Monsta X is a South Korean boy dance group under Starship Entertainment. They debuted on May 14, 2015 through the reality survival show No Mercy, which aired on Mnet TV. The group is currently composed of seven members – Shownu, Wonho, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Jooheon, and I.M.
2014 to 2015: Formation and official debut
Monsta X was formed as a result No Mercy, a survival program launched by Starship Entertainment and Mnet in December 2014. Participants in the show was seen directly working with artists under Starship Entertainment, including Rhymer, San E, Giriboy, and Genius Nochang. Among the 9 participants who took part in the concluding mission, the final 7 members were selected. Almost all of the members were part of the show from the beginning, except for I.M., who was the only participant added in the middle of the show and ended being selected as part of the final lineup. Prior to their debut, Jooheon, Hyungwon, and I.M released their song “Interstellar” on February 12. The song was produced by Yella Diamond for the final mission.
Their name, “Monsta X”, means “monsters conquering the K-pop scene” and “my star”, with the prefix mon- meaning “my” in French. The X symbolizes an unknown existence.
Monsta X made their official debut with the release of their first extended play (EP), Trespass, on May 14, 2015. The title track of the same name was produced by Rhymer and was described as a “strong and edgy track that reflects Monsta X’s unique character”.
Trespass has a total of 7 tracks with rapper Jooheon taking on a big role in the production of the album. He also composed several songs included in the album such as “One Love”, “Steal Your Heart”, and “Blue Moon”. I.M was also involved in writing the rap parts in some of the songs, while Kihyun and Wonho contributed in writing the lyrics.
On September 1, 2015, Monsta X made a comeback with their second EP, Rush. The lead single of the same name was produced by Giriboy, while Keone Madrid choreographed the dance and Joo Hee Sun directed the music video.
Rush featured 6 songs produced by Mad Clown, Crybaby, and Rhymer. Jooheon once again took part in writing the rap verses for five songs in the album, while I.M was involved in four songs, including the title track “Rush”.
Monsta X performed at the KCON 2015 in Los Angeles, which marked their first U.S. performance. They also won the Next Generation Asian Artist Award at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards and the 1theK Performance Award at the 2015 Melon Music Awards.
2016: The Clan Project, first solo concert
In January 2016, Monsta X participated in a variety show titled “MONSTA X’s Right Now”, which aired on 1theK’s YouTube channel. In April of the same year, the group was part of Chinese survival program “The Remix”, which was broadcasted on Jiangsu Television in June. The program shows a remix competition with each of the participants is partnered with a mentor who gives him lessons and work on remixing a Chinese music which they will then perform onstage. Monsta X also appeared in the Chinese web drama Good Evening, Teacher, earning positive responses from local viewers.
On May 9, the group released the pre-release song “Ex girl” featuring Wheein of Mamamoo. And on May 18. 2016, they released their third mini album, The Clan Pt. 1 Lost, with the title track “All In”. The music video for the song revolves on two males in a same-sex relationship and was directed by award-winning filmmaker Shin Dong Keul. The album debuted at number 5 on Billboard’s World Albums Chart and remained in the same spot for two consecutive weeks. The Clan Pt. 1 Lost is part of a large-scale project called “THE CLAN”, composed of two and a half parts.
On July 16 and 17, Monsta X held their first solo concert titled “MONSTA X The First Live X-Clan Origins”, with tickets to both dates selling out in five minutes.
In August, the group joined their labelmates Cosmic Girls for a project unit group to promote KT’s phone fare service.
On October 4, Monsta X released their fourth mini album, The Clan 2.5 Pt. 2 Guilty, which is the second installment in The Clan series. The extended play contains a total of six tracks including the lead single “Fighter”.
By December 2016, the group won the Best of Next Male Artist Award at the 2016 Mnet Asian Music Awards.
2017 to present: The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter, Japanese debut, first world tour
In January 2017, Monsta X launched their own variety show called “Monsta X-Ray” through the cable channel JTBC2. The show was followed by a season 2 in the same year where the members were seen doing various activities such as participating in the annual Idol Star Athletic Championships and spending a day with kids at a preschool.
