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Dream Collaborations: Six International Producers Who Need to Move into K-Pop

K-pop is no stranger to international producers. The industry has a long history of buying songs from foreigners, then sprinkling that uniquely K-pop magic over the top. And while I’m not a huge fan of heavy foreign influence, many of K-pop’s most iconic songs have been conceived outside of Korea.

As my Producer Spotlight feature highlights, I’m very interested in the industry’s behind-the-scenes creators. I get just as excited over cobbling together the collected work of a producer as I do listening to an artists’ complete discography. Because of this, I wanted to share a list of some of my favorite international producers and why I think they would be a good fit for K-pop.

Straight from the Bias List to the K-pop industry, let’s make these collaborations happen!


Xenomania

Associated Artists: Girls Aloud, Mini Viva, Pet Shop Boys, Amelia Lily

Before K-pop settled into its genre-mashing, structurally complex style, UK production team Xenomania were doing the same thing with acts like Girls Aloud. While their commercial heyday in Britain seems to have passed, Xenomania feel uniquely suited to K-pop’s more experimental preferences. Their retro, synth-propelled sound is definitely to my taste, and I’d love to hear them tackle Korea’s girl group material. I think they could craft one hell of a Twice or Red Velvet single if given the chance.

The Template to Follow:


Daisuke Asakura

Associated Artists: T.M.Revolution, Access, Iceman, Pool Bit Boys, Kotani Kinya

Daisuke Asakura’s blend of high-BPM techno, 80’s arena rock and unparalleled synthesizer work is exactly to my taste. In fact, I’d probably go so far to say that he’s my Sweetune of Japan. He doesn’t produce as often these days, but during his late 90’s prime he crafted an incredibly huge catalog of songs. I adore pretty much all of them, and I’d love for K-pop to take a cue from his style. High-octane songs like The Chaser and Navillera aren’t all that far removed from his 90’s work, and I think he could weave magic with any K-pop group who’d be lucky enough to have him as a collaborator.

The Template to Follow:


Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis

Associated Artists: Janet Jackson, New Edition, Boyz II Men, S.O.S. Band, The Human League, Usher

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again: my favorite recording artist of all time is Janet Jackson. Part of that is due to producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who have imbued her music with supple funk, lushly layered harmonies and a sense of genre-blending freedom all tied together with indelible groove. They have an iconic sound that much of K-pop still seeks to emulate, so why not bring in the masters themselves? They’re not completely removed from K-pop, having produced one of IU’s Japanese singles, but I’d love to hear what they could do with someone like Sunmi — or even a boy group like SHINee or EXO.

The Template to Follow:


Tony Nilsson

Associated Artists: Ola Svensson, Darin, Agnes, David Lindgren, Elin Lanto

If K-pop has been lacking anything over the past couple years, it’s big, bombastic pop choruses. Tony Nilsson excels at them, crafting all-killer, no-filler anthems for a host of Scandinavian artists. When it comes to composers, K-pop already borrows heavily from this region. I’m kind of shocked that we haven’t seen Tony’s name floating around song credits before. Attach him to a group with a bright, 80’s concept and you’ve got an instant classic.

The Template to Follow:


Tommy Clint

Associated Artists: Hey! Say! JUMP, Kis-My-Ft2, Kat-Tun, A.B.C-Z

Japan’s Johnny’s Entertainment is home to many fantastic foreign composers, but none is quite as exciting as Tommy Clint. His sound is huge — like, rock-opera-as-funneled-through-dance-pop huge. I complain a lot about many current K-pop songs lacking impact. I’d love for Clint to come in and craft the kind of showstopper I’m missing. Huge synths, aggressive guitar, string section upon string section. The works.

The Template to Follow:


Jim Steinman

Associated Artists: Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion

Ok, so this isn’t going to happen. Jim Steinman’s compositions aren’t really what you’d expect from K-pop, adhering much more strongly to rock than dance-pop. Honestly, I’m not even sure if he’s still making music. But, his theatrical style has always been a favorite of mine, and something that seems well-suited to K-pop’s love of concepts. If nothing else, I’d kill to hear an idol group cover a Meat Loaf song. I wonder if Meat Loaf was even a thing in Korea?

The Template to Follow:


What about you? Leave your behind-the-scenes dream collaborations in the comments!

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8 thoughts on “Dream Collaborations: Six International Producers Who Need to Move into K-Pop

  1. Hm, what group would benefit from a Jim Steinman production? As much as I love Dreamcatcher and know they’re THE rock group, his stuff is a bit too slow for them, but Siyeon/SuA/Yoohyeon could sell one of his big, bombastic choruses. Maybe Mamamoo? Hell, maybe give Taeyeon one of his songs. *shrug*

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    • You hit the nail on the head! I would KILL for a Dreamcatcher/Jim Steinman collaboration. Unfortunately, it’s never going to happen. Like you said, his work doesn’t really match with K-pop… but that’s why it would be so cool!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, seeing as Dreamcatcher are my favorite group and Jim Steinman is one of my favorite songwriters ever (anyone who’s gone to a karaoke bar with me can attest to this), a collab between them would end me. We can only dream. 😛

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  2. Hell yes to Xenomania, something like Biology would fit into K-Pop really well.

    I would love to see SM scoop up any producers from the PC Music camp like SOPHIE or a.g cook. They deserve much more of a spotlight and I think SM’s knack for weird experimental pop music could pave a way for them besides Charli XCX.

    Another producer would be Kissa Sasaki who mainly produces for KOTO, a underground jpop idol. His brand of high energy wall of sound bitpop would be a fresh in the current landscape of K-Pop. Example would be platonic planet by KOTO.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The more I consider it, the more perfect Xenomania seem for K-pop. In many ways, Girls Aloud feels like a prototype for so many of today’s Korean girl groups.

      Never heard of Kissa Sasaki, but that KOTO song is a trip. Not my kind of vocals, but I love the instrumental. I wish K-pop would borrow a bit from the weirder sides of Japan’s music scene.

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  3. I am deeply obsessed with the idea of Luna doing Janet Jackson-style songs. Something like What Have You Done For Me Lately would suit her so well, and I wish so badly she would do a song like that. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis would be great in K-Pop, and I think could bring a voice/point of view that K-Pop could benefit from.

    Like

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