More on the YNot?/CN Blue controversy

More things have happened since we first touched on the subject:

The YNot?/CN Blue plagiarism issue over 파랑새/외톨이야 has escalated during the week as it was announced that YNot? vocalist Ju Mong – who has written 파랑새 – will take legal actions against the songwriters of 외톨이야: Ynot’s Ju Mong to take legal action against CNBLUE’s composer & songwriter.

Now it has been suggested that even the title of CN Blue’s first mini album, Bluetory has been inspired by the same song (파랑새 translating to “blue bird”) as tory (tori) in Japanese could translate to “bird”: CN Blue, ‘Bluetory’ means blue bird?.

Anyone interested in discussing this in the comments?

13 Comments More on the YNot?/CN Blue controversy

  1. janet

    I listened to both songs and they do sound REALLY similar. And the daridiridaradu is kind of a giveaway.

    I feel a little sorry for CNBlue because they had probably never heard the song before, but it’s one of the reasons pop stars really need to be more creatively involved in their work and stop being such puppets.

    I hope YNot? wins the dispute legally.

    But I’m sure from this stigma CNBlue has developed a zillion indie snob anti-fans.

  2. helikoppter

    To be honest the indie snobbery got the better of me already when CN Blue was called an indie band :p To me indie is more about being independent in some way than about playing a certain style of music, and the way they were marketed before even debuting (in Korea) disqualified them from that label in my book. Some time ago nudeviking cleverly called FT Island a gateway band to real rock and I think that label might be appropriate for CN Blue too.

    Anyway, on to the real dispute. Although I do think that credit should be given where credit is due I often think plagiarism accusations tend to grow out of proportion. In this case, however, it’s so much more than just a bit of unauthorized sampling/borrowing and I see no point in denying that.

    I don’t think the plagiarism accusations themselves will do much damage to CN Blue – I hope even indie snobs realize that it’s of little use blaming a product for something its producer is responsible for – but I do think that FNC Music has behaved so arrogantly in this matter that both CN Blue and FT Island will be affected.

    First of all blaming YNot? for noise marketing when the matter was brought up by netizens (if there are reasons to suspect YNot? encouraged those netizens it’s something I have yet to see translated) was not particularly bright, but more so saying that FNC Music would’ve chosen a better foreign song if choosing to plagiarize is extremely insulting. I was so surprised (slightly aggravated even, as it almost felt personal) after reading that statement and could not believe that it came from what was supposed to be a serious company! It did feel a bit better after YNot? expressed the same concerns I had (an insult not just to them but to the indie scene as a whole), but I will definitely think twice before doing anything that could benefit FNC Music from now on.

    That said, I too hope that YNot? will win this. And I’d also like to clarify that my own objections towards CN Blue are more about them posing as not being a product when everything about them seem to say they are. Admittedly this is likely another product/producer issue, but should CN Blue give up their indie label (and change record companies) they don’t even have to start writing their own songs for me to give them a real chance.

  3. saharial

    The one thing I am glad for right now is that netizens have now distinguisged the difference between the band and the songwriter. It seems the fuss is now centering on him as this isn’t the first time that he has done this. Currently its Kim Jong Gook who has a very high profile and is popular in Korea that he wrote a song for that was plagiarized from an Usher track. His trick seems to be in taking the most distinctive and catchy part of the song and building the song around it.
    Jong Hwa seems involved in the lyrics and the one song on the japanese releases and the 2 japanese mini albums does have a less pop sound to them. Bluetory has Korean versions of the japanese releases which were in english.
    As for being indie – i thought they were more of a rock sound than an indie and, with yonghwa being in a drama that was garunteed to be popular it was bound to tone down a little for the Korean market and what the company thinks the audience wants.

  4. wakesidevision

    I wouldn’t solely blame the band since they’re more of another k-idol group that “plays” their instruments. Since the management company has a composer who creates all the tracks, I would place any blame solely on their shoulders and the management.

