Before we talk about CLC, let’s talk about 2016…which hasn’t been a great year for Korea, especially for K-Pop fans who have unfortunately witnessed the break-ups of some of their favorite groups, including 2NE1 and KARA.
But 4Minute’s disbandment was arguably one of the hardest ones to cope with because they had a distinct style, if not a secret weapon. Of course, with every K-pop girl group, or any good girl group for that matter, 4Minute had their fair share of talented vocalists, but the main rapper Hyuna easily dominated the stage and for good reason. Say what you will about her being sensual with her solo career; not only could she rap, but she brought a unique flavor to every 4Minute song, a talent epitomized by their lead single from their sixth EP “Crazy.” While 4Minute’s vocalists brought emotional gravitas, Hyuna seemed to play the role of their inner madness, with the help of the lead rapper Jiyoon, and they were able to complete that delicate balance of “I may be pretty, but I’m actually crazy inside.” It was a style that was quite distinctive and helped them climb the ranks of second-generation K-pop girl groups, so it is quite possible that their agency, Cube Entertainment, decided to, for lack of better word, try the same experiment on their latest girl group CLC in order to help them stand out.
CLC is Cube Entertainment’s latest girl group formed in 2015. CLC, who debuted within the typical formula of “cute girl” for their single “Pepe” that was bound to be overshadowed, attempted to recreate the that edgy, ssen-unni (strong female) vibe that was trademark 4Minute and…it surprisingly works,to a certain extent.
Like 4Minute, CLC do have their fair share of strong vocalists, but their interplay is quite exceptional. Seungyeon’s edgier voice anchors the chorus pretty well with Ye-Eun’s menacing tone, and Elkie and Yujin’s softer delivers give more flair to the song. Of course, Sorn and Seung-Hee, as the more powerful vocalists, do well in developing the crescendo to the chorus, especially as Seung-Hee brings out a more emotional performance.
But of course, in recreating 4Minute’s style, there needs to be the Hyuna of the group: Ye-Eun. Eun-Bin isn’t that bad of a rapper, but Ye-Eun easily takes the stage with her rougher rapping, which is effective in bringing out that “pretty, yet crazy” undertone that 4Minute was a pioneer of, but it unfortunately lacks Hyuna’s darker edge and may come off as obnoxious for some listeners. However, despite the risk in taking that giant step in a different direction, perhaps it is the right one to go with.
Overall, CLC’s “Hobgoblin” is a risky track, but a memorable one, and will surely serve as a breakthrough for CLC. People may say that CLC is trying too hard to become the next 4Minute, but in the same manner that BLACKPINK has been known to be the reincarnation of 2NE1, perhaps CLC should continue 4Minute’s legacy.