MONSTA X: Their 14 Best Songs (So Far)

Fan favourites ahead of their new album...

MONSTA X are key parts of a generation of artists breaking the glass ceiling for Korean artists.

Blending future-facing pop with R&B and elements of hip-hop, their stunning success has been spearheaded by raw natural ability.

Releasing a string of fantastic projects MONSTA X have claimed their place as one of this generation's most scintillating pop icons.

New album 'The Dreaming' is out on December 10th, and it's another incredible chapter for the K-Pop group.

To mark the release, Clash invited fans to pick out their favourite songs from MONSTA X.

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'Who Do You Love?' (As picked by Abbie Aitken)

Opening with a suggestive murmur, ‘Who Do U Love’ detours from Monsta X’s regular intensity. Collaborating with rapper French Montana, ‘Who Do You Love’ is the opening track of the group’s first English album entitled ‘All About Luv’. – Centring around an alternative R&B beat, ‘Who Do You Love’ showcases the combined vocals of the entire group. A repetitive bounce blends with the grainy synths leaving room for the mature lyrics to protrude. French Montana’s verse comes in the form of a bridge. The rasp of his voice contradicts the softer vocals on the track, which only makes the song feel rounded. Joohoney takes a step back from his position as rapper and boasts his forceful delivery blending in with the higher pitched voices of Minhyuk and Kihyun.

Compared to much of Monsta X’s discography, ‘Who Do You Love’ feels more mature, not only in the lyrics but the overall aura. It suggested the group were shifting, evolving in terms of their musicality.

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'GAMBLER' (As picked by Abbie Aitken)

Beginning with what appears to be the sounds of an aircraft taking off followed by a car crash, ‘Gambler’ is the lead single taken from Monsta X’s EP ‘One Of A Kind’ released earlier this year.

Written and produced by Joohoney the track follows the tale of fatal attraction and the potential of losing it all. I.M’s slick “Don’t you really want to feel alive” accompanied by a clean guitar riff exudes a feeling of suggestion and intrigue. The track combines a traditional dance beat with electronic influences broken down through more rock inspired elements.

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'Wanted' (As picked by Abbie Aitken)

With a futuristic theme and shrouded with hues of blue, black and grey, Monsta X’s ninth Japanese single ‘Wanted’ boasts a technological music video brimming with flashy visuals and pristine camera angles. ‘Wanted’ is reminiscent of an early 2000’s pop song. Rhythmic clapping plays throughout creating a nice build up to the energetic chorus. The layered track is advanced by the powerhouse that is the vocal line. Ringing throughout the chorus, the combined voices of Shownu, Minhyuk, Kihyun and Hyungwon creates a sense of drama and urgency, enhancing the already invigorating sound. ‘Wanted’ is nothing short of energetic. Despite being a decent three minutes, the song is ferociously fast paced.

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'BEASTMODE' (As picked by Abbie Aitken)

“It’s time to wake up” mutters Joohoney before an alarming chorus awakens and a heavy bass kicks in. ‘Beastmode’ exemplifies the intensity and compelling performance of Monsta X. Loaded with EDM bass and percussion, ‘Beastmode’ conveys an animalistic portrayal of self-assurance. The brawniness of the song effortlessly demonstrates the strength of the group. I.M and Joohoney provide abrasive verses adding to the already poignant track.

Despite the high intensity, the pre-chorus leaves space for the vocal line to gloat their stability whilst also adding to the aggressive nature of the track. The choreography of ‘Beastmode’ perfectly matches the song’s vigour. Moves that resemble a wild beast enhance the effectiveness of the track’s lyrics. The incorporation of backing dancers creates a perception of wilderness. ‘Beastmode’ represents the modern-day sound of Monsta X. Resonating earlier albums, ‘Beastmode’ demonstrates the progression of the group and creates a benchmark of what’s to come.

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'Beautiful' (As picked by Tassia Assis)

Like a launched roller coaster, 2017’s single ‘Beautiful’ plunges right into Joohoney and I.M’s raps over submarine synths. It’s a breathless, threatening introduction to the sounds Monsta X is most known for. However, the next verses ease the pace for a dramatic chorus that reveals another side of the group — softness.

