name.
5‘All In (걸어)’ (2016)
With 2016’s ‘All In’, MONSTA X became men on a mission, as brought to life in the title track’s cinematic music video – not to mention all the theories surrounding that. Probably one of the biggest pluses of this song – aside from its addictive dubstep beats – is how easy it is to follow. The stanzas in the verses and chorus each have its own simple, straightforward rhythm that allows for an early sing-along even without knowing the exact words.
This ‘Take.1 Are You There?’ cut comes together like a finely-woven aural tapestry, owing to its melodical ebb and flow, Brother Su’s vivid lyrical imagery (“The reasons I had for living / Overwhelm my every breath / And rise up to my chin”) and the group’s emotive, yet measured delivery. The most satisfying part is the EDM drop that signals the transition to I.M and Joohoney’s raps, which match the emotional frenziness experienced in a break up.
3‘Shoot Out’ (2016)
Though best remembered for its iconic “vibrating” choreography, ‘Shoot Out’ is probably one of the most seminal MONSTA X songs in their overall discography. It is pure intensity through and through, right from its impactful opening notes till the very end.
“The beat is very insane and intense, but the lyrics are beautiful. The song has a painful story,” I.M shared in a 2018 interview with Paper Magazine. This pain is especially evident when the vocalists come together for the bridge, particularly in its English version: “Fire, why you hesitating? Shoot your gun and end it / Kill me like you meant it / Fire, set me free from all this pain / ‘Cause I can’t stand it”.
This EDM number is best known for its iconic rooftop music video, for which an acrophobic Wonho had to calm his nerves with medication prior to filming, he told South Korean magazine The Celebrity back in 2015. But it was all worth it, seeing how it became the first MONSTA X music video to hit 100 million views on YouTube. The song itself is measured, with the right amount of impact – particularly the dubstep breakdown after Joohoney’s zippy superhero-themed rap.
1‘Love Killa’ (2020)
If it’s good enough for MONSTA X, it’s good enough for us. The ‘Fatal Love’ title track made it to the top of the boyband’s list in the Buzzfeed Celeb song ranking video, with Minhyuk commenting, “It’s the first title track that instantly made me think, ‘Wow, it’s really good.’”
Its catchy hooks, suave attitude and a certain je ne sais quoi are all proof that the guys can deliver an impactful performance without needing to over-exert themselves every time. Instead, this relaxed confidence gave them the chance to do what they do best, in the words of Joohoney and I.M: “Imma slay, imma chill, imma kill”. And true enough, they did.