Rookie group EPEX recently had a comeback with their third mini album Prelude of Anxiety Chapter 1. ’21st Century Boys.’
EPEX 3rd EP Album Prelude of Anxiety Chapter 1. ‘21st Century Boys’ Album Release
— EPEX Official (@the_EPEX) April 11, 2022
The group has faced backlash in the past for using mental illness as a concept for their debut album Bipolar Pt. 1: Prelude of Anxiety.
And with their latest title track, “Anthem of Teen Spirit,” the company is once again receiving backlash for the mention of a “crystal night” alongside violent gun imagery.
Boom (Hey, yeah)
I see them burning raw
Crystal night is coming
Click, clack, brrr, like
Boom (Hey, yeah)
This is a battlefield
Back up, back up
Chase and flee (Oh)
-Lyrics from “Anthem of Teen Spirit”
Kristallnacht, German for “Crystal Night,” was a real event that happened on the nights of November 9th-10th, 1938, as a precursor to World War II when a violent riot broke out throughout Nazi Germany against the Jewish people. The term “Crystal Night” was used to reference the shards of broken glass that littered the streets from destroyed Jewish businesses. Kristallnacht resulted in an estimated range of 91 to nearly 700 deaths, the destruction of over 7,000 businesses, and the arrests of over 30,000 Jewish men who ended up in concentration camps.
Since the lyrics of “Anthem of Teen Spirit,” the music video, and the military-style outfits seemed to reference such a great tragedy, fans were convinced that the company chose to use Kristallnacht as the theme for the comeback. Fans of the group took to Twitter, demanding that the company release a statement and apology.
C9 Entertainment released an official statement, both in Korean and English, to their Twitter on April 12th.
Hello, this is C9 Entertainment. This is our position on the controversy over the lyrics, music video, and costumes of EPEX’s title song “Anthem of Teen Spirit” in EPEX 3rd EP Album Prelude of Anxiety Chapter 1. ’21st Century Boys.’
The company explained that the song was inspired by various content, including George Orwell’s 1984.
The music, lyrics, and music video of EPEX are based on various literary works, films, and physical theories. Among them, many parts of this album were inspired by George Orwell’s book 1984, published in 1949.
George Orwell’s 1984 is a classic literary novel that depicts a dystopian society, including themes of totalitarianism, mass surveillance (“big brother”), and repressive regimentation. The government depicted in the novel was modeled after Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. 1984 is seen as a cautionary tale, focusing on the role of truth and facts within politics.
C9 Entertainment explains that the lyrics “the night in the crystal” were meant to allude to the glass paperweight that appeared in 1984. Similarly, it was intended to represent the concept of children “burning in competition in the windows of numerous academies.”
“Anthem of Teen Spirit” is a song that points out and warns of the harm caused by the robotized education system that Korean youths are experiencing. In the lyrics, “the night in the crystal” expresses the realistic life of teenagers, used as a metaphor for the images of children burning in competition in the windows of numerous academies that are lit up brightly like crystal every night, and another expression is from the “glass paperweight” appearing in 1984. Also, in 1984, the main character’s most precious “glass paperweight” was broken when he was arrested by party members, so the words were combined and used to the lyrics. It has absolutely nothing to do with actual historical events. It can also be clearly seen through the title name, “학원歌” literal translation is “Academy Song” (“Anthem of Teen Spirit”).
The above expression was judged complacently as an element of metaphor, and the data was not checked more carefully and in detail. We sincerely apologize to everyone in Korea and abroad for not paying attention to the use of controversial content. We take full responsibility for the controversy that has arisen, and we apolgozie agtain to the many people who were offended.
In recognition of the problematic lyrics, C9 Entertainment explains that going forward, they are officially changing many of the lyrics of “Anthem of Teen Spirit.”
Therefore, we would like to change some parts of the lyrics of “Anthem of Teen Spirit,” which were unintentionally misunderstood, as follows.
– “the night in the crystal” > “Myself in the crystal”
– “Tonight, the crystals that protected us are shattered)” > “the crystals that protected us are shattered, today, I will”
– “I see them burning raw” > “I see them running now”
– “Crystal Night is coming” > “Crystal Light is coming”
They lyrics above have already been re-recorded, and we will change and register them with all music service companies around the world as soon as possible.
The company also addressed the interpretation of the music video and styling for “Anthem of Teen Spirit.” Clarifying that the only source content was 1984.
In addition, there are allegations that some part of the music video and costumes of “Anthem of Teen SPirit” represent real historical events, but this is clearly not true. All costumes and contents were expressed using the setting and lines of 1984 as a motif, and there is no connection with actual events, people, or groups.
C9 Entertainment also made sure to address that the company itself was entirely responsible for the song’s lyrics and that none of the English demo or Korean lyricists were at fault.
Finally, the participated composers of “Anthem of Teen Spirit” used different English lyrics for the demon song, which has nothing to do with the content of the final lyrics. In the case of the lyricist, we have provided the story and keywords that we want to express in the lyrics and comissioned the work, so it is irrelevant ot the intention of the lyricist. The final lyrics of the song were written entirely in our opinion. We hope that misunderstandings about related composers and lyricists will not spread any further.
The company has also promised to pay more attention to their content in the future.
By taking this opportunity, we will be more careful and pay deep attention so that the music, lyrics, and music video of EPEX do not hurt anyone.
Once again, we sincerely apologize to everyone.
You can read more about the criticism here.