Melanie Fontana on writing K-pop songs

American songwriter Melanie Joy Fontana has written many songs including those for well-known K-pop artists.
Melanie Fontana (Instagram) / Melanie Fontana (Instagram)

She wrote BTS’ “Euphoria,” Girls’ Generation’s “Stay Girls,” Tiffany Young’s “Yellow Light,” (x)’s “Boom Bang Boom,” I.O.I’s “Crush,” former 2NE1 member Minzy’s “Ni Na No” and “Superwoman,” and AOA’s “Parfait.”

Fontana reveals the intricate process in making K-pop music.

“I like to playfully call writing a Kpop song ’workin’ the K-pop bop machine!’ There’s a few components to it. When composing for these incredible pop icons, I’m normally the person who writes the melodies for the vocals and partial lyrics,” she said.

She added, “A producer or instrumentalist will work with me to formulate the beat that goes under the song. K-pop songs tend to be about 99 percent in Korean with an English word tossed in here and there, so after my first bit gets wrapped up, a talented Korean lyricist will then take the song and re-interpret it to fit the mood they feel the song needs to convey in Korean. It’s quite the machine.”

Fontana said her career in K-pop songwriting started when she was “introduced to a songwriting legend by the name of Andreas Carlsson.”

She went with him to Stockholm, Sweden “where I met and went into the studio with some skilled producers who had been writing for the Asian market. That was in 2012 and it’s been snowballing ever since.”

According to her, it’s rare for her to work directly with K-pop artists in any part of the songwriting process.

“Artists have very particular ways of recording and frankly, as a songwriter, it’s sometimes more fun to just hear the song once it’s finalized, rather than to be there in the room nitpicking away at a recording engineer,” she explained.

One exception was Hyorin, former member of K-pop girl group Sistar, saying, “We wrote together while she was in LA this past April and had such a great time together. We bonded over our shared love of cats. I appreciate that she and her team really know exactly what they want.”

While she doesn’t have any favorite among the K-pop songs she has written, she said her favorite music videos are Minzy’s “Ni Na No” and BTS’ “Euphoria.”

Among K-pop artists, she loves Girls’ Generation; adores CL, Tiffany, Taeyeon, Hyorin; and loves the rap vocals of Flowsik and Jay Park.

Besides being a songwriter, Fontana is also a singer and has been featured in several songs and became part of the backing vocals in Rod Stewart’s “Merry Christmas, Baby.”

“I am always tickled to be a featured vocalist on an EDM song or otherwise. I actually have a few features coming out soon with the EDM duo Vindata as well as pop/EDM artist DJ Topic. There’s also another super cool masked DJ duo called Zafari Music that has a single in the chamber on which my vocals and pen will be featured,” she said.

On releasing her own album, she said, “You know, singing my own material is truly where all my life’s seeds were planted and without those original songs, I wouldn’t have been able to grow to where I am today in pop music or K-pop music! When the right opportunity crops up for me, you bet your ears I’ll be out there on stage shakin’ it with the best of ‘em.”