K-pop sensations Monsta X set their sights on the West | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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K-pop sensations Monsta X set their sights on the West

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In March 2015, South Korean clothing company Litmus announced an endorsement deal with Monsta X, a K-pop group that had been a unit for a handful of months and had only a couple singles to their name. Such is the way of K-pop’s assembly-line system, an art in its own right, and Monsta X are among the latest by-products on the rise, a seven-piece boy band with a hip-hop twist that came together on a reality program called No Mercy. It takes an insane amount of willpower, dedication, and finesse to succeed in this racket—according to a 2012 New Yorker feature on K-pop, only about a tenth of all stars in the making manage to actually release a debut—but Monsta X have proven themselves capable of domination in just a couple years’ time. Their first world tour, which consists of just seven U.S. dates, kicks off tonight in Chicago, and follows last month’s Shine Forever (Starship Entertainment), a repackaged version of their debut album, The Clan Pt. 2.5. That record peaked at the top of Billboard’s World Music chart after it came out in March. Balancing EDM bombast with neofunk minimalism and lean hip-hop, Monsta X hit the same buttons as Bruno Mars with his blend of pop’s wide history. Sure, they largely sing and rap in Korean, but you don’t have to take any language courses to figure out what drives the sprightly “All I Do” (though it doesn’t hurt that the opening words are in English: “I think about you”).   v

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