On August 27, the label uploaded a statement to its official website in Korean and English addressing concerns surrounding the lyrical content of ‘Cookie’, which is part of the group’s debut EP ‘New Jeans’.
After its release on August 1, the song came under fire by listeners criticising the lyrics as “sexual” and inappropriate due to the ages of NewJeans’ members, which range from 14 to 18 (15 to 19 years in Korean age). Some lines listeners singled out from the lyrics include “Looking at my cookie / Do you ever smell it different? (Taste it) / What’s with a bite, isn’t enough?”. Some listeners also pointed out how the word “cookie” is also colloquial slang for genitalia among some English-speakers.
The members of NewJeans have said in a previously-released TikTok that the “cookie” in the track refers to their fresh music and sound. ADOR maintains this position in its statement, which also includes a in-depth explanation of all four songs on the act’s self-titled debut EP.
“The ADOR team didn’t take any issue with the lyrics to ‘Cookie’ when we were making the album because our vision for original and wholesome music was crystal clear to us,” said the label, adding that “slang terms aren’t taught in school and not everyone is familiar with them.”
ADOR also said that it had consulted with English-language professors and interpreters regarding the controversy, who the label claims suggested that it was not a “commonplace interpretation” of the word. However, ADOR also acknowledged that “any listener could take the word to mean something different depending on their personal experience and exposure to certain slang meanings.”
ADOR went on to share that ‘Cookie’ was written by two native English speakers – a Korean woman and Swedish woman, both in their thirties – in response to erroneous claims that the song was written by a man.
The label also said it was “concerned” that comments about the ages of NewJeans members portrayed them “as an unusually young group”, “when other teenage groups have similar lineups”. It also noted “the stereotype some people hold that young people are unassertive and uninvolved with the world around them”.
ADOR also commented on the possibility that its “long explanation” would have “no sway over people who have already made up their minds about the issue”, adding: “After all, a toxic perspective can take something harmless and see it as something that’s anything but. We believe the most important factor when it comes to interpretation is context. As always, context is key.”
It also added that it had been “heartbreaking” to see comments suggesting that the agency had intentionally caused controversy to stir up attention for NewJeans. “This is in no way the kind of attention that the group, nor ADOR, nor even their adoring fans, are after, and these unfounded rumours have really taken their toll on everyone involved with the project,” finished ADOR, before signing off on its statement, which you can read in full here.
This statement from ADOR comes weeks after ADOR said it would take legal action against “malicious activities” targeting NewJeans. In that announcement made a week after the release of ‘New Jeans’, the label did not cite nor describe specific cases or incidents but said it would not extend “settlements or leniency” against those behind “ill-intentioned criticism, the spread of groundless information and defamation” about the girl group.