For all SM Entertainment artists, the agency’s CEO Lee Soo Man is more their producer than their boss — so to speak. As one of the pioneers to have “founded” the K-Pop genre, starting with the discovery of legendary first generation idols like H.O.T and BoA, Lee Soo Man knows inside out what K-Pop fans like and need. So when he takes charge of producing for his artists, it’s a guarantee for a mega hit. While Lee Soo Man doesn’t always get involved in all of the artists’ works, he was definitely more hands-on for these 4 songs. And as genius as he is, these songs turned out to be the hottest bops of their eras.
1. f(x)’s “Danger”
When it dropped in 2011, f(x)’s “Danger” shook the nation with its sensational electronic pop beats. Originally, titled “Laser”, the song had been completely produced and recorded even. When Lee Soo Man heard it, he commented that it “needs to be more special” to befit f(x)’s style. During the re-production of the song, Lee Soo Man changed the title, the lyrics, the tone, and the choreography — which resulted in the funky-fresh “Danger” as we know it now.
2. SHINee’s “Sherlock”
When SM Entertainment began putting SHINee’s Sherlock album together, the composers had at least a hundred songs with the potential to become the main track. Lee Soo Man stepped in though — and suggested combining two of the tracks already listed on the album, “Clue” and “Note”. No need to say, when this “hybrid remix” dropped — SHINee’s upgraded vocals, along with the unique choreography, changed the paradigm for K-Pop.
3. EXO’s “Call Me Baby”
EXO’s main track for the second EXODUS album would have been the track of the same title. In fact, the track “EXODUS” came pretty close to being selected — as EXO even completed shooting an expensive music video for it located entirely outside Korea. Lee Soo Man got involved last minute, however, and decided that “Call Me Baby” would have a better shot at serving as the main track. Once released, “Call Me Baby” swept the music charts. It remains SM Entertainment’s 5th song ever to reach 200 million views on YouTube.
4. Red Velvet’s “Red Flavor”
Red Velvet’s Joy once revealed in an interview that “Red Flavor” is indeed one of Lee Soo Man’s most prized pieces to have produced. She shared, “[Red Velvet] ran into Lee Soo Man at a SM Town company dinner” and he insisted that he “worked really hard on the track.” Joy added, “The manager later explained that Lee Soo Man tweaked the lyrics, the melody, the rhythm, and even the choreography to absolute perfection.” As a result of such attention to detail, “Red Flavor” wowed K-Pop fans all over the world. It graced Billboard and other international music charts — and remains an iconic summer tune.