I’m probably the only K-pop site that does an end-of-year list for producers, but it’s one of my favorite features to create. They’re such a vital component to the K-pop industry, responsible for the sounds and trends that power each year.
As usual, my list has plenty of familiar faces, along with some new entries that really impressed me in 2019. For the first time ever, my favorite production team (and last year’s number one) didn’t even make it on the list. I’m talking about Sweetune, folks.
Justice for Sweetune in 2020!
10. YOO YOUNG-JIN
Producing legend Yoo Young-Jin makes his way on this list not for the songs that he composed, but for his arrangement skills that have added undeniable polish to dozens of SM tracks this year. In so many ways, he is the SM sound.
The Full8loom team has powered much of Cosmic Girls’ material, but their overall sound has proven to be pretty diverse. The one constant is their knack for a great pop melody.
The Bias List Producer Spotlight (Glory Face)
8. LUDWIG LINDELL & DANIEL CAESAR
This duo has been around for awhile, hitting a high mark in 2017 with mega-hit Red Flavor. Since then, their work has remained remarkably consistent. In 2019, they delivered some of my favorite girl group fare, as well as one of TXT’s best b-sides.
7. SEAN ALEXANDER (WITH DREW RYAN SCOTT & GABE LEWIS)
These three were the architects behind VERIVERY’s new jack swing singles run, but I want to highlight Sean Alexander in particular. He’s been quite prolific this year, bringing an upbeat pop energy to a variety of different groups.
VERIVERY – Ring Ring Ring, From Now, Tag Tag Tag
DreamNote – Hakuna Matata
Oh My Girl – Crime Scene
Red Velvet – Swimming Pool
Teen Top – Your Man
Produce X 101 – You Got It, To My World
GFriend – L.U.V.
E.one are often on my list. They have a signature, synth-driven style that hasn’t changed all that much over the years. And while they didn’t get to produce nearly enough title tracks in 2019, they crafted some of the year’s strongest b-sides.
I don’t often feature idol producers on this list, but it would be hard to ignore Stray Kids’ 3Racha. Though they’ve yet to produce for anyone outside their own group, this trio created or co-created almost all of their own material this year. Any team that can give us Miroh and Side Effects in one year deserves respect.
Monotree bumps up one spot from last year thanks to a very consistent run of songs. As usual, this large team was prolific in 2019. Together, they crafted some of the year’s most exciting, innovative material. Special mention has to go to member Hwang Hyun, who has the golden K-pop touch as far as I’m concerned.
A.C.E – Under Cover
Golden Child – She’s My Girl
ONF – We Must Love, Why, All Day, Asteroid, Ice & Fire
ONEUS – Valkyrie, Twilight, Bing Bing, Lit
X1 – Flash
Seventeen – Lucky
Kim Jaehwan – Designer, Melodrama (LaLa)
Newkidd – Tu Eres
LOONA – Butterfly
Astro – Treasure
3. 1TAKE & TAK
Taking their glitchy EDM sound to new levels, 1Take & TAK offered their most diverse palette of styles yet this year. I was surprised by how melodic they went, which worked wonders in contrast to their more aggressive instrumentals. This duo is quickly becoming one of Korea’s most promising behind-the-scenes talents.
2. MELANIE FONTANA & MICHEL ‘LINDGREN’ SCHULZ
Though Melanie Fontana has been creating idol music for a few years now, 2019 was a major breakthrough. Paired with Michel ‘Lindgren’ Schulz and Big Hit’s in-house production team, her work powered TXT’s incredible debut year and brought BTS’s sound to a poppier, more anthemic level. I hope this partnership continues to bear fruit in the new year.
TXT – Crown, Run Away, Angel Or Devil, Can’t We Just Leave The Monster Alive?
BTS – Boy With Luv, Mikrokosmos
Everglow – Bon Bon Chocolat
Twice – Trick It
Ailee – Ain’t That Pretty, Fire
1. LEEZ, EDEN, BUDDY & OLLOUNDER
I’m not sure if this quartet has an official team name, but it’s hard not to lump them together given how often they collaborate. Their work with ATEEZ would be enough to put them on the top of this list, but the fact that they’re also responsible for Dreamcatcher’s output, plus a handful of underrated tracks from other artists, only cements their status as 2019’s most exciting production team. No one else feels quite as fresh and innovative. They’re the kind of creators that could (and should!) be producing for every K-pop act.
ATEEZ – Wave, Wonderland, Say My Name, Utopia, Hala Hala, Dancing Like Butterfly Wings, WIN, etc…
Dreamcatcher – Over The Sky, Piri, Deja Vu, Silent Night
Jeong Sewoon – Love In Fall
Lovelyz – Love Game
Favorite – Loca