5 controversial K-pop songs that fans couldn't stop talking about
The Korean music industry has had its fair share of controversial K-pop songs. Despite the bubblegum image being portrayed by many artists, multiple songs receiving flak from audiences and listeners worldwide exist.
The reasons for the fuss around the songs may range from problematic lyrics to unintentional sacrilege, but the disputed tracks stayed in the minds of the public for a long time. Whether or not these controversial K-pop songs had to make changes according to public opinion is also interesting because it shows how much the view of the audience matters in the commercial music business. Additionally, the discussion over the controversy sometimes assists the song's fame.
This article attempts to look at five such K-pop songs that caused considerable controversy upon their release.
Controversial K-pop songs that will stay on fans' minds: NewJeans' Cookie, BTS' War of Hormone, and 3 more
1) Red Velvet by VIXX's Ravi
In 2021, Ravi from VIXX came under fire from netizens due to his controversial K-pop song, Red Velvet. Part of the rapper's EP album ROSES, the song had alleged sensual references to SM Entertainment's girl group of the same name.
With lyrics like, "I take a bite of a Red Velvet cause I know you love me," coupled with Ravi alluding to Red Velvet's songs such as Russian Roulette and Dumb Dumb, the song was slammed by Korean and international K-pop fans alike.
Eventually, the VIXX rapper released a statement apologizing for the lyrics and took the song off audio and video streaming platforms. He also mentioned that he had contacted SM Entertainment to personally apologize to the group members.
2) War of Hormone by BTS
It is nearly impossible to talk about controversial K-pop songs without this BTS track coming up. Released in 2015, War of Hormone was criticized for its misogynistic lyrics and s*xist implications of the music video.
Despite the rise of a significant debate about the lyrics, with some fans arguing that War of Hormone was talking about how adolescent boys let hormones rule their lives, BIGHIT MUSIC (then Bighit Entertainment) issued an apology statement pertaining to the lyrics.
RM, BTS' leader, has also addressed the misogynistic undertones of the band's earlier songs, saying that he now consults a Women's Studies professor to check his lyrics.
3) Cookie by NewJeans
None of the songs by HYBE Corporation's NewJeans received as much negative publicity as Cookie. The debate originally began because of Min Hee-jin, the brains behind the group, who was known for her inappropriate concepts for idols who were minors, including Red Velvet and SHINee's Taemin.
However, the lyrics behind this controversial K-pop song were deemed to have double entendres unsuitable for young girls. After the hullabaloo on social media, ADOR, HYBE's subsidiary that launched NewJeans, released a statement defending Cookie, stating that the song was not perceived as intended.
4) How You Like That by BLACKPINK
One of BLACKPINK's most famous songs, How You Like That, became controversial after the music video of the song was seen having an idol of the Hindu god Ganesha on the floor next to Lisa, who was seated on the throne. Fans criticized the implication that the Thai rapper was higher than the deity.
The scene was eventually edited to remove the idol from the music video after the uproar on social media, but YG Entertainment and BLACKPINK are yet to issue an official apology. However, the change in the video of the controversial K-pop song indicates that the company took cognizance of fans' complaints.
5) MIROTIC by TVXQ!
Now considered among the group's most famous songs, MIROTIC was once deemed inappropriate by the government for the youth of Korea. The controversial K-pop song was not allowed to be broadcast on television programs across the country, forcing SM Entertainment to release a version without the provocative lyrics.
One particular line in English: "I got you under my skin" was changed to "I got you under my sky," which confused fans about the reason for the change. To date, when other idols cover MIROTIC, they sing the edited version to avoid unintentional issues.
The controversial K-pop songs mentioned above show that despite the fame that many of these idols enjoy, fans are not clueless consumers and demand accountability from those they look up to.