CLC Escape into FREE*SM
CLC is certainly not afraid to experiment when it comes to music. As the group is still relatively new to the industry, it’s interesting to see what concept the group will strive towards. “Hobgoblin” portrayed a powerful, badass style, receiving mixed reactions from both Korean and international listeners. This time, CLC has returned with a pure and mature theme, which is a first. Though the group hasn’t found its signature style, “Where are you” may have unlocked the true potential of CLC.
The Build Up
When a group is rumored to be making a comeback in the next few months, it’s always intriguing to think of all the concepts the group could choose. Regarding CLC, the possibilities are endless. The problem CLC had this time around was the recognition of “Hobgoblin” worldwide. Korean listeners didn't like the concept, as they would prefer innocent and cute; on the other hand, international listeners couldn't get enough of this powerful and in-your-face concept. Although you can’t please everyone, CLC had to choose which market they wanted to target. As teaser photos for FREE*SM dropped, people were quick to compare the differences in concept.
It was obvious CLC decided to focus on the Korean market (a smart choice) and went for youthful charm. In the first batch of photos, the CLC members were pictured in pink dresses, enhancing their feminine beauty. The second batch revealed CLC in white dresses, looking like angels that were visiting planet Earth. What I appreciated with these photos is that they did not reveal the style of music. In plain sight, it was evident CLC wouldn't be going for a powerful concept, but it did not suggest the song would be cute. It gave off a mysterious atmosphere, which is what heightened anticipation.
Where are you?
On August 3, CLC released title track, “Where are you?” along with mini-album, FREE*SM. “Where are you?” is about jealousy taking over a relationship and not accepting the fact that people can drift apart. It experiments with denial and selfishness, unusual in a title track. Speaking from the woman’s point of view, CLC express their sadness of the ending relationship. The lyrics are honest and heartbreaking, with CLC questioning what they did wrong to make their partner drift away.
The meaningful lyrics of the song complement the girls’ vocals, bringing out their angelic voices. What I enjoyed was the line distribution, making it unpredictable who would take the lead. As the song has a slow tempo, “Where are you?” highlights the altos and sopranos of the individual members. Personally, I was impressed with Sorn’s and Yeeun’s vocal abilities. Sorn’s high notes sound flawless, proving that practice makes perfect. As with Yeeun, she is the main rapper, so hearing her sing softly was refreshing and surprising. I feel as though this song suited their voices in particular.
The music video is something out of a movie: picturesque and aesthetic. It gives off a vintage style, with the screen closed in at the sides. It mainly showcases CLC dancing to the song, but cuts to a variety of individual scenes. It is very simple and angelic, which is a brave choice considering how the group went all out with “Hobgoblin.” The music video highlights the youthful glow to CLC, portraying how innocent they can be; whether the innocence is in the relationship is hard to tell. The nighttime scenes were beautiful, as CLC stood out in white dresses sitting on a merry-go-round. It gave off the same mysterious vibe as the teaser photos did. I’m unsure if the music video had a storyline, but it still caught my gaze until it ended.
Unfortunately, CLC has started promotions with tough competition, making it difficult to chart high. Ironically, the Korean listeners are enjoying the new song, with international listeners unsure of what to think. It is certainly a change in concept, rather than an in-your-face song. “Where are you?” takes a few listens for it to grow on you, but then it will stick in your head all day. It’s a great song to relax to, as it has such a chill vibe to it. I commend CLC for changing things up once again and allowing themselves to explore different genres. Saying this, it’s hard to tell if the concept suits them, as they keep changing. I think if CLC were to mix “Pepe” and “Where are you?” it would be the perfect combination. Hopefully CLC can achieve success with this comeback from both markets and have their own time to shine.