In March, the group released the final installment to their The Clan series titled The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter, which is also their first studio album. Led by the title track “Beautiful”, the album debuted at number 1 on Billboard’s World Albums Chart with over 1,000 copies sold. This marks Monsta X’s best sales week in the United States and also earned them a spot in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. The lead single “Beautiful” debuted at number 4 on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart.
In May 2017, Monsta X made their official debut in Japan under Mercury Tokyo, Universal Music Japan’s new label. They released their first Japanese single, “Hero”, which contains the Japanese version of their previously released tracks “Hero” and “Stuck”.
The single reached number 2 on Oricon’s weekly singles chart and Billboard Japan’s weekly charts, while it took the number 1 spot on Tower Records’ chart. “Hero” also earned the distinction of being the only album from a foreign artist who debuted in 2017 to make it to the top 3 of Oricon’s weekly charts.
On June 19, the group released Shine Forever, a repackaged version of The Clan 2.5: The Final Chapter, featuring the original songs from the album plus two new songs “Shine Forever” and “Gravity”. Members Jooheon and I.M. once again took charge of writing the lyrics and rap parts for the title track “Shine Forever”.
Also in June 2017, Monsta X embarked on their first world tour, titled The First World Tour – Monsta X Beautiful. The following month, while in the middle of their tour, the second season of Monsta X-Ray aired on JTBC.
On July 27, the group released the summer song “Newton” with the music video produced by Yoo Sung Gyun of Sunny Visual. They also filmed a music video for the song, which was used as an advertisement for Lipton.
On August 23, the group released their second Japanese single “Beautiful”, which includes the Japanese version of their songs “Beautiful” and “Ready or Not”. The album made it to number on Oricon’s daily chart, proving Monsta X’s popularity in Japan.
On November 7, they released their fifth EP titled The Code with the lead single “Dramarama”. On the day of the EP’s official release, Monsta X held a showcase at Changchun gymnasium, titled “MONSTA X COMEBACK SHOW-CON”. A week later, they won their first ever music broadcast through SBS MTV’s The Show with “Dramarama”.
Monsta X released their special single “Lonely Christmas” on December 18 as a surprise holiday release for their fans. The song was written, produced, and co-composed by main rapper Jooheon.
Come 2018, the group took part in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics torch relay as torchbearers on the first day of the Seoul leg. The members showed their great teamwork, with each of them taking turns carrying the symbolic Olympic flame.
On January 31, Monsta X released their third Japanese single and their first Japanese original song “Spotlight”. The album also features the Japanese version of their song “Shine Forever”, which took the number 1 spot on Oricon’s daily singles chart.
From January 19 to February 18, the group also opened a collaboration café at Shinjuku Box.
On March 26, the group released their sixth mini album The Connect: Dejavu, containing a total of seven tracks, with the lead single “Jealousy” and “If Only” co-written by Wonho, and the song “Special” co-written by Jooheon. “Jealousy”, which was produced by Hayden Bell, Shane Simmons, and Harry Sommerdahland won Monsta X their second music show win through SBS MTV’s The Show.
On April 11, Monsta X were invited as models for Lens Town, a global fashion eyewear and beauty contact lens company. The group closely worked with the brand to release their very own “Monsta X lens” or MnX, with the members personally coordinating their designs and detail points. The lenses were officially release the follow month.
On April 25, they released first Japanese full album Piece with the title track “Puzzle”. The album features ten tracks, including songs from their previous Japanese releases, plus four new songs – “Killin’ Me”, “#GYFL”, “Aura”, and the lead single “Puzzle”. Piece reached the top spot on Tower Records’ all-store chart, and number 3 on Oricon’s weekly album chart and Billboard Japan Weekly Chart.
Between April and May, Monsta X embarked on their first Japan live tour across 4 cities, beginning in Fukuoka, followed by shows in Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo.
On May 2, they took part in the “C-Festival 2018” as the event’s official ambassadors for promotion. The festival was jointly organized by Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Thailand in Korea, which is the largest public-private partnership event in Korea hosted by COEX.
Fun Fact: The Maknae is the youngest member of the band.