[MINI-ALBUM] CNBLUE – Ear Fun

No one can say CNBLUE are not consistent; their sound is well-established to the point all tracks on the mini-album are fundamentally the same.

I only came across CNBLUE’s music when I saw them live at the Sydney Kpop Music Festival back in November 2011 and was very impressed with the performance they put on. When Ear Fun was released I thought I’d give it a listen to see if they were just as captivating on CD as they were live.  Contrary to what the ridiculous title suggested, Ear Fun only proved to be temporary fun for my ears as none of the tracks stayed with me after I finished listening.

CNBLUE - Ear Fun

I should preface I am a hard rock and metal lover from way back and it goes without saying that, despite my love for pop, soft rock is not something I particularly enjoy. As most of my days are now spent enjoying upbeat pop with intricate choreography a part of me does tingle with excitement when I see a group holding instruments. CNBLUE certainly have caught my attention and, despite my minimal interest in soft rock, I do appreciate their music more than label mate FT Island who sound painfully like something out of the 1960s.

When 아직 사랑한다 [Still In Love] was released prior to the official drop I didn’t hold particular high expectations for the mini-album. While the track has a nice beat and has me tapping my fingers on the table, there is nothing about the song that grabs me; the MV is boring, depicting the boys in a recording studio, and while Yonghwa has a great voice, I found the vocals to be a little flat. The song itself is not bad but is something I would prefer to listen to in the background than actively bop along to.

Title track Hey You, released with an MV on March 25, is more dynamic than 아직 사랑한다 [Still In Love]. Hey You is quite mellow but still contains CNBLUE’s trademark boppy tune and is certainly catchy enough to stick in one’s head. The MV is also notably more inspired than the previously released track and probably about as interesting MVs of this genre get. With the vocal spotlight shared out with fellow band mates, Hey You has a distinct flavour and diversity compared to other tracks on the mini-album. But this still doesn’t make it great.

Following on from the two promotional tracks is Dream Boy. Dream Boy is the most light-hearted song on the mini-album, boasting a softer, fluffier melody. It has a very generic sound and really does seem like something I have heard before, but as far as I can tell it hasn’t been released prior to Ear Fun (please correct me if I’m wrong!). In any case, I don’t find this track to be anything particularly special. It’s nice to listen to, but that’s about it.

The latter half of Ear Fun is definitely the highlight and swiftly moves into the fun track Rock n Roll, an aptly named song that contains a great retro rock ‘n’ roll feel. The song is a hit right from the opening guitar rift through to the bouncy vocals and funky chorus. This track really makes me want to hit the floor and jive, which is of course a good thing. Following directly on from this catchy song is Run, which builds steadily into yet another catchy chorus and highlights the power in Yonghwa’s vocal chords. The lengthy guitar solo is also what one would expect of this genre of music.

In addition to Run and Rock n Roll, In My Head is probably the best track on the album. Despite being a Korean remake of popular Japanese 2011 single of the same name, In My Head is a great song which fits in well with the rest of the mini-album. If anything no one can say CNBLUE are not consistent; their sound is well-established to the point all tracks on the mini-album are fundamentally the same. Each track is equally as catchy with mellow guitar riffs, smooth vocals and steady beat. In My Head is the standout, however, showcasing husky and powerful vocals in the chorus and is certainly my favourite.

Fans of CNBLUE will no doubt be satisfied with this solid little mini-album; all tracks are good and none are profoundly boring. My main qualm is the overwhelming sensation of sameness I am left with at completion of Ear Fun.  While CNBLUE are a nice change from the electronic-heavy pop I usually review, they are certainly a group I prefer to admire live on stage than through the headphones of my iPod.

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7 responses

  1. Woo, I finally found a person who likes hard rock and metal, along with Kpop, I am satisfied. :)
    As for this mini, I personally love In My Head the most but the rest of the songs aren’t bad as well, I think it’s a solid release. I like the fact that CN Blue are very consistent with their sound and do not drastically change and pull a LEDApple on us. ^_^ thanks for the review!

    • Haha yeah I’ve been a rock fan for like ten years or more lol. I got into Asian pop music through Visual Kei, which more than satisfied a lot of my metal desires. Until I got bored of it, haha. I’m currently beside myself for Linkin Park’s new single and still lamenting not being able to see Slipknot again when they were here last month for Soundwaves. But anyways.

      None of the songs are bad by any stretch. It’s a very solid release just a tad bland for my tastes. I only just discovered LEDApple and love their song “Time’s Up” but haven’t heard any of their back catelogue. I’m contemplating doing a review of their newest release. Maybe.

      • No, I actually like LEDApple’s new stuff but they completely (well, almost) changed their sound from before.
        And omg, you missed Slipknot? That sucks majorly. I’m currently listening to Shinedown’s new album (it’s really good) and waiting for Sick Puppies to release something new :D

      • I did but it wasn’t the end of the world as I saw them back in 2008. There were a lot of other bands at the festival I wanted to see though–System of a Down, Atreyu, Trivium …

        OMG I love Sick Puppies! I hope they release something soon! :D

  2. Hi, thanks for the review. I’m a CNBLUE supporter and am always interested to read what others think of the band’s music as I believe they are in a very interesting situation – straddling the world of ‘idol’ and ‘pop’ music and what I believe is their true core: rock or at least modern rock.

    Perhaps because I’m more an alt-rock than pop listener, I prefer almost all their Japanese releases more than their Korean ones (save for Tattoo which I LOVE from their Bluelove mini album) – those songs are much more raw and unique. Agree with you that CNBLUE is best appreciated live, their all live performances are so much more powerful and intense. I went to their LA concert in early March and their vocals and instrument skills are pretty dam* impressive for such a young band. The whole concert was simply electrifying, especially when they let loose with their vocal ad-libs and instrument jams.

    I will agree with your assessment on Ear Fun, overall a good, solid album, but I know they can do so much more if they were given more control in producing the album. Like you, my favorite track is In My Head – interesting to note that is the one song that Yong Hwa claims full credit for lyrics and composition (the other 4 tracks list him as co-composer and Hey You was written by the same guy who wrote their other Korean title tracks). I cannot help but wonder what direction this band will take when Yong Hwa gets his time off (he’s apparently negotiated it with his agency) after these promotions to re-think the direction of CNBLUE’s music. If it’s more in the direction of In My Head than Hey You, I’m all in!

  3. Yonghwa and Jonghyun’s vocals in this minialbum really impressive and they make each song sound great to my ears. Especially in In My Head, Yonghwa’s voice, the way he sing it, and the lyrics that he wrote leave deep impression for me. There’s different feel compare to In My Head Japanese version even thought i love both version. All in all, i feel this album is a nice choice to cheer up my mood.

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