It seems as if I've been waiting 10 summers for Cube Entertainment to get their shit together and let CLC out of the Cube dungeon. But in retrospect, the wait wasn't THAT long. The last time CLC released music was in February of 2018 with their title song Black Dress and I've waited longer for new tunes from American bands. The sad part about the saturated K-pop market is that fans or consumers can forget about groups if they aren't releasing music on a consistent basis.
Since the long wait for more CLC is over and my expectations are high, I wanted to record my thoughts before the release of CLC's 8th mini album No.1, specifically their title track No, as well as after.
It was when the teasers started dropping on YouTube that I became aware of CLC's comeback. They released teasers for each member, the first being Yujin's. I was shocked by the teaser's chic and sassy tone. The ambiance of the teasers reminded me a lot of Black Dress, so does that make this comeback Black Dress Pt. 2?
Another strong feature of the music video teasers were the colors. In these images of Yujin and Eunbin alone, there's purples, red, oranges, and blues. I love the punchy vibrancy of it all! In these current times, it appears that music videos with extremely colorful and eye-catching pallets tend to receive more viewership. Colors usually = aesthetically pleasing content. So I'm hoping that the music video itself will draw in more views for CLC.
From what I've been able to grasp, CLC's No seems to be about saying no to society's standards of beauty and embracing who you are and want to be. In Elkie's teaser, she even sang, "I love me. I like it." I'm super excited to see the full extent of this comeback's empowering concept.
There's also much to look forward to in the other tracks on CLC's 8th mini album. In the highlight medley I found myself drawn to Show and Breakdown (that brief glimpse of Show was so catchy, it's been stuck in my head ever since my first listen).
For some reason, the music is also giving me Lady Gaga vibes. I'm not sure if it's from all of the synth work in the song but this comeback has a certain art pop flavor that I feel Mama Monster would appreciate.
Overall, CLC's pre-promotional period for their 2019 comeback is looking very promising. All of the members look sassy, chic, and classy and I can only hope No is received well.
While I previously compared the feel of this song to Lady Gaga and CLC's Black Dress, in retrospect, this song feels very original. Its sound has a fresh ring. I'm no expert with music genres but there seemed to be a slight retro, disco flavor in No. The song also keeps the interest of the listener by straying from repetitive pop structures. One way No mixes things up is with the usage of silence.
Moments of Silence
One way in which the song was able to keep you interested and veer from repetition was by having these moments of silence during the hook, "Red lip? No. Earrings? No. High heels? No. Handbag? No." The song even retains a circular structure by having this instrumental silence at the beginning of the song and then in the bridge, adding intensity to the song's effect.
Not only was CLC's title track a hit that I'm chronically playing but each of the tracks on their mini album can stand on their own as a title track. They're all super catchy that without having listened to the songs too many times, I can at least sing from memory a good 30 seconds of each song. And they took me by surprise with their track I Need U which is perfectly sung in all English.
The live performances began so quickly for CLC this comeback and they've been knocking it out of the park. You got to see a lot of Sorn and Elkie even in the B-side live performances of Like It and Show. They're all flawlessly dancing in high heels–which I can't relate to but absolutely commend. I loved the subtle choreography for No's hook. When they mention earrings, their hands do this purposeful fan gesture around their heads. Then when the bridge (that includes slow, dramatic runway walks, what else could you ask for?) and the dance break hit so do the chills and goosebumps. There were actually many dance breaks in this CLC comeback like at the beginning of Show, for instance. And each dance break has been conducted with so much stage presence, it's as if all of their songs were born to be performed on stage.
In this 2019 comeback, Seungyeon really shined. She often took center stage in the dance formation and made me shake in my boots from the sheer intensity in her expressions and her precise control over her body's every movement. For me, she was a standout in this comeback and her voice was really well suited for the lines in No's hook.
Full Force Promotion
After No's release I'm going to commend Cube Entertainment for the way they've been promoting the song. There were teaser videos for each individual member, allowing each member to shine and reminding the audience of what to come. Immediately following No's release, live performances of No as well as CLC's B-sides Like It and Show were on YouTube. CLC and Cube Entertainment are not being quiet about this comeback at all.
Ever since the whole situation with Hyuna and Edawn leaving Cube Entertainment thus leading to the end of Triple H (insert ugly cry face here) and Edawn's leave from Pentagon, I've been on the outs with Cube Entertainment. However, they deserve a pat on the back for the handling of CLC's comeback. Hopefully this momentum continues for the rest of the promotional period.
Imagery & Lyrics
I appreciate the entire spirit of this comeback. The lyrics scream strength, confidence, and boldness with lines like "Forget ways to look more 'beautiful'/ Screw how you feel, so 'I' can look more like 'me.'" Another important tidbit, Soyeon from (G)-Idle arranged the song and wrote lyrics alongside Yeeun for No. You can sense Soyeon's signature and it's always great to see artists from different groups working together.
While music can be interpreted in many ways, for me, No is about forgoing pressures, stigmas, and social standards set by others and confidently being who you want to be. It's about breaking out of a forced one-dimensional image–as people are rarely one-note. This is evident in the quick shot of CLC closing a coffin, trapping handbags, high heels, and clothing inside. It's like they are laying costumes or shells of people they were told to be to rest. They're telling anyone who hears this song that they're not afraid to be themselves, embrace every aspect of their character, dress as they like, express themselves as they like and they'll love themselves while doing it. And that's a message I can get behind.
So far, CLC's 2019 comeback has been extremely exciting. They came back with a lot of force and power and after waiting so long for new music from CLC, I'm now a well fed Cheshire. The bar was set really high with No and I hope they get more recognition and music show wins with this release. It would be a long time coming.
Make sure to visit the On Repeat page for the On Repeat playlist which will include songs from CLC's new mini album No.1. Want to support CLC? Vote for their new release on websites and apps like M Countdown and IdolChamp, buy their new album No.1, and stream No's music video and live performances. Comment below with your thoughts on CLC's title track No and their 8th mini album No.1. I'd love to hear your thoughts!