Song Reviews

Published on May 31st, 2015 | by Scott Interrante


CLC Tries To Get Us To ‘Like’ Them On New Single

Cube Entertainment’s five-member girl group CLC (short for Crystal Clear somehow), returns with a new mini-album ‘Question.The title track is called ‘Like,’ which seems appropriate for what they’re trying to do here. The group debuted in March of 2015 and Cube has already put out two mini-albums and a digital single for CLC, seemingly pretty desperate to have something catch on. The problem is that their first title track, ‘Pepe,’ was their strongest. But because it failed to be commercially successful in Korea, CLC has been pushed to reinvent themselves to find a style that will work for them.

It’s not uncommon for a rookie group to try out different sounds and styles after their debut while they find what works best for them, but CLC has been frustrating because their debut was so strong, full of personality, confidence, and stellar music. ‘Pepe’ and the other songs on ‘First Love’ took up a retro sound with jazzy horns and soulful vocals. It’s the kind of sound we’ve seen from many female groups (Mamamoo’s recent ‘Ahh Oop!,’ 15&’s ‘Sugar,’ SPICA’s ‘You Don’t Love Me’), but it’s also expertly executed.

Domestically, though, it didn’t make much of a splash. ‘Pepe’ failed to even make its way onto the Gaon chart. Seemingly in reaction to the tepid response, Cube rushed out a digital single, ‘Eighteen,’ with a brand new sound. That Cube continued to push CLC at all after their flop shows that they believe in the group, which is nice, but ‘Eighteen’ took them in an entirely new direction. It replaced the retro soul with sexy electro-pop. And while, CLC sounds great in the new sound, it was disappointing to see Cube push them into a drastically different style.

But, of course, ‘Eighteen’ wasn’t any more successful than ‘Pepe.’ So Cube is now trying once again to reinvent CLC. On ‘Question,’ the girls find a more balanced sound. It’s synth-heavy but quirky and fun. The title track, ‘Like,’ has a lot in common sonically with Sunny Hill’s ‘Monday Blues.’ It’s catchy, exciting, and shows off all five members’ skills. But the biggest disappointment is that they brash confidence of ‘Pepe’ is replaced by aegyo innocence. In ‘Pepe,’ the girls were in control. The very first lyric finds Seungyeon asking impatiently, ‘What can you give me?’ They sling insults like ‘You’ll always be like a child’ and ‘You’re a tree that can’t grow.’ But for ‘Like,’ the girls have fallen back into typically submissive rolls. Instead of making demands, Seungyeon now sings ‘My heart pounds just by looking at your profile picture.’ The demure, lovelorn female is not an uncommon trope in k-pop, but following the powerful stance of their earlier song, it feels unfortunate.

In the music video, Seungyeon is found by her friends passed out in a brightly colored alleyway. After they take her home and wake her up, she describes what happened: she saw a gorgeous guy and fainted. They get in cute costumes and track him down, sneak into his apartment, and look through all of his stuff. They hear him coming and they run into an apartment across the hall (people really should lock their doors more often). Seungyeon peeks out of the door as he’s going into his apartment and he politely waves. She, of course, faints again.

It’s a cute video and the song is memorable, well-written, and tons of fun. Hopefully it will get Korean fans to finally take notice of the talented group, even if it would have been better for them to get on board for their ‘First Love’ mini-album. CLC is definitely a group with a lot of potential – it’s really a pity that Cube’s intended fanfare for the group fell flat. I’d say they’ve still got a shot to make it big though, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for these girls.

What do you guys think about CLC’s debut and their different styles? Let us know in the comments below!

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About the Author

I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Musicology where my research focuses on contemporary pop music and gender. Outside of academia, I’m obsessed with K-pop, binging on tv shows, and cats. My writing can also be found on PopMatters, and Short and Sweet NYC.

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