CLC Members are Unapologetically Themselves With “No.1”
If you went around asking the K-Pop community who the most underrated artists were, CLC would probably top that list. Having adorned many styles and sounds, it was clear with “Hobgoblin” that they had found their distinct style. This was only further solidified with “Black Dress,” and it's almost like through this album they’ve decided to explore and play around with this style a bit more.
After a year-long break post “Black Dress,” the group is finally back with their powerful album No.1. The album title written as “No.1,” but pronounced “no one,” expresses the group’s statement that essentially they are their unique selves and no one can replace them.
CLC Say No to Being Basic
The title track “No,” co-composed by labelmate and a close friend to CLC, (G)I-DLE’s Soyeon, is a strong track that basically kicks off the vibe of the whole album. The song starts off with Seungyeon fiercely going through materialistic items like red lips, earrings, high heels, and handbags, punctuating each with a bold NO. The thumping bass line then begins to sneak in, giving the song a very “Vogue” esque aura. The tuned down instrumentals, only truly making an appearance during the chorus, allow the vocals and lyrics to stand out, giving the track its unique appeal. Apart from the bass, the lyrics are what truly allow the song to shine. While exuding unapologetic confidence, the track can also be seen as a clap back towards haters and the industry in general for trying to pin girl groups under one particular style. The “I love me” chorus along with the phrased interludes refer to how a woman doesn’t need a multitude of accessories to become more beautiful—their own identity is all they need to shine.
The music video works perfectly with the track and the vibe the lyrics express. During Seungyeon’s intro, we see the other girls posed within glass boxes around her, a reference to not just idols, but women in general, being set on an unrealistic pedestal. The sleek black set interrupted by neon lights visually represents the aura of the song with the contrast between the fierce raps and interludes and the pure pop vibe of the chorus. Much like the lyrics, the music video also carries the same “I don’t care, I’ll do me” attitude, particularly in the scene where the members have a funeral for the mentioned fashion accessories. Sorn’s moment of standing in front of CLC’s name written in Thai against the lyrics of “I don’t change myself for you” in the background comes in a good time amidst racist comments against non-Korean K-Pop stars.
While “No” does make a bigger impact, their next song “Show” also has the makings of a really good title track. The chorus and haunting rhythm work well in making this track addictive. It gives each member a chance to stand out with her vocals, and their different tones contrast and create a right amount of harmony. There are just the right amount of twists to prevent the song from being too predictable, like the spoken phrase from Eunbin and the abrasive, very CLC like breakdown.
As a sucker for R&B, “Breakdown” was a pleasant surprise within the album, and much like its title it works perfectly in serving as a breakdown. A classic breakup track, “Breakdown” is where we truly are able to listen to the group’s deeper registers and vocal abilities. The flow of the song is also quite soothing, with little bits that play around with the flow.
With a killer hook, “Like It” is like the grown-up, more hardcore version of “I like it.” A track about liking the feeling of the initial moments of a crush growing into something more, with a dirty synth track and soft vocals, this song makes for a perfect club song.
With K-Pop becoming so much more international, artists are now catering much more towards international fans and charts. With tracks “Hobgoblin” and “Black Dress” making it to Billboard, it only makes sense for CLC to appeal globally as well—hence the track “I Need U.” A pleasant surprise on the album, “I Need U” is sung entirely in English, including the rap. Yeah, they did that. The nostalgic EDM instrumental of the track, very reminiscent of the early 2000s, is a perfect exhibit of how to naturally integrate an English song in an album. The “my heart says po-po-pow” lyric is addictive and refreshing, particularly when Sorn uses it as a high note.
The amount of work and effort gone into this album is very apparent, and all of the member’s different vocals get a chance to shine through. The rap does not feel forced and manages to blend well and add to the songs. CLC was also able to experiment a bit more within their own “brand,” truly showing their expertise as artists. Fans were also able to get a look at the member’s deeper registers, something they haven’t accessed since their “Pepe” release. As someone who loved their “Pepe” comeback, I felt a lot of their following tracks did not manage to create as much of a lasting impression. A lot of this was because it felt like none of the tracks really expressed CLC as an artist and who they really are. Through this album, they were really able to achieve that, and the self confidence is off the charts. So if you too, like me, haven’t been able to get a grasp of their music, this album is definitely a good start. Or if you just feel like listening to a truly empowering breakup album, No.1 definitely takes the crown for that.