Choi Yena’s “Hate Rodrigo”: Controversial Comeback or Calculated Marketing?

Choi Ye-na is back with a risky song. She’s known mononymously as Yena, former member of the popular temporary girl group Iz*One, and under Yuehua Entertainment. Yena is now a solid soloist and actress. However, her recent comeback with the song “Hate Rodrigo” has stirred up considerable controversy.

So was this a risky move or a clever marketing strategy?

“Hate Rodrigo” made headlines for its references to American singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo. The song’s lyrics cleverly weaved in elements of Olivia’s song titles, while the original music video briefly showcased photos and images of the artist. The company unpublished the music video just two days after its release. Then republished an edited version without Olivia’s images.

Her company Yuehua Entertainement released a statement on June 30, about removing and re-uploading the music video, “…some scenes may have caused issues with trademark infringement, violation of portrait rights, and copyright.” They also deny that they received any request from Olivia Rodrigo’s team to take down the music video.

To anyone who is unfamiliar with the song – it’s easy to jump to conclusions and assume this is a diss track to Rodrigo. It also doesn’t help that Yena’s promotions of her comeback included the hashtag #Hate_Rodrigo at first.

But while “Hate Rodrigo” received significant backlash, there’s no denying that it generated a colossal amount of attention. This comeback wasn’t on our radar until we saw it make news. In the age of social media and viral content, the controversy surrounding the music video and song spread like wildfire. The heated discussions on various online platforms propelled Yena into the spotlight, even beyond the borders of the K-pop fandom.

Despite the controversy, we think Yena’s “Hate Rodrigo” comeback could’ve been a calculated risk, aiming to capitalize on the momentum of Olivia Rodrigo’s popularity. Especially since Yena’s comeback was on June 27 and Olivia Rodrigo released her single “vampire” on June 30. By tapping into the American artist’s massive global following, Yuehua Entertainment could’ve been aiming to attract local and international attention. The timing of Yena’s comeback seems very intentional.

But anyone who actually watches Yena’s music video and listens to the song will quickly see that “Hate Rodrigo” wasn’t intended to incite hatred toward Olivia Rodrigo at all. Yena herself is a fan of Olivia’s work and has expressed admiration for the American artist on several occasions. This raises questions about the purpose and execution of the comeback’s concept, as it seemed too confusing and contradicting at first.

From a marketing standpoint it was a clever move. But associating a popular singer with the word ‘hate’ in 2023 is very risky. Maybe they could’ve used another word instead.

The song in itself is catchy, it has a lot of early 00’s punk pop sounds. In the music video Yena herself is a rockstar and gets help from (G)I-dle’s Yuqi who is also featured in the song.

In the ever-competitive landscape of the entertainment industry, artists often take daring steps to stand out. However, it is crucial to strike a balance between pushing boundaries and respecting fellow artists’ work and fandoms. As Yena continues her journey as a soloist, it is essential for Yuehua Entertainment to carefully consider the impact of their marketing strategies.

In the end, the success of Yena’s “Hate Rodrigo” will hinge on the public’s perception and whether the attention garnered can be transformed into long-term support and loyalty from fans worldwide.

Although we’re embarrassed to admit it, if it wasn’t for this controversy we wouldn’t have listened to the song or watched the MV. So if Yuehua Entertainment’s goal was to reach a new audience with this comeback….congratulations it worked.