CNU/Sandeul – Oblique Line

This is a ‘smoky jazz club at 3:00 am’ sort of song, haunting and beautiful.

Written by CNU (pronounced Shin-woo), who gave it to Sandeul for his solo album when he asked nicely (see what politeness gets you, kids?). CNU then released a cover video on his 30th birthday this year.

CNU – Oblique Line

Which to watch?

  • If you want a great live performance, watch Sandeul – not exactly a smoky jazz club, but close.
  • If you want an MV from the songwriter, watch CNU. It’s strictly noir, and quite bleak, with repeated motifs of being caged, hinting at mistakes that can’t be walked back.
  • The best vocal performance? That’s a tough one. Both men are strong and versatile singers, but Sandeul is generally acknowledged in the biz as an exceptionally good vocalist. Sandeul has a beautifully clear voice like liquid silver, but CNU has a heartbreaking high falsetto that could make Thom Yorke from Radiohead throw down his mic and take up crochet. Either one could easily convince me to give up both kidneys and most of my liver if they put the request in song.

It’s interesting to hear both versions – both men have great voices, and the song was written specifically for them. Repeated listening to CNU’s version can even give clues as to which parts were intended for each of B1A4’s 3 vocalists (or perhaps I have a vivid imagination and no life).

Probably only a fan or a purist would be able to find much difference between the versions, or even care.  There are differences, though, however minor – there’s a section where CNU sounds eerily like the very breathy Yesung of Super Junior, and there are differences in the vocal embroidery near the end.

CNU is a master of deep, meaningful, and occasionally obscure lyrics, and this is one of his best in that respect. Whether it’s due to difficulties in translation, or his use of poetic imagery, is immaterial, but enough meaning seeps through to parallel the aching sadness of the music, which is inescapable from the first notes.

Lyrics as usual in Hangul, Romanisation, and English translation.

Addendum: I was going to add that I could imagine this song in the voice of Nina Simone – probably a reflection of B1A4’s drift into the jazz/blues/soul section of the R&B space, which I consider to be A Good Thing (TM). Then I realised that this song reminded me a little of Nina Simone singing Feeling Good – maybe see above for vivid imagination and no life…?

Sandeul – Oblique Line
Oblique Line – Lyrics
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