Dwelling over someone who is “too beautiful to handle”, they are loyal lovers who promise to undergo any suffering to protect their special person. “Like a thorny flower, I know I’ll get pricked, but I want you,” Kihyun sings, per Genius translation. An instrumental break follows every chorus, amplifying the yearning and setting space for one of their best choreographies yet. The duality between hard and soft is intrinsic to Monsta X, whether in their discography or in their personalities, but 'Beautiful' is their best moment blending both without losing the vim.

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'Blind' (As picked by Tassia Assis)

'Blind' is foreplay in song form. A smooth R&B that escalates into a hypnotizing chorus, this 2016 B-side is one of Monsta X’s earliest and most entrancing sultry dives — a style that would become more and more prominent as they matured.

Composed by Korean rapper Giriboy and co-written by him, Joohoney and I.M, the track relies on a double entendre. At the same time that Monsta X want to “rip apart the blinds that cover you,” they know said action will result in “a dazzling light, you make me blind.” It’s all part of the game. As Hyungwon repeats, “She go low, I go up, show me, I’m ready.” Mimicking the dynamics of real life, ‘Blind’ plays with light and dark, revealing and then concealing, only to leave us wanting more.

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'Sorry I’m Not Sorry' (As picked Tassia Assis)

An acoustic, vocal-centeed track is probably the last thing people who only know Monsta X’s title tracks would expect. But for those more acquainted with their skills, it’s not a surprise that they pull this off exceedingly well. ‘Sorry I’m Not Sorry’ is a standout precisely for highlighting all members’ singing prowess in a beautiful production.

However, don’t be fooled by the chill rhythm and nostalgic drive of this track — the lyrics tell the story of a bitter, yet relatable, love affair. “Thank you for tonight, for a lovely night,” they sing, only to finish with “sorry I’m not sorry, I never wanna see you again.”

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‘Jealousy’ (As picked by Taylor Glasby)

‘Jealousy’ (2018) contains both the wall-punching energy and thick blares of EDM of their early singles and the worldly, grandiose ambitions that’d unfurl more clearly in their look and sound in the coming years. Yet, arguably, no other single, before or since, holds up as true a mirror to their on and off stage dynamics as this.  

The green fire in its veins renders it commanding and sexy but ‘Jealousy’ is also playfully self-referential, roasting its owners with a lyrical blowtorch: “Okay, I got it, the last of the seven, Think these guys are better than me?” spits I.M straight-faced, as Wonho, a few lines later, sneers, “Right now, why are you talking about Shownu again?” Nearly four years post-release, there’s an even greater appreciation for the unusual and complicated combination of humour, envy, cockiness, and pop theatrics (bolstered by Kihyun’s spectacular post-bridge ad libs) but, under the band’s laser-eyed focus, it makes for the perfect storm.

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‘Myself’ (As picked by Taylor Glasby)

Translated as “Hope you don’t know me like this, hope you don’t know / It’s okay to be in this way / Please notice me like this, notice me”, Hyungwon and Minhyuk’s pre-chorus is the stepping off point into a slow slide into a helpless place of shame and need. Monsta X’s back catalogue has its fair share of heart-wrenching ballads but none of them resemble, or cut quite so keenly, as ‘Myself’.  

Perhaps that’s because it doesn’t ever sound like the tortured soul portrayed in its lyrics, trapped by a loop of memories of a former lover, each one picking away at his sanity. Instead it adopts an ethereal somnolence, the melody rising and falling like a ribbon fluttering in the breeze. On Joohoney’s rapped bridge, ‘Myself’ directs its anger outward for one rancorous yet hopeless, futile moment – the final chorus echoes and billows in a space empty but for their pain.

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‘Stuck’ (As picked by Taylor Glasby)

Released in 2016, here lay the perfect opportunity to evince this still-rookie group’s physical power and presence. Like 2015’s ‘Hero’, ‘Stuck’ was given a performance video that holds up as a mesmerising capture of one of the most aggressive choreographies of their career.  

