HYBE subsidiary label ADOR issued a lengthy statement on Saturday refuting accusations of inappropriate lyrics in girl group NewJeans’ “Cookie.”
With the girl group’s members being between the international ages of 14 and 18 – minors under Korean law – “Cookie” garnered backlash for its lyrics that, when translated to English, include verses such as “Made a little cookie, baked it just for you but you know that it ain’t for free, made a little cookie, it’s too soft, can’t stop thinking about it,” “That’s how you like it, ain’t that right?, no dinner, dinner, you’re hungry though, no water, water, you’re thirsty though” and “Looking at my cookie, do you ever smell it different? Taste it, what’s with a bite, isn’t enough?”
Netizens and critics have pointed out that the word “cookie” is sometimes used as slang for genitalia among English speakers.
Before the song’s release, the five-member group went on TikTok to explain that “Cookie” is meant to be a song for fans.
“‘Cookie’ is a fan song we made for you all. … We wanted to find a cute way to show how much we appreciate our fans,” they say in their TikTok video.
ADOR echoed this sentiment in a recent statement, saying, “We released ‘Cookie’ last because, as the girls explained in a video beforehand, the song was made specially for all the fans who were waiting patiently for NewJeans to debut and because it shows how much confidence we have in the musical direction the group is taking.”
“The song revolves around the paired idea of burning CDs and baking cookies, which share the same conceptual verb in Korean,” ADOR added. “Lyrically, dinner and water are synonymous with staple foods and, in the context of our song, represent just going through the motions. When you reach for dessert instead, you’re looking for something more exciting than an everyday meal that goes beyond merely filling you up and tastes great, too.”
The label gave an in-depth breakdown of their perspective on the song and NewJeans’ EP as a whole, stating, “The underlying message of the song is the value of NewJeans’ attempt to make new and original music. That’s why, even though we produce NewJeans’ music and all the related content for everyone to enjoy, it ‘ain’t for free’ and can only be found at our place, ADOR…”
“The ADOR team didn’t take any issue with the lyrics to ‘Cookie’ when we were making the album because our vision for original and wholesome music was crystal clear to us,” they added. “Slang terms aren’t taught in school and not everyone is familiar with them. It’s impossible for people to be familiar with every idiom and offensive term out there and predicting their reception around the world is an even more challenging task.”
Additionally, ADOR claimed that they “consulted with English professors, professional interpreters, translators and native speakers” who all concluded that an offensive interpretation would be uncommon, but “that any listener could take the word [cookie] to mean something different depending on their personal experience and exposure to certain slang meanings.” ADOR noted that after conducting research, they found that words such as “cake,” “biscuit,” “strawberry” and “melon” also have “wildly different and unexpected meanings.”
While several listeners have purportedly speculated that “Cookie” was written by a man, ADOR claimed in their statement that the track was written by two native English speakers: a Korean woman and a Swedish woman who are both in their 30s. They also addressed the growing outrage over the group members’ ages, pointing out that other girl and boy group have debuted with members of similar ages. For instance, Leeseo of girl group IVE, Jongseob of boy group P1Harmony, Jian of girl group Lightsum and Niki of boy group Enhypen all debuted at the age of 14.
ADOR concluded their statement by saying that “context is key” and that it is “heartbreaking” to be accused of “scheming something or having a “hidden agenda.”
“We think that’s a weak argument because we don’t stand to gain anything good from it,” they declared. “It’s necessary to ask who benefits from the growing accusation about our label having an underhanded motive. The members of NewJeans sing, ‘Attention is what I want,’ but this is in no way the kind of attention that the group, nor ADOR, nor even their adoring fans, are after, and these unfounded rumors have really taken their toll on everyone involved with the project.”