CNBlue’s “Can’t Stop”

CNBlue_CantStop

I know half the K-pop planet is all over Girls’ Generation at the moment, but I thought I’d take the time to briefly mention this little mini that came out a day or two ago: CNBlue‘s Can’t Stop.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75KBwVtd_W0]

I’m pretty hot and cold with CNBlue’s brand of music. Their Korean releases have a very distinctive pop-rock sound that I don’t always like for more than a couple of listens, though if you asked me exactly why that is, I probably couldn’t give a proper answer. I’m actually more fond of their Japanese presence; unfortunately, that comes with lamenting the fact that they’re always singing in English. But past experiences aside, I’m happy with Can’t Stop, to the extent that CNBlue finally makes music that is different on the exterior, but still true to their roots. Over the years, my gripe with the group is that they’ve gotten into the pattern of releasing the same sort of lead single ad-nauseum, so seeing the piano based “Can’t Stop” is a breath of fresh air.

What makes the song stand out though is the juxtaposition of the conservative melody in the verses with the blown-up chorus. It’s creative in the sense that it doesn’t make a conscious effort to “be artistic,” which I seem to be seeing more and more of as an increasing number of idol acts try to put pen to paper and write music. Songwriting is often about following the flow of the melody you start out with; we should be able to guess where you’re going without feeling like we’ve already been told where the the destination is. I guess one could call it a form of storytelling where the listener latches on to the familiar such that she can wade through what she doesn’t know. It’s a fine line that musicians tread between telling and showing; active and passive; artistic and pretentious–CNBlue survives it and then some with their title track.

The rest of the album is similar in aura. It doesn’t boast much, yet it doesn’t disappoint either. The songs flow together naturally within the boundaries of CNBlue’s abilities, all the while presenting something that will impress listeners. Here’s my favorite track, “Cold Love”:

CNBlue isn’t quite at the point where they can create a full immersion through their music (like popular band counterparts Jaurim and Nell); nevertheless I like watching CNBlue start developing towards that point, in theory at least. Do I think CNBlue will get to the point that they “become one with the music?” (Goodness, that phrase sounds so archaic, if not hackneyed.)

No, not at all. I don’t think it will get there, nor do I want it to go there, for it will sacrifice the identity of the band. CNBlue’s broad reach exists because it makes pop-rock music effortlessly fun and relentlessly catchy. Each track flies by without another thought, existing as the epitome of simplified deliciousness. I don’t want to always have to think about what I listen to, be it good or bad, and CNBlue delivers the good side of a lion in sheep’s clothing.

K-pop is a mixed bag of hits, misses, and troll works–in this world, CNBlue stands out as a consistently decent band. No matter how many times I get annoyed at them for constantly releasing what is virtually the same song rehashed, I’m going to give their album plenty of listens. Can’t Stop is no exception to that rule. In fact, I could say that Can’t Stop takes one step further than just being decent, which makes the EP quite the success for the band. You don’t really need much more than that.

What do you all think of Can’t Stop? Which song did you like best?

Full Album:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdEP-Lpr0BU&list=PLUe4f9Byr_mg-kJP9_oOajyTuRDkdc-Mv&index=2]

(FNC Entertainment, Soundcloud, Youtube)

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16 responses to “CNBlue’s “Can’t Stop”

  1. Sometimes I think CNBlue is just ol reliable, good, never great. But you put it to perspective, as that is one of their charms. I also think I like to watch them perform live as much as I like to listen to them. They are just so…comfortable, but at the same time energizing.

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  2. “CNBlue isn’t quite at the point where they can create a full immersion through their music”
    I disagree with this.
    I listen to Nell and other indie rock bands too, and I understand that CNBLUE is definitely on a different path, but I still think CNBLUE is really truly “one with their music.”

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    • This is definitely a matter of opinion more than anything else, so I understand how you feel. To me “immersion” is “being one with the music,” from both MY end and the artist’s end. When I’m immersed in a song, I get chill up my spine; the vocals hit all the right intervals in just the right vocal style…musicality, I suppose.

      It’s hard to explain what I’m getting at, but Yonghwa’s vocals and compositions are missing something critical. He sings things straight and plays things straight, and while he’s growing along with the rest of the band, I can’t say that even “Cold Love” has reached this magic threshold yet. But just because it hasn’t, it doesn’t mean I love it any less.

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      • I hope you get the chance to see them perform live (in person) one of these days. Their sound gets edgier when performed live. It would really be interesting to read your review/insights then (especially about the part about them not being “one with their music”). Have a great day!

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        • You have a really good point there. It’s said that music’s “reality” comes through its permutations in live settings, so I do have a very limited outlook on the band’s performance style. Also “being one with music” is a very subjective term, and what I feel immersive may not be what you think is immersive. I’m just stating my opinion on the matter.

          But if you want to know my reasoning for my opinion, (beyond the really vague mention I gave in the post,) simply ask!

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      • I wish for u that u can see them perform live and not on the mere computer screen. And i will come back again to see your opinion again about being one with the music. And abouth yonghwa singing and playing straight 🙂

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        • I guess no one will believe me when I say this, but “singing straight” in itself is not a problem at all. That’s why CNBlue is popular, they know how to drive the catchy hooks home, and is able to appeal to broad audience. With musical depth comes a quieter and more narrow audience. This doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, it merely means that they appeal to very different types of listening. One can appreciate both quite easily. I jump from Jaurim/MOT to something as generic as SNSD without a second glance. Music is subjective like that. (But you knew that. :D)

          In that sense, CNBlue appeals to an intermediate. You can see that their music has identity and potential to become something deeper, and “Cold Love” shows glimmers of that happening; there’s a fuller sound, a strong blend between musical elements. As for Yonghwa’s singing, there isn’t much inflection. He doesn’t give color to the song (at least as far as I can see in the recording); put this in comparison to Kim Yoon-ah of Jaurim. Her voice is the foundation of Jaurim, and the cadences that she establishes via her voice alone are epitome of Jaurim’s music.

          But with this complexity, we lose the hook, which CNBlue does impeccably. Take “Can’t Stop Me Now”–the song is really easy to sing to–I find myself humming to it at the most random moments. It’s a earworm.

          Would I then, start pulling out “Icarus” subconsciously? No, that’s too hard. It’s this quality that makes CNBlue enjoyable and widely so. You and I probably have different tastes and perspectives on music, but that doesn’t make us enjoy CNBlue any less. This is the point I was trying to get to in my “review” of the album, though I arguably did a bad job of it XD.

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          • My post has no intention of fan war. Forgive me if i sounded like that 😀 i honestly really wish u see them live. I agree with u that preference is the key word when it comes to music. The only reason that my eyebrow raises is when u said about not being one with the music and to think u only see them in youtube. Either u see them in fancam which mostly has bad quality and girls screaming or in a music show that has several edits. Anyway peace 😀 have a nice day 😀

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  3. Best.CNBLUE.Album.Yet!
    I only wish it was a full album instead of just 6 tracks. My favourite is “Like a Child”. It sounds like something from Coldplay’s repertoire… really easy listening and uplifting. I can listen to it all day.

    I also think “Can’t Stop” is their best title track so far. I always felt their previous songs were a bit too try hard but this song felt more organic. It has a nice hook that doesn’t grate on my nerves.

    Compared to their labelmates, FT Island, Yonghwa does seem like the weaker lead vocalist but he has improved a lot. It can be seen when they are able to play live on stage. The whole group comes alive and their energy and chemistry is palpable. Even songs that I did not particularly like before become standouts when I hear them live.

    In short, I am liking the direction CNBLUE is taking and I hope they continue with this sound.

    Liked by 1 person

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