As the lights in the house dim, four anxious yet eager young musicians peek out onto the audience from their temporary backstage perch, take a deep breath and prepare themselves to enter the stage. In just a few moments they will be ready to begin their performance set in a romantically lit, intimate room full of palpable energy and just a few fortunate fans. In a few moments, CNBLUE will be making history.
The curtains on the back of the ‘Billboard Live’ stage open, and the illumination surrounding Mid Town just outside was revealed setting a backdrop of glowing lights as if to be stars shining onto the space inside. As soon as the four men appeared on stage, the 150 fans in attendance, who were the lucky few to win tickets for the event, gave great cheer and applause. CNBLUE’s tremendous popularity in Japan was proved once again. Fan’s reactions when hearing about the show was explosive as they were excited to see CNBLUE perform on this prestigious stage. Reportedly, 15,000 fans asked to be part of the audience when the program only permits 150 seats. “We were surprised to hear that the application for the tickets was 100 times more than the accommodated ones. We will do our best to show the fans the best stage performance they have ever seen. To our fans, we are really grateful,” CNBLUE members commented.
CNBLUE made their Japanese major debut on October 19th 2011 with ‘In My Head’which has sold more than 100,000 copies to date. That achievement was acknowledged by the Recording Industry Association of Japan, earning CNBLUE the ‘Golden Award’, thus proving their popularity in the country.
Also in October, MTV Japan made huge efforts to support the promising new artists; as a result, CNBLUE was featured in the ‘Hot Seat’ for one whole month. Their skills had been evaluated earlier on and because of their immense popularity, the world’s largest brand for music and entertainment for the youth, MTV, decided to feature CNBLUE on the live traditional acoustic program ‘MTV Unplugged’ scheduled to take place on January 31, 2012.
MTV Unplugged, a music program that features intimate, acoustic live performance sets showcasing the artist in close contact with their fans, started its show tapings in 1989 in New York. Japan’s own version of the program began its broadcast July 2011. Appearing on the traditional acoustic stage that MTV boasts of , since its conception, are world-famous stars such asEric Clapton, Nirvana, Jay-Z, Oasis and now CNBLUE have been added to this prestigious list of renounced performers. CNBLUE has been noted as being the first ever Korean artists to be featured on the program. For a young band that had only made their debut into the music industry just three short years prior, this was no small feat to say the least.
Upon being chosen, the band says the following with enthusiasm:
“To be able to appear on MTV Unplugged, a show that has been involved with many big musicians, it is really a great honor. It’s making us nervous, but for the audience, we will enjoy and work hard for the live.”
One by one the members of CNBLUE appear on the stage and humbly bow to the audience before they find their rightful places and acclimate to their surroundings. The lights dim once again as silence over takes the room and then the sound of their extremely anticipated ear pleasing melodies begin. The first song they perform from their repertoire, one of 12 songs set for today’s event was ‘Let’s Go Crazy’. After they completed the song, lead vocalist Jung Yong Hwa expresses to the audience, “Thank you for coming, though its cold. Didn’t you catch a cold? Let’s get excited together”, and with that said, the band quickly began playing the 2nd song ‘Now or Never’. Though the venue had a different atmosphere from what they were probably used it, fans didn’t hesitate to raise their hands and clap along with the music making it easier for the performers, and the audience to warm up to each other.
The members take short moments between songs for spontaneous talk sessions during the show. At one moment, Yong Hwa expresses in a husky voice, “CNBLUE came to ‘MTV Unplugged’. Kanmuryo desu (It filled me with emotion). I’m honored to be invited though we just debuted.” He was so modest that he gave comment, “Wonder whether we are eligible to perform on this big stage… Honestly, I feel that we need 10 years, no, 100 years before this.”
Since this is the first time that artists from Korea were to appear on the program, they were a little nervous stepping into such a great role. Despite their well hidden nervousness, Lee Jong Hyun, lead guitarist and sometime lead vocalist, showed his glowing smile and stated, “We tried our best to express the simple band sounds that we used to do during Indies period”.
Their Japanese major debut title track ‘In My Head’, which is normally full of rock appeal, was re-arranged to a mellower and softer acoustic sound, almost like a ballad. In fact most of the songs they normally performed in their usual live concert presentation now had a different sense from their usual sound and color. They shined another of CNBLUE’s charm and fascinated the fans with their re-arrangement of ‘Y,Why’. With a new acoustical flavor, lulling guitar stokes from a solo by Jong Hyun, and the soft almost whispering vocals from Yong Hwa, this song captivated the audience who almost didn’t make a sound once the song was through.
As the show was quickly approaching the end, Min Hyuk showed his enthusiasm by exclaiming, “This live is full of nervousness, but I want to grow more and to appear here again!” Jung Shin took his turn to address the intimate space and voiced, “It’s a live with homelike atmosphere. Cold days will still continue. Let’s take care of ourselves and have a wonderful year”, and soon after his statement was finished, he received applause from the spectators.
With the end of the show finally here, the band wanted to give the onlookers a treat of sorts. They performed a teaser version their 2nd major Japanese single ‘Where you are’, visibly and audibly pleasing the audience. With the song ‘Where you are’, CNBLUE went on to top the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart on 13th (released on 6th) as the first appearance. They exceeded their previous single’s ranking (4th), and topped chart for their first time, including all singles and LP albums, since their indie debut in 2009. CNBLUE succeeded to top singles chart for the first time as a non-Japanese band in 41 years, additionally becoming the first Korean rock band to do so.
Preparing for their last song of the night, the boys thanked their fans and added, “When we heard about the number of people who wanted to attend the show in the news we were very surprised. We did our best to put on the best performance for you today. Fans, thank you so much.” Finally, they expressed, “We are standing here thanks to everyone. To thank you, we sing the last song.” Soon after, a hush fell over the audience and the foursome began their final Encore rendition of ‘a.ri.ga.tou.’ with great passion and a tinge of sadness, each of them taking turns to sing a part of the song that was written to express their love and acknowledge to their fans. “We had a lot of fun.” With a very emotional expression, one by one they got up from their designated positions they held so graciously over the duration of their exhilarating performance and stood together. United at the edge of the stage, once again CNBLUE collectively bowed to their audience full of loving fans. They turned and left the stage, waving goodbye one last time before disappearing into the darkness. The show was finally over and behind the scenes; these now pleased young men breathed a sign and gave a cheery ending interview about their relief and gratitude for what they had just accomplished. CNBLUE performed 12 songs in total on this day, the 31st of January, including ‘Try Again, Smile Again’, ‘Kimio’,and ‘Teardrops in the Rain’at ‘Billboard Live’, in Akasaka, Tokyo.
“MTV Unplugged”featuring CNBLUE first aired on February 25, 2012 and has been subsequently released on DVD June 27th 2012. On the same day,”CNBLUE‘s MTV Unplugged Live” DVD was sold and placed fourth only after 1st-3rd place taken by Hukuyama Mashiharu’s DVD.
Release Date: 12/06/27
CNBLUE MTV Unplugged Tracklist:
1. Let’s Go Crazy
2. Now or Never
3. Mr.KIA (Know It All)
4. Try again, Smile again
5. Rain of Blessing
6. Teardrops in the rain
8. In My Head
9. I don’t know why
11. The Way part 1～one time～
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