I Don’t Take A Break, I Break Bricks: Rhetorical And Poetic Devices In CNBLUE Lyrics

April 2, 2022 at 9:51 am Leave a comment

Wordsmithing

So since I’ve been spending the past 10 days in a quarantine hotel in Taipei as part of the social experiment that is Taiwan’s COVID-10 response, I have a lot of time on my hands. Around the fifth day of my quarantine I came across a twitter thread with examples of rhetorical devices in Taylor Swift lyrics, which inspired me to adapt the idea to a list of rhetorical and poetic devices in CNBLUE’s lyrics. CNBLUE’s leader and chief songwriter Jung Yonghwa, who writes in English and Japanese (in collaboration with Japanese translators) as well as his native Korean, has a distinctive way with words and it was interesting to analyze the craft he puts into his wordsmithing. I’m no rhetorician so some of my examples might not be quite right but I had a good time doing a deep dive into the lyrics of my favorite band.

Lyrics in translation from Korean or Japanese are in italics. All others are in their original English. All lyrics by Jung Yonghwa unless otherwise noted. A version of this originally appeared as a twitter thread. Some lyrics are from solo releases by Yonghwa. Many translations courtesy of justjyh.com

1. ALLITERATION: the succession of words with similar sounds

“Let’s stay sober tonight”

–Stay Sober

2. ANAPHORA: the repetition of a word or phrase in successive clauses.

“I think of you at the blowing wind
I think of you at the dazzling sunlight”

–Can’t Stop

“My heart stops at this cold love, my heart breaks into pieces
My breath stops at this sick love, my breath slowly dies”

–Cold Love

“Love is meant to be cruel

Love is meant to be piercing

Love is meant to be like fire”

–Love Is

3. ANTANACLASIS: The repetition of a word within a phrase or sentence in which the second occurrence utilizes a different meaning from the first.

I don’t take a break, I break bricks

–Ryu Can Do It

4. ANTIMETABOLE: The repetition of words in successive clauses in transposed order.

I see right through you the same
Same way you see right through me

–Brothers

5. APOSTROPHE: any instance when the speaker talks to a person or object that is absent from the poem.

Hello Hello Hello Mr.KIA

Don’t be such a snob

Don’t get on the high horse, man

–Mr. KIA

6. ASSONANCE: The repetition of similar vowel sounds in neighboring words.

“You shine a light so bright that it’s blinding
Like a firework that’s blooming in the sky”

–Summer Dream

7. ASYNDETON: the omission of conjunctions from a phrase or sentence.

“People become enemies, piercing, ripping, disappearing”

–Checkmate

8. BLASON: describes the physical attributes of a subject, usually female.

“It’s the stain of your lipstick

On the glass that you share with

Slowly crossin’ your legs

As you’re playin’ with your hair”

–Make You Mine

9. ENJAMBMENT: a line break that interrupts the flow of a sentence

“Slowly tracin’ all the droplets
As they’re drippin’ off your hair it’s

So amazing how you find

Another way to blow my mind”

–Make You Mine

10. EPISTROPHE (aka epiphora): the repetition of a word or expression at the end of successive phrases or verses.

“Can’t you be my light?

 Please be my light”

–Lonely Night

“Geunal geunal geunal geunal geunal

11. EPIZEUXIS: The repeated use of a word for vehemence or emphasis, generally in the same sentence.

“That day, that day, that day, that day, that day”

–One Fine Day

 “I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know who I am who I am who I am”

–Till Then

12. EXTENDED or SUSTAINED METAPHOR; the use of a single metaphor or analogy throughout a poem.

“If life is nothing but a party
Your name is on the marquee”

–Life Is A Party

“Even if there are speed bumps to slow me down
I have to speed up again

I keep stopping, when I start to go, I stop again
I raise the speed but you tell me to stop”

–Navigation

 “We’re like a puzzle

I want to put them together

Fitting vivid-colored pieces with each other”

–Puzzle

 “Because the heart can act like a mirror

In a reflection of one another

The pieces coming together make the world brighter”

–Mirror

“Even sweet rest is utterly bitter survival”

13. HYPERBOLE: The use of exaggerated terms for the purpose of emphasis or heightened effect.

“Even sweet rest is utterly bitter survival”

–Royal Rumble

“On the blackest of the nights

My heart burns blacker than the night”

–Tattoo

14. HYPERCATALECTIC: having an extra syllable or syllables at the end of a metrically complete verse

“It’s time of the season
I just wanna breathe it in”

–Summer Dream

15. HYPOCATASTASIS: An implied comparison or resemblance that does not directly name its referent (an implied SIMILE or METAPHOR).

“The streets of Paris speak to me”

–The Moment

16. INTERNAL RHYME: two rhyming words juxtaposed inside of the line

“What can I do to get you through

And make you change your mind?”

–Someone Else

17. LETTER-FOR-LETTER SPELLING

“D.I.A.M.O.N.D girl”

–Diamond Girl

18. METAPHOR: A comparison which directly relates one thing to another unrelated thing.

“Every night’s a breath of life when the city never sleeps”

–Life Is A Party

 “We are the fire in the rain”

–Fire and Rain

 “I’m your navigation”

–Navigation

19. METONYMY: the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is associated

“Only black and white, like the piano”

–Still
20. ONOMATOPOEIA: a word that sounds like the noise it describes

“Tick tock when I see you”

–Face To Face

21. PARALLELISM: the usage of repeating words and forms to give pattern and rhythm to a passage, either to juxtapose contrasting ideas or connect similar ideas.

“’Cause when I’m with you
You’re not with me”

–Someone Else

When I see you I can’t breathe, I need to see you to breathe”

22. PARADOX: a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true

“When I see you I can’t breathe, I need to see you to breathe”

–Between us

23. SIMILE: A stated comparison (usually formed with “like” or “as”) between two dissimilar things.

“Something in the way that you laugh is like a sunflower”

–Summer Dream

 “Like a child

Just like heaven”

–Like A Child

“Like the water drops that soak the dry earth

You filled my insecure heart”

–Glory Days

“My past times are on film like a movie star”

–27 Years

 “I can feel your lips settle down on mine like a butterfly”*

–Daisy

*lyric by Lee Jungshin
24. SLANT RHYME: two words located at the end of a line of poetry themselves end in similar—but not identical—consonant sounds or syllable

“Don’t know how to describe

What’s going on inside”

–The Moment

 “Can you let me breath?

Can you let me dream?”

–Lonely Night

“Every day is a miracle

The colors are a spectacle”

–Summer Dream

25. CONCEIT: a typically unconventional, logically complex, or surprising metaphor whose appeal is more intellectual than emotional

“People told me nothing’s easy, that’s why I go hard”

–Ryu Can Do It

 “When the cloud covers the sky

And stars have closed their eyes”

–Supernova

 “So I’m drunk by noisy sights”

–Jellyfish

Entry filed under: CNBLUE, Jung Yonghwa, Kang Minhyuk, Lee Jonghyun, Lee Jungshin. Tags: , , , , .

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