    The music has to be approved by specific channels and I’m sure it was possible that FNC Music didn’t know of YNot? but it is the arrogance of that company by not admitting they screwed up.

    Either way it’s marketing for both sides and will most likely disappear when the next drama happens and reappear when some decision is made.

    My personal issue with CNBlue is that while they front as a band, they don’t play live. After watching their “lives” on Music Core and Ingikayo, it’s more and more obvious that the guitars are not wired/wireless and the music doesn’t match the strumming.

    The drummer also didn’t match the music on a chorus. You can’t make a ride bell sound on a hi-hat, it’s just not possible.

  5. helikoppter

    Kay, thank you so much for your comments! I was hoping tweeting about it would lure you in for some additional nuances :) Glad to hear your thoughts too, Chris, especially since your tweets on CN Blue performances amused some nights ago.

    As may be apparent above, I haven’t actually put any effort into learning more on CN Blue than I could grasp while skimming through headlines and posts from various kpop blogs, so while I meant for the reasoning above to be of a general kind I’m obviously biased in favor of YNot?. I don’t know whether CN Blue at any point has actually been marketed in Korea as an indie (rock) band as opposed to as simply as a rock band, or if CN Blue being “indie” is just something the kpop blog writers have come up with themselves. Nonetheless it was enough for me to anticipate their official debut with suspicion (despite a history of defending both Moon Hee Jun and The TRAX as rock acts, I might add ;-).

    Like Chris, I find it entirely plausible that FNC Music itself may not have been aware of YNot? and their music (I probably would’ve only been familiar with their name, if I hadn’t taken a liking to their cover of Spitz’s Cherry some years back) and I agree that the plagiarism issue is likely to be forgotten soon – that FNC Music/CN Blue may have “stolen” the title of both the EP and upcoming album from YNot? I’d rather consider entertainment than an actual problem. Still, I imagine the arrogance of FNC Music is what provoked YNot? into legal action (before that they seemed to take it pretty lightly) and while I the actual plagiarism doesn’t bother me that much (another form of marketing, indeed) that is what I will remember about this.

    I’m glad to learn that at least one of the CN Blue members already actively participates in the songwriting process, and I would likely find it interesting to compare Japanese and Korean versions. Though while I wouldn’t be surprised if CN Blue have been told to just make playing instruments look cool on stage, as Chris points out they loose in credibility as a band while doing so.

  6. janet

    I really can’t defend CNBlue on the front of being an ‘indie’ band, as they did strike me initially as a pop-rock band, very mainstream and very well funded.

    Like Nia, I think a lot of their popularity is just fueled by image and appearances versus anything outside of that. In my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t call it indie and I’m kind of surprised the record company would even consider that.

    I don’t blame YNot? for the negative feedback towards CNB by certain netizens, and shame on anyone who does!

    I’m not trying to defend CNBlue for lipsyncing, because almost every pop act does this, and whether you’re playing instruments or just singing and hopping around in highheels, lipsyncing is just an easy way to cheat.

    A lot of people throw this group back to being a kind of 2nd FT Island. But FTI does sometimes perform live, I have seen a few clips and such, and Hongki’s vocal ability at least is something that shows outside of the studio; CN Blue hasn’t really shown me it’s full potential. So in that way, it’s kind of unfair to FT Island to put them in the same boat.

    It was nice to debate this openly. :]

  7. Anonymous

    C.N blue has recording session. they say “we are real band”, but what the hell? when they recording their album, they do not performing themselves!
    instead of C.N blue, other indie band performing C.N blue’s music!!

