Producers and composers are the fuel that keeps k-pop going, and they’re the very first album credit that I check when a new project is being teased. Last year, I counted down the top five producers, but I’m doubling that in 2017 to shine focus on some of the incredible talents that crafted this year in k-pop.
10. GLORY FACE
Glory Face is one of those reliable album track producers. Working within the poppier side of k-pop, they crafted some of my favorite b-sides of the year.
Astro – You Smile, Because of You, With You, Run
Laboum – Only U
DIA – Can’t Stop
Lovelyz – A Secret Garden
Pristin – Running
Cosmic Girls – I Wish, B.B.B.Boo
Romeo – Blue
Gugudan – Street
Turbo – Hot Sugar, Manly
Weki Meki – Neverland, My World
Momoland – Freeze, Music Box
Elris – Midnight, Moonlight
9. LDN NOISE
Though not quite as active this year as they have been in the past, LDN Noise remain one of SM Entertainment’s most reliable production teams. This year they also branched out to work with other agencies, leading to Astro’s mature reinvention.
E.One have refined their synthy space-age sound to tremendous effect. They still don’t get to work on nearly enough title tracks, but they were prolific on 2017 girl group albums.
April – April Story, Take My Hand, Ding, Lovesick
Sonamoo – I (Knew It)
GFriend – Crush
Cosmic Girls – Miracle
Nine Muses – Hate Me
Apink – Like It
DIA – LO OK
Twice – You In My Heart, Turtle
Astro – Butterfly
Wanna One – Wanna
Monotree were everywhere in 2017, producing more songs than anyone else on this list. They composed ONF’s incredible debut mini album, helped steer the LOONA project, and dipped their feet into the work of SM Entertainment’s a-list artists.
ONF – On/Off, Difficult, If I Dream, Original, Cat’s Waltz
AOA – Lily
GOT7 – Q
LOONA – Love and Live, Valentine Girl, Love Cherry Motion
Elris – We, First, Pow Pow, You and Me, Roopretelcham
Cosmic Girls – Sugar
CLC – Call My Name
Girls’ Generation – Love Is Bitter
Pristin – We Are Pristin, Aloha, Tina
JJ Project – The Day
Super Junior – Runaway
Red Velvet – Moonlight Melody
Taemin – Day and Night
As its artists have risen to k-pop-conquering fame, Bumzu has been Pledis Entertainment’s most valuable asset. He’s driven the work of all three of the agency’s heavy hitters, crafting a trademark sound that embraces trends without feeling beholden to them.
Seventeen – Don’t Wanna Cry, Clap, Without You, Lilili Yabbay, Trauma, Flower, Rocket, Hello, Campfire, If I, Swimming Fool, My I, Crazy In Love
Nu’est W – Where You At, Just One Day, Paradise, Good Love, With
Pristin – We Are Pristin, We Like
5. 1TAKE & TAK
One of k-pop’s most promising new production duos, 1Take and TAK’s glitchy electronic style breathed new life into 2017’s trendy output. Their burgeoning discography may be small now, but I’m excited to see where they go from here.
Golden Child – What Happened
Wanna One – Wanna Be (My Baby)
Lovelyz – Twinkle
Good Day – Beyond This Moment, Fly Away
4. LUDWIG LINDELL & DANIEL CAESAR
In addition to being the composers of the gargantuan summer hit Red Flavor, Lindell and Caesar brought their punchy pop style to some of Korea’s biggest acts. They’ve proven themselves to be masters of the Big Pop Chorus, expertly melding European influences to k-pop’s idiosyncratic sound.
Red Velvet – Red Flavor
Girls’ Generation – All Night
Pentagon – Pretty Pretty
Twice – 24/7
LOONA – Singing In The Rain, New
EXO-CBX – Girl Problems, Diamond Crystal
Shinhwa – Super Power
3. FLOWBLOW & HUI
The only debut on this countdown, Flow Blow and Pentagon’s Hui burst onto the scene with the mega-hit Never, and didn’t look back from that point on. They’re responsible for Wanna One’s trademark song and Pentagon’s re-emergence as a creative force.
Good old reliable Sweetune were in this same position last year. Thanks to their work with Snuper, I’d argue that they had an even better year in 2017. I’d still like to see them work with some of k-pop’s a-list acts again, because right now they’re consistently churning out some of the industry’s most under-appreciated gems.
Snuper – Back:Hug, Star of Stars, Dear, Hide and Seek, My Girl’s Fox
100% – Sketch U, One Day, Interpretation, Gorgeous, Meet Me Yesterday
Lovelyz – Emotion, The
Top Secret – She, Mind Control, Something Special, It’s Good, Up and Down
Weki Meki – iTeen Girls Special
1. RYAN S. JHUN
Ryan S. Jhun has been composing fantastic material for years now, but his star power really blew up in 2017. He started strong with the incredible My First and Last, and was responsible for 2017’s biggest viral hit Pick Me. In between, his 80’s-tinged pop was always a treat, offering shots of pure pop melody during a year more focused on trendy instrumentals.
NCT Dream – My First and Last
Melody Day – Kiss on the Lips
VAV – Venus (Dance With Me), ABC (Middle of the Night), She’s Mine
Produce 101 – Pick Me, Super Hot
Girl’s Day – I’ll Be Yours, Thirsty, Kumbaya, Truth
EXO – Touch It
Shannon – Hello
Rainz – Juliette, All Night Kinda Night