4Minute‘s replacement group, CLC, has returned to us with a completely new image thanks the assistance of HyunA on “Hobgolbin“.
This is one of the most hilariously shameless comeback concepts I’ve ever seen, as CLC do a 180 in order to essentially directly replace 4Minute. Thing is … it’s not the worst idea? Aside from “Pepe“, I hated their previous efforts (1/2/3/4), but becoming imitation 4Minute is a lot better than the path Cube Entertainment was sending them down before.
More to the point, if you just evaluate this release as a standalone it’s quite enjoyable. With a thumping bassline and synths interlaced, the foundation is rock solid, and the hook working off a ‘nawara wara’ base being repeated over and over ended up being quite the earworm.
The problem then, it’s that it’s hard not to see them visually as cosplaying as 4Minute…
…or even 2NE1.
But those aren’t exactly bad groups to take cues from, and their visuals are certainly there with members like Elkie…
…and I think Sorn in particular fits this concept much better than she did the others.
Plus, there’s their rapper, who I’m going to need you guys to name for me.
Speaking of which, she basically becomes HyunA, with the high-pitched tone and all. She doesn’t quite pull it off quite as well in terms of overall package but it’s a close enough facsimile.
That also segues well into my main problem with “Hobgoblin”, as all of CLC’s vocalists are still geared towards the more cutesy, peppy tracks, and they really lack somebody with a lower register to deliver the force necessary on a track like this. That said, the actual attitude and conviction projected by everybody involved was surprising for newcomers to this image, and definitely helped compensate.
Truth be told, I came into “Hobgoblin” expecting material I could mock, but came away seeing and hearing another girl group that were able to pull off the more fierce concept effectively. The song was surprisingly catchy and the replayability has been great so far, but the main obstacle that they face is perception. That’s shown by the reactions of both Korean and international netizens who can’t get over the concept switch, because if this were a rookie group from a major company I guarantee the reactions would be a lot different to this. Hell, BLACKPINK are basically YG Entertainment‘s shameless 2NE1 replacement and people enjoy what they’re doing (as do I).
So while I understand that first impressions mean a lot, I also believe if people give CLC a legitimate clean slate they’ll find this an impressive re-debut of sorts. They deserve credit for pulling this off as well as could be expected under the circumstances, and I came away from “Hobgoblin” surprisingly enthusiastic about CLC’s future.
Or even if you hated it, at the very least it gave us this screencap.