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C9 apologize and change Holocaust reference in Epex's song, cite '1984' as inspiration

The K-pop label said they didn't realize fans found similarities with Kristallnacht in Epex's 'Anthem of Teen Spirit' since it wasn't intentional
UPDATED APR 13, 2022
While many artists wear uniforms in their music videos, in the case of Epex, coupled with the lyrics, viewers found it insensitive (@the_EPEX/Twitter)
While many artists wear uniforms in their music videos, in the case of Epex, coupled with the lyrics, viewers found it insensitive (@the_EPEX/Twitter)

The K-pop label C9 was previously under fire for making references to the Jewish Holocaust in Epex’s latest comeback. Fans were horrified at the boy group’s lyrics for ‘Anthem of Teen Spirit’ as it included insensitive phrases like ‘I see them burning raw/Crystal night is coming’. Many believed that ‘Crystal night’ was referring to Kristallnacht, a massacre led by Nazi forces and civilians. Coupled with uniform outfits and a Fendi logo that eerily looked like the Nazi symbol, K-pop fans took to social media to show their concern.

With the rookie K-pop group not being responsible for the lyrics or the concept of 'Anthem of Teen Spirit', fans took to blaming Epex’s label, C9, and asked them to apologize for using one of the most inhumane historical moments as an aesthetic for a comeback. Thankfully, C9 has immediately addressed the situation, apologizing and sharing that they will be making changes.

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C9 apologizes for Holocaust reference

A day after the uproar, on April 13, C9 released a statement in English and Korean, apologizing and sharing that they had actually been partly inspired by George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ and did not realize that the plot had been inspired by the dictatorships that had caused the World Wars. With Epex’s latest comeback’s message being about the loneliness and anxiety that teenagers face, the lyrics for ‘Anthem of Teen Spirit’ were a metaphor of “children burning in competition in the windows of numerous academies that are lit up brightly like crystal every night.”

Epex's music video for 'Anthem of Teen Spirit’ (EPEX/YouTube)

Additionally, the shattering of the crystal in the song did not refer to the event Kristallnacht where Jewish people’s only defence was the glass of their shops that the Nazis easily broke. C9 explained that it was a reference to the protagonist’s glass paperweight in ‘1984’. And while their intention was not to reference actual historical events like the Holocaust, they apologized for not checking the context and ‘1984’ references in detail.


Epex change and re-record the song

Lyrics containing the phrase ‘night’ and ‘burning raw’ have been changed and re-recorded in ‘Anthem of Teen Spirit’. As for the uniform outfits that Epex had worn, they shared that it was to express the plot of ‘1984’ and had no connections to Nazis. C9 also hoped that fans would not bash the lyricists as the label had provided the story and keywords that they wanted in ‘Anthem of Teen Spirit’. They said that they take full responsibility and “will be more careful and pay deep attention so that the music, lyrics and music video of Epex do not hurt anyone.”