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What CNBLUE and F.T. Island can learn from ONE OK ROCK

By Staff Reporter | December 24, 2013 09:22 AM EST

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I was lucky enough to attend the ONE OK ROCK concert in Seoul last month and was happily surprised when Taka, the band's lead singer, announced that CNBLUE and F.T. Island were at the concert.

Later that night, while taking a late bus home to Daegu, I started thinking about the differences between the three bands. What could the two most prominent KRock/Pop bands learn from a JRock band like ONE OK ROCK? Honestly, in my opinion I think they could learn a lot which will then allow them fill a nitch in Kpop that foreigners and Koreans alike are itching to have filled.

CNBLUE and F.T. Island are two amazing and talented groups. I had heard of them when I first started getting into Kpop, but it wasn't until their joint performance/ band battle at SBS Gayo last December that I finally realized the potential they had. I've asked myself many times why it took me so long to see them for what they were, and I finally came to the following conclusion: I enjoyed them as rock bands, but not so much as pop/ top 40s bands.

So what is the difference between a rock band and a pop band? A pop band focuses more on the vocals of a song, whereas a rock band incorporates all aspects, guitar, vocals, bass, drums, etc, more evently. The joint SBS Gayo last year showcased the entire group for each band and, even though the audio was not the best, you could hear the underlying rock sound they were trying to convey. And in recent songs, such as F.T. Island's Memory, the groups seem to be trying to pull out more of that rock feel. However, they still have a long way to go.

Why is that rock "feel" so important? In Korea, the rock scene is almost dead. There are no big name or well known Korean rock groups. Indie groups? Pop groups? Underground rappers? Yes to all of the above. But I spoke with a Korean who likes rock music and he had a hard time thinking of more than 1 or 2 Korean groups. Yet Japan, a country that is well known for its pop music, is just as well known for their rock music with international fanbases for groups such as L'Arc~en~Ciel, Dir En Grey, and ONE OK ROCK.

In fact, JRock groups constantly compete with both JPop and KPop groups on music charts like Oricon. In fact, the last album ONE OK ROCK released rose to number 2 on the Oricon weekly charts. ONE OK ROCK's sound is incredibly diverse, which is one of the things that draw many fans to them. They can sound as though they were on the verge of heavy metal one second and then sound as though they were topping the pop charts the next. Though I will admit, it is the rock feel most fans stay around for. And it is the rock feel that keeps them on the charts.

Let me just say that both CNBLUE and F.T. Island do well on the Kpop charts, but I think if they unleashed that diverse sound and filled in the rock nitch, their popularity would unimaginably skyrocket. If there is anything I have learned, it is that both groups have the talent and the ability to show that diverse sound and from the direction they seem to be heading in, both in their MVs and in their live performances, I believe they may be thinking along the same lines as I am.

Keeping my fingers crossed for a rock album from one of the two groups in the near future!

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