  8. saharial

    urk..i wrote a whole comment and lost it T__T
    anyway.. i shall repeat…
    the marketing for CNBlue has really, in my opinion, centered around YongHwa the lead singer. And its been darn clever too. Casting him in ‘You’re beautiful’ was a clever move as it brought cnblue to the attention of all the fangirls that wtached the drama for lee honki and jang geun suk. the role of second lead is always one the audience has sympathy for and, include a solo with guitar in a scene and then people take interest. That was the key factor in me looking him up, reading he was in a band and then hearing some tracks on youtube and deciding to buy the Japanese releases. Towards the end of the series or just after they announce cnblue will debut in Korea with a mini album and fanbase multiplies and, already armed with the Japanese releases they will already know some of the tunes to the Korean remakes of the songs. Of course, the debut song is more of a pop rock act with a catchy (if plagiarised) riff add in some photoshoots and variety show appearances and there you have the superocket to fame.
    totally smart! Its also a time in the industry when electro pop dance boy bands are ten a penny, so something different always catches the ear.

  9. javabeans

    Honestly, I think this “indie” label thing is a bit of a nonissue. It’s a misnomer that was attached more by English-language kpop blogs, not the Korean press (although it may be possible that the Korean press has used the term too; I just have seen it more on the English side of the kpopblogosphere). I think those blogs are used to covering manufactured pop acts and idol bands that CN Blue merely seemed “indie” to them and they stuck on the term when, as has been pointed out, they are hardly indie and more pop-rock in aesthetic. The Korean press (as far as I can recall seeing) generally calls them the more appropriate 꽃미남 밴드 (pretty boy band), 아이돌 밴드 (idol band), or simply 그룹 (group) or 밴드 (band).

  10. helikoppter

    FT Island does seem like a pretty good band to me, but I lost interest fairly soon after their first album and haven’t really kept up since. If not looking to their performances on stage however the comparison (as unfair as it might be) is easy to make, being that they’re under the same management and appear to have a similar profile.

    With the exception of Coffee Prince (Tearliner <3) I haven’t watched a drama for many years, but I did actually consider You’re Beautiful because of the band stuff I’d read about/seen on YouTube. That marketing tactic would likely have worked on me too if I hadn’t convinced myself it’s not a good idea for me to start watching something as addictive as Korean dramas again.

    Indie or not is indeed a nonissue – even if the label had been behind it, it isn’t worse than how some artists in the 90s were promoted as “techno” and/or “hiphop”, which always struck me as quite amusing. It might however serve as an example of how shallow people (I) can be when it comes to judging the qualities of an artist without even hearing the music… Many thanks for clearing that up though!

  11. Alex J.

    If I remember correctly (I was curious, so I checked out the episode where they’re addressing the fake band criticisms), CN Blue said that their primary goal was to become the friends of music and bands. In other words, they want to serve as an effective “gateway band” (to borrow the term). As javabeans said, they’re really more pop-rock than anything. I think CN Blue said they were interested in blending rock with other genres/styles, like pop, hip-hop, ballad, etc. (And note that all those other genres are more or less popular in Korean mainstream music scene.) So yeah, gateway band is right.

    Janet, I’m told that CN Blue has played live in clubs/streets in Japan and recently did a guerilla street concert in Hongdae. There should be fancams or something floating around the ‘net somewhere, but I haven’t checked them out yet. As for their full potential… hmm, I don’t know. I feel like I should wait to judge since they’re still a rookie band. (I do like their vocals though, so perhaps that’s why I’m more willing to wait and see :P.) Actually, how long has it been since they’ve debuted? It couldn’t have been very long…

    To echo helikoppter’s sentiments, saharial, I’m glad to hear one of the members have taken up composing. Hopefully something good will come out of that. Giving them some measure of creative freedom might improve their skills to a level that’d probably be better than where they are now. If they’re aiming to be “friends of bands and music,” I think that at least knowing what it’s like to compose would put them at a better position to reach that goal.

    It’s nice to have a calm, civil discussion about this, everyone. Thanks.

  12. Alex J.

    No problem, Janet. Actually, I just dropped by to let you know I’ve found better success finding a wide variety of fancams of their recent live performances at Coex. (Although, perhaps if you look harder than I did, then I’m sure their performances in Japan and Hongdae will pop up somewhere.) I’m also told you can find their studio live performances, but YouTube consistently gives me notices of videos taken down due to copyright violations. :P In any case, good luck with your search!


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