K-pop boyband EPEX have been called out for allegedly referencing the Nazi anti-Jewish pogrom Kristallnacht in their new song ‘Anthem Of Teen Spirit’.
On Monday (April 11), the South Korean music group released their latest mini-album ‘Prelude Of Anxiety Chapter 1. 21st Century Boys’, which was led by the title track ‘Anthem Of Teen Spirit’.
Soon after its release, however, fans of the group started noticing what they alleged to be references to and parallels between the song’s lyrics and the historical event Kristallnacht, a November 1938 pogrom carried out by the Nazi Party against Jews in the city of Danzig.
Fans specifically pointed out the line “I see them burning raw, Crystal Night is coming” from the song’s chorus as what they allege to be a reference to the historical event. On the other hand, others have compared EPEX’s styling in the music video to those worn by Nazi Party officials.
epex’s latest tt references a horrible event in german history where jewish people were terrorised and murdered. please don’t support this song. i’m disgusted and the company + songwriters should apologise. jewish suffering is not an aesthetic. #이펙스 #EPEX #EPEX_2ND_COMEBACK pic.twitter.com/rxjhqS5lUT
— #1 chae luvr (@huachengfanclub) April 11, 2022
✦ #EPEX: Fans Of C9's Boy Group EPEX, Demand An Apology From The Company And Writers Of EPEX's Latest Comeback Due To It Referencing The 'Kristallnacht' Which Was An Attack On Jewish People By The Nazis. They Also Commented On The Offensive Lyrics And Outfits In The Music Video. pic.twitter.com/hpcP3jwjnx
— The Korean Reporter (@TheKRReporter) April 11, 2022
One of the writers of the song, Albin Nordqvist, has since spoken out about the situation, where he clarified that he only worked on the English demo of the track and had no idea about the revisions that had been made. Instead, the songwriter directed fans to message EPEX’s agency C9 Entertainment.
“I have no involvement with the current lyrics or topic. Today is the first day I’ve heard this version,” he wrote in a Twitter thead on April 11. “I would also like to ask you to stop messaging me about this… Please refer to the Agency instead.”
Hi Everyone, Alot of fans of EPEX are Currently reaching out to me regarding the Lyrics of their new title track. I’d kindly ask you to reach out to the Agency itself. I’m only involved with the Original English demo which has Been rewritten, not translated.
— Albin Nordqvist (@AlbinNordqvist) April 11, 2022
Earlier today (April 13), two days after the controversy broke, C9 Entertainment released a statement about the alleged references to Kristallnacht in ‘Anthem Of Teen Spirit’. In its statement, the agency claims that the song was instead inspired by “various literary works, films and physics theories”, with George Owell’s 1984 as one of the main points of reference.
In particular, the company alleges that the song’s lyrics do not reference Kristallnacht, but instead the symbolic “glass paperweight” from the novel. “It has absolutely nothing to do with actual historical events,” C9 Entertainment claims.
The agency later apologised for “not check[ing the metaphor] more carefully and in detail” in its statement. It added that the it has since changed the lyrics for the song and the boyband have re-recorded the controversial parts of ‘Anthem Of Teen Spirit’, and the company is in the process of replacing the song on music services.
이펙스(EPEX)의 미니 3집 [불안의 서 챕터 1. 21세기 소년들]의 타이틀곡 <학원歌> 가사, 뮤직비디오 및 의상 관련 논란에 대한 당사의 입장입니다. pic.twitter.com/wcZF5XZHva
— C9 Entertainment (@OfficialC9ent) April 13, 2022
The label also addressed the boyband’s styling in the video, claiming that “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”.
“We will be more careful and pay deep attention so that the music, lyrics, and music video[es] of EPEX do not hurt anymore,” C9 added. “Once again, we sincerely apologise to everyone.”