Lyrically it's the equivalent of a first year frat boy, naive, brash and desperate for attention, yet ‘Stuck’ is unbothered by subtlety. Opening with a floor-shaking EDM boom, this Godzilla of an instrumental clatters and stomps across the landscape with brute force. The members rodeo-ride it with brio, from rappers I.M and Joohoney nimbly twisting and turning through frantic back-to-back verses to a strikingly melodic chorus that Kihyun and Wonho embellish over a seething vortex of electronica. Many of Monsta X’s early tracks brandish this rowdy, end of days atmosphere but ‘Stuck’, as one of the most potent earworms among them, earns its crown.

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‘U R’ (As picked by Taylor Glasby)

Visually sexy concepts have become synonymous with Monsta X, but ‘U R’ – a B-side from 2019’s ‘Follow’ – transposes that magnetism into a simmering, old-school R&B record best listened to with the lights way down low.

The central rap verses, particularly with I.M’s languorous hoarseness, add a teasing element but, really, this track lives for the vocalists, who infuse the lyrics (more suggestive than explicit) with the ache of unrestrained desire from every angle. “Is it too early to want you?” Hyungwon sings early on, his voice gently echoing, but a powerful chorus, in the hands of Shownu, Wonho and Kihyun, is urgent and demanding. It’s a duel of sorts – for every thrust, there is a parry (namely Minhyuk’s breathy refrain) – and this tension keeps the sultry passion of ‘U R’ hot until the end.

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'LOVE KILLA' (As picked by Lucy Ford)

Just when last year was coming to an end and our fave songs were settling into their Spotify Wrapped rankings, Monsta X burst in and teasingly asked ‘Got room for one more?’ The lead single for their 2020 album Fatal Love, Love Killa is the group at their most feral. In the 6 years since their debut, Monsta X has never shied away from booming and bombastic melodies, but Love Killa takes that expected noise, distills it down to something much restrained and simmering, always on the edge of exploding but never quite doing it.

Each verse is a sparring match between the biting ferocity of rapline (I.M. and Joohoney) and the sweeping harmonies of vocal line (Shownu, Minhyuk, Kihyun and Hyungwon), before building to a chorus that you expect to blow the roof off but instead subverts into something far more intimate and menacing. It also gives us the iconic line from I.M. ‘Look in my eyes, straight into my eyes and just say “I want you to eat me like a main dish”’, which provided more thrills than we could have ever anticipated in peak 2020 lockdown times.

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'MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT' (As picked by Lucy Ford)

Monsta X’s first full English-language album ‘All About Luv’ in 2020 was a turning point for the group who, up until that point, had been known to many for their thundering title tracks. The album is peak ‘riding in the car with the top down’ music, exemplified perfectly by single 'Middle of the Night'. Relaxed synths and electronic beats paired with semi-distorted vocals from the members create one of their most atmospheric songs to date, softening the hard edge the group had previously meticulously crafted. 

Normally sweeping vocals and stinging raps are both compressed down to something far more chilled and languid, and where former singles hurried to get listeners to the point, 'Middle of the Night' takes its time. It creates a euphoric slow burn as it builds to one of the vibiest choruses that makes you feel like your life exists in a sparkly aspirational aesthetic tumblr post.

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'LAST CARNIVAL' (As picked by Lucy Ford)

This B-side is one of the most intimate from the group’s 2020 album ‘Fatal Love’. Opening with echoing choral chanting, the stripped-back instrumentals paired with vocals that barely reach above a whisper the whole time give a track that, even on full volume, you feel like you have to lean in that little bit closer to hear properly.

The song has a slow pace that never rushes to reach a crescendo, and in doing so offers space for the members to each flex the skills they’ve honed and become known for since their debut: purring but strong vocals provided by the vocal line and intimate and whispering inserts from the rappers. Strings and choral flourishes weave throughout the track, while a muted rhythmic beat makes it impossible to listen to this song and not find yourself bobbing your head.

You’ll find yourself accidentally playing this song eight times on repeat before even realising it’s over because of how satisfyingly it plateaus right in that sweet spot in your brain.

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