You all know how much I love a good producer! Honestly, I almost get more excited by the presence of certain producers’ names on title tracks than the artists themselves. Like last year, my countdown includes ten of 2018’s best composers. You’ll notice a lot of repeats from 2017, shuffled into different places. But, 2018 also sees a few promising new entries and the return of a couple of industry legends.
Rather than make any immense leap forward in 2018, e.one continued to develop and deepen their signature sound. Though they rarely get to work on title tracks with major artists, their name is an instant seal of approval for me.
9. SHINSADONG TIGER
Veteran producer Shinsadong Tiger’s work was limited to title tracks this year, but he produced some of 2018’s biggest hits. Without resorting to the same trends as so many other producers, his unique, timeless touch still packed a wallop.
Continuing to work exclusively with Pledis Entertainment artists, Bumzu helped steer the music of Seventeen and Nu’est W this year. And as expected, it was another strong round of releases for one of the industry’s most prolific composers.
Seventeen – Thanks, Oh My!, Thinkin’ About You, Run To You, Falling For U, Holiday, Come To Me, What’s Good, Moonwalker, Our Dawn Is Hotter Than Day, A-Team
Nu’est W – Dejavu, Help Me, I Don’t Care, Signal, Polaris, ylenol, Gravity & Moon, Shadow, I Hate You
7. RYAN S JHUN
Last year’s number one tumbled a few spots this year. He may not have had a hit as big as Pick Me, but his work on standouts like Baby Don’t Stop and Black Heart easily earn him a spot on the list.
NCT U – Baby Don’t Stop
VAV – Spotlight, Gorgeous, Give It To Me
Cross Gene – Dystopia, Fly
Taeyeon – Something New
UNB – Black Heart
AOA – Parfait
Key – Good Good
EXO – Trauma
Under Nineteen – Go Tomorrow
Yuri – Chapter 2
NEX7 – Dream World Tour
6. CODE 9
Surely the most unknown production team on my list, Code 9 were one of two breakouts for me this year. At this point, they’re really only working with mid-to-low tier acts, but they’ve already begun to craft a synth-heavy style that has me begging for more.
Monotree moves up a couple notches this year thanks to a truly prolific slate of releases. With so many different composers as part of the team, their output varied in sound and style. I didn’t love everything they produced in 2018, but they were responsible for some of the year’s biggest highlights.
ONF – Complete, Fly Me To The Moon, Good Morning, Fifty Fifty, Incomplete, 86400, What Is A Love
LOONA – Hi High, Perfect Love, Frozen, Rendezvous 18.6y
Twice – Say Yes
Apink – I Like That Kiss
Red Velvet – Blue Lemonade
Oh My Girl – Twilight
Nature – Girls & Flowers
Elris – Will Be Mine
AlphaBat – Blockbuster
Spectrum – Mr. Who, Tonight
Gugudan – Be Myself
GOT7 – Take Me To You
Onew – Sign
B1A4, Oh My Gitl & ONF – Timing
4. LDN NOISE
Compared to their commercial peak in 2015, this year’s line-up of LDN Noise tracks might seem a bit underwhelming. But a closer look reveals instant classics like Gravity and Black Heart, as well as a pair of solid tracks by NCT and a polished debut for SHINee’s Key. That’s enough to kick them up a couple places on this year’s list. Honestly, Gravity alone pretty much secured their spot.
3. YOO YOUNG-JIN
Yoo Young-Jin was SM Entertainment’s secret weapon in 2018, playing a part in almost every one of the agency’s major title tracks. The only reason he’s not higher on the countdown is because he’s not listed as the primary songwriter on any of these releases. It’s unclear just how much input he had in their composition, though his signature touches can be felt through most them. I hope SM lets him create some music on his own next year.
NCT U – Boss, Baby Don’t Stop
NCT 127 – Regular, Simon Says
NCT Dream – Go
SHINee – Good Evening, I Want You, Our Page
Red Velvet – Bad Boy, Butterflies
BoA – Nega Dola, Everybody Knows
TVXQ – The Chance Of Love, Bounce
EXO-CBX – Blooming Day, Playdate
TraxX – Escape
LEEZ was my breakout producer of the year, crafting a super-solid collection of tracks. He’s most widely known for his rock-influenced material, but his work with ATEEZ and ACE showed that he’s equally at home with hip-hop and EDM. I’m extremely excited to see what’s up his sleeve for next year.
ATEEZ – Treasure, Pirate King, Twilight, Stay, My Way
Dreamcatcher – You And I, Mayday, Which A Star, Wonderland, July 7th, Full Moon
Infinite – I Hate
Golden Child – YTMOB (You Turn Me On Baby)
ACE – Dessert
N.Flying – Anyway
Sweetune has been lodged in my runner-up spot for the past two years, but 2018 sees them finally rise to the top. It’s not that they released a title track as good as The Star Of Stars of Back:Hug (they didn’t), or that they had a ultra-prolific year (they didn’t). But, with four songs in my top 50 (and three in my top 10), they were a consistently high-quality supplier of classic pop music in a K-pop climate where these kind of sounds were increasingly rare. Their renewed partnership with Woollim Entertainment was especially welcome this year.