[Review] [Album] CNBlue – “Code Name Blue”

written by: McRoth

CNBlue might have kicked off their career in Japan, but after an extended stay in Korea, a slew of Korean EPs later, and many smaller endeavors in between, their first ever Japanese LP, humbly titled ‘Code Name Blue‘, is the group’s first real and most honest Japanese project to date. Written and composed almost entirely by frontman Yonghwa, ‘CNB’ is a blanket of craftsmanship, creativity, and musical identity; three elements I remember really enjoying about CNBlue’s earliest work, and three elements that are harnessed to their fullest potential in this album.

‘CNB’ is woven with the same pop-y hand that gave birth to the iconic CNBlue style we hear today; admittedly, a style that tends to wear heavy on my ears after constant rotation. But to my pleasant surprise, the campy details that plague their Korean work are dispersed and cut with braver musical elements in this project, making for a far more well-rounded listening experience.

In My Head” is a prime example of this, as it eases the ear down a heavy-handed rock anthem filled with lots and lots of bass. It’s an addicting track that exists to showcase the boys as full-blown rock stars, which this album does it really, really well (“Come On” is another winning rock banger).

If there’s a bigger-picture takeaway from ‘Code Name Blue’, it’s that it manages to weave together very different styles that all work perfectly under CNBlue’s unique pop identity. It’s like viewing the same piece of art from different angles, each visualized in full throughout this album. For instance, the light-disco vibes heard in most CNBlue records are catapulted to glorious levels in “No More“, while the boys serve Maroon 5 realness in more alternative-pop tracks like “Where You Are“.

The diverse pallet of ‘Code Name Blue’ achieves a fulfilling experience and allows us a sweet listen to every corner of the CNBlue sound without ever striking a chord of redundancy. Almost all of these songs were released in one shape or form before this album, but CNBlue have done a fantastic job of piecing them together, not only to flow well, but sound like they were actually meant to coexist under this release. Even the placement of each track was well thought out; the album starts on a strong, energetic step forward, and doesn’t unhinge you until half way through the tracklist, where we’re welcomed by steadier tempos and colorful melodies (see “These Days” and “Blue Sky“).

It’s a strong album for CNBlue and it’s a strong album on the whole. Albums, either in Japan or Korea, are rarely this cohesive, but ‘Code Name Blue’ graces through from beginning to end in high fashion, and it’s probably one of my favorite releases in Japan by a K-Pop group this year.

Purchase ‘Code Name Blue’ by CNBlue on YesAsia!



In My Head
Where You Are
Time Is Over
Have a Good Night
Wake Up
No More
These Days
Blue Sky
Mr. KIA (Know It All)
 Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
With Me
Get Away
Come On
Total Points

Points to stars conversion: [(9.25/12) x 5] + 0.25*


*there is a 0.25 bonus for every album. The logic is that, if every song were “pretty good”, it’s a 4-star album.


15 thoughts on “[Review] [Album] CNBlue – “Code Name Blue”

  1. Thanks for reviewing this! I totally agree with you, this album is great. ‘In My Head’ just might be my favourite C.N.Blue song to date. Here’s hoping they get to participate as much in their next Korean release and the company doesn’t force them to release I’m A Loner ver. 5, because this album (along with past tracks they’ve written which would have made way more suitable title tracks) definitely shows they are capable of more.

    • No problem! And I agree. I hope they’re not as boxed in as K-Pop tends to do with everyone. Idols need to shake things up sometimes, and for a group that is pushed as a band, that liberty is worth twice as much. Let’s give it to them.

  2. Finally an honest review of the album. It has been a long time since I could say that I enjoyed every single song in an album. This is an album where I really enjoyed every song from start to endbecasue it just flows so naturally, starting with a strong beat with In My Head, building up that excitement and having a party with Have a Good Night and Wake Up, and then giving the listerner a breather in the middle with the slightly slower songs, and finally building up to a grand finale with Get Away and Come On….oh what a ride! Hope these boys have the same freedom to craft their next Korean album which is due in November and thanks for this review.

  3. Pingback: [리뷰/번역] “Code Name Blue” by McRoth’s Residence | CNBLUE the Band

  4. Thanks for a review. As a big fan of Cnblue, I’m happy to see this kind of honest review, but I’m sorry that you scored “Time is over” at comparatively low grade. Personally I liked the song, especially the combinations of instruments and rap( seemedl like whisper).

  5. Thank you for this review. Not only because it’s positive overall, but because you actually gave it a careful listen. It provides one of the very few reviews I’ve found so far on this album, which deserves far more discourse in my opinion. I hope you don’t mind it being translated into Korean at our blog.

    • Not at all! It took a while to get to, because people had requested it multiple times, but as soon as I was ready to actually write a review, it came rather easily because the album itself provided a lot of enjoyment to my ears. It is a really great album and I’m glad I listened to it because it made me like them more than I already did.

      Thanks for reading and appreciating my review and let me know what other people think! :)

  6. Thanks for reviewing this album! i’m really happy CNBLUE has the liberty to decide every little detail in their Japanese work, they decided the order of the tracks and it’s perfect. When i listen this album i start with intro until the end, hope they are allowed to do the same for their next korean album….FNC’s CEO made a promise about it to Yonghwa so i hope he keeps his word. U.U

  7. this is a great skim through review i have ever read from this site … generally talking about the songs that gained your attention …many songs were given high scores …almost every song !! …
    glad to know that you liked it because i do too ^^ … with previously knowing your taste in music ..having already read some brutally honest reviews on kpop music and albums … and to be honest i was worried that the brutal honesty to appear here ..but i was glad this album won you over
    the songs has a new and different sound from the other …this album has so much variety …not just the one ‘loner’ tune, this band has some tricks ..showing it clearly in code name blue album…
    every time i hear the songs they sound new and fresh (at least to me) especially have a good night, wake up, with me, no more and my favorite song ‘these days’ <<<( cant count the times i replayed this song ) …as for the rock songs ….they are thrilling and interesting
    can't wait to hear their new japanese single set to be released december 19 ….

  8. Thank you for making this review. I agree, i enjoy the diverse pallet of this album and it still spell “CNBLUE” as a whole. This is what I like about their Japan’s releases, where yonghwa and jonghyun can fully experiment with their own creativity. It reminds me of their interview that said they always interested to try different style and sound, and this album able to showcase this passion,imo. In my head is one of my all time favorite songs from them, and my favorite track in this album is wake up. It’s upbeat and somehow it gives a bit of ska music vibe to me :) Come on is such a cool song with cool duo vocals! I can’t wait for their new songs, and i hope they can showcase more of their own creativity and diversity in their next korean album too.

  9. thanks for review, but the different just in no more ,, i don’t really like it … even though JH and YH compose it together, i prefer time is over because drum and bass’s sounds clear, my favorite is wake up, blue sky and these days ^^

  10. Pingback: [Review] [Mini-Album] CNBlue – ‘Re:Blue’ | McRoth's Residence

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