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K-pop boy band Monsta X looks to conquer the US on a tour that wraps up in Los Angeles on Friday, Aug. 3

K-pop boy band Monsta X looks to conquer the US on a tour that wraps up in Los Angeles on Friday, Aug. 3

  • Monsta X is a rising K-pop boy band that will play its final date on a summer U.S. tour at Microsoft Theater on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Starship Entertainment)

  • I.M. is one of seven members of the K-pop boy band Monsta X, which will wrap up its United States tour with a show at Microsoft Theater on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Starship Entertainment)

  • SoundThe gallery will resume inseconds
  • Jooheon is one of seven members of the K-pop boy band Monsta X, which will wrap up its United States tour with a show at Microsoft Theater on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Starship Entertainment)

  • Kihyun is one of seven members of the K-pop boy band Monsta X, which will wrap up its United States tour with a show at Microsoft Theater on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Starship Entertainment)

  • Shownu is one of seven members of the K-pop boy band Monsta X, which will wrap up its United States tour with a show at Microsoft Theater on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Starship Entertainment)

  • Monsta X is a rising K-pop boy band that will play its final date on a summer U.S. tour at Microsoft Theater on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Starship Entertainment)

  • Minhyuk is one of seven members of the K-pop boy band Monsta X, which will wrap up its United States tour with a show at Microsoft Theater on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Starship Entertainment)

  • Hyungwon is one of seven members of the K-pop boy band Monsta X, which will wrap up its United States tour with a show at Microsoft Theater on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Starship Entertainment)

  • Wonho is one of seven members of the K-pop boy band Mo nsta X, which will wrap up its United States tour with a show at Microsoft Theater on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Starship Entertainment)

  • Monsta X is a rising K-pop boy band that will play its final date on a summer U.S. tour at Microsoft Theater on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Starship Entertainment)

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The Korean boy band Monsta X is still in Seoul when rapper I.M. calls at dawn on the West Coast to talk about the group’s emergence from a reality TV show, the months and months of training that its seven members underwent before their debut, and Monsta X’s first U.S. tour, which wraps up Friday, Aug. 3, in Los Angeles.

“It’s just an honor that we get the focus and get lots of fans and they love K-pop,” says I.M., calling at the end of a long day for him, the duty of English-language interviews typically falling to him thanks to a boyhood spent in Boston. “We didn’t really expect this reaction, but we really appreciate it.”

The success of Monsta X on the world stage fits neatly into the narrative of K-pop in recent years, a genre that’s always had a fan base outside of Korea but is rapidly expanding that into countries including the United States where the Korean language is not spoken.

Exhibit A, of course, is BTS, the hugely successful K-pop boy band that has sold out four nights at Staples Center in Los Angeles in September, has 27 million followers across its two main Twitter accounts, and has been No. 1 on the Billboard Social 50 chart, a measure of an musical act’s popularity across various social media platforms, for 54 weeks and counting.

Exhibit B, is the dominance of K-pop boy bands across the Billboard Social 50, with five in the Top 10 interspersed among artists such as Ariana Grande, Harry Styles and Cardi B, and just recently dropping outside the Top 10, now at No. 12, Monsta X, whose most recent release, “The Connect: D ejavu,” debuted at No. 2 on the World Albums and No. 8 on the Heatseekers charts after its release in March.

In many ways, Monsta X is similar in some ways to the American boy bands of the past, acts such as New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync. Members are brought together by producers, or in the case of Monsta X, a reality TV singing competition, then put through training to form them into a well-polished unit.

But the way I.M. and other K-pop performers describe the process the Korean training sounds almost like entering the military for its rigor and demands, with months of hard work required before the system and those who run it approve promotions from trainee to a idol, as the K-pop jargon describes it.

“The Korean training system is very intense and it’s very hard to survive, says I.M., who at 22 is the youngest of the seven Monsta X members, all of whom still live in a dormitory together.

But its goal is to provide the best quality of performer for the fan, he adds.

“Through that training system I think he or she gets lots of what is expected from an idol,” I.M. says.

When I.M. joined the TV series “No Mercy” in 2015 he only hoped he’d last long enough in the competition to make an impression on fans, he says.

“I just want to show my thing on stage,” he says. “Of course rap and of course dance. But I don’t really care about that I’m an idol or something. I just dream about getting on the stage and communicating with fans all around the world, and show my message through my music.”

He was the last one added to the group, and had to overcome his standing as an outsider over the course of the show and the education that followed.

“At first everything was awkward for me,” I.M. says. “I just need some time to get close to them, so everything was difficult. I think everyone in that situation could feel like me.”

Later that first year, 2015, Monsta X made its U.S. debut, performing on a multi-group lineup at Staples Center in Los Angeles as part of KCON, the annual celebration of Korean pop culture.

“It was so unbelievable that we were on that stage,” I.M. says. “Everything was very special to us. It’s a dream place. We didn’t expect it (to be) such a very huge place.”

This time, Monsta X is headlining its own tour and will play the Microsoft Theater across the street from Staples Center, a smaller but still significant venue.

“Our music has lots of power and lots of energy so that can make people move and make people jump and have a good time,” I.M. says. “I think that’s why people really like us. I really like my team. I think my team is really dope.”

And while boy bands traditionally drift apart after a few years together, a handful of members finding success as solo artists, the rest fading away a bit until the inevitable reunion tours of the future, I.M. says he hopes Monsta X sticks together for the long haul.

“I love my team and never think about breaking up and getting separated,” he says. “I think even if we separate we will get back as a team, Monsta X, even when we get old, 40 or 50. Because we are very close to each other and like each other.

“Our synergy gets bigger if we are a team.”

Monsta X

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3

Where: Microsoft Theater, 777 Chick Hearn Court, Los Angeles

Tickets: $55-$195

Information: monstax-e.com

Source: Google News K-Pop

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