Indie rock k-pop group CNBLUE is back again with their title song “I’m Sorry”, a track and video that just exudes manliness and sexy international appeal, two things that really create that warm fuzzy feeling in the deep pits of my soul.
So let’s break this down. “I’m Sorry” is pretty much classic CNBLUE. In my opinion, the concept for ‘I’m Sorry’ is so universal that it would be extremely generic if I saw it for some US or European rock group; in fact one could almost mistake this music video for some hybrid mix of Maroon 5/Good Charlotte/The Shinedown if you, well, looked past the fact that the band members are all Asian. But because it’s Korean this video suddenly becomes an incredible breakthrough in the industry that really tries to broaden the concept of k-pop by encompassing a much more real and gritty emo-angsty feel that is usually portrayed in a highly produced, unnatural, and exaggerated manner:
Simply the fact that this MV takes place in a believably westernized city (a.k.a. not some staged empty club or stereotypical US neighborhood that just screams “I’m trying too hard to be diverse”), and includes REAL-LIFE non-Asians and GOOD ENGLISH makes this video wildly more accessible to western countries and fans than your average k-pop video. Luckily, CNBLUE is just edgy enough in my opinion for this video to not turn into a ridiculous caricature of your typical western rock music video.
The MV itself is dark and muted, and actually incorporates a lot of subtle cinematography effects, like camera blurs and quick successive transition shots, that give this video a really modern vibe. The concept of the MV can be broken down into 4 separate story lines detailing each member’s individual struggles. Yonghwa is dealing with the anger and pain of heartbreak; Jonghyun is a struggling musician who can’t seem to catch a break; Minhyuk is a brooding, troubled youth who must deal with his pent up anger and depression with alcohol and violence; and Jungshin must face rejection and scorn from the woman he loves.
What perhaps most people don’t put together is that this video is actually a social commentary on the blatant racism that runs rampant in the world today. Take Yonghwa, who has his heart trounced by some (white) girlfriend who doesn’t even have the common courtesy to break up with him in person. Yonghwa is left in desperation, clenching tightly to his phone throughout the entire music video as a symbol of the cultural divide that they were never able to bridge together. Why was his ex-girlfriend sorry? She could no longer deal with the language barrier between them (I mean, did you hear how perfect her english was?). Then we have Jonghyun who is targeted by (white) authorities and is run out of the subway for just trying to make a living pursuing his dream in music. And why does Jonghyun, such a talented musician, have to struggle so hard? Because he’s Asian and the prejudices in the society we live in give him little opportunity or venue for expression. Even sweet-tempered Minhyuk is provoked into a violent rage during the video, which we can only assume was provoked by racism-fueled bullying from the other men in the bar.
In the end they each throw something in frustration and anger to the ground: Yonghwa his battered cellphone, Jonghyun his guitar pick, Minhyuk his bloodied bandage, and Jungshin his rejected roses, all serving as symbolic representations of their own oppression.
OK that probably wasn’t actually the point of the video, but that’s clearly up to your own interpretation. I do, however, really like the continuity and solidarity shown as the different band mates meet up with Yonghwa as he strolls passive aggressively down the street:
Although I’m a bit disappointed that this song doesn’t feature any more nonsensical gibberish as CNBLUE is wont to do (i.e. like in Intuition or I’m a Loner), CNBLUE is really starting to win me over for actually writing the song and lyrics themselves and not constantly changing their image to fit some large entertainment company’s ideas. Word on the street is that CNBLUE iseven planning on playing their instruments live on all their music show performances, something that rarely ever happens due to technological issues. Conclusion: I’m always happy for CNBLUE to come back and bring a little bit more depth to k-pop.