Track: Illa Illa | Artist: Juniel | Album: My First June

Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.  

It’s a bit late for a spring-themed acoustic track, but what the hell, it’s a good song. And good songs are always in season.

When Juniel debuted in 2011 under FNC Entertainment, the same company behind the rock bands CNBLUE and FT ISLAND, the agency made a big push touting her as the “next IU”, going off their similar vocal qualities and a parallel acoustic-summery aesthetic.

Despite her impressive vocal chops, Juniel hasn’t yet managed to rise into the A-list ranks, partly because of the unintended consequences from this initial marketing as an IU copycat; the problem with comparing yourself to one of Korea’s most popular singers is that you have to deal with the unintended consequences, including being regarded forever as a knockoff.

Juniel’s also notable for officially debuting in Japan first before her Korean debut, which happened a year later in 2012 (with this album, incidentally). This wasn’t entirely unprecedented, especially given her company, which also pulled a somewhat similar stunt with CNBLUE a few years prior. FNC has a spotty history regarding idol management, but we’ll discuss that more in a future column. (If you’ve been paying attention so far, you’ll know that I’m... not the most charitable towards K-Pop agencies.)