As CLC returns with their second title track of 2016, I’m realizing that they just may not be the girl group for me. Pepe was such a strong debut last year, but ever since then they’ve limped back to the kpop scene without a clear identity or purpose. Coming from a large company like Cube, this really shouldn’t be the case.
To be clear, No Oh Oh (아니야) is not a bad song. It’s heads and tails better than the disappointing High Heels from February. But, it follows the trend of most of their material by having no unique or interesting attributes of its own. In the oversaturated market that kpop has become, a catchy chorus is just not enough to launch a rookie group. And actually, in No Oh Oh‘s case, the chorus isn’t even the catchiest part. That honor goes to the oft-repeated “Ani ani aniya (아니아니아니야)” refrain in the verses. The actual chorus feels like a slightly deflated retread of EXID’s Up & Down and Ah Yeah. This similarity is expected, given that No Oh Oh is also a Shinsadong Tiger composition. Shinsadong is one of kpop’s best producers, but every producer has their a-list material… and their b-list. This is clearly b-list. It’s mildly effective, but not punchy enough to truly stand out.
And that brings us back to the true problem: standing out. Even with new members, CLC just hasn’t done that yet. Everything about No Oh Oh is competent, from the bombastic brass instrumental touches to the climactic high note, but it doesn’t feel exciting or new. I still don’t know who CLC are, besides a copy of other groups. I want to like them, but even if the songs are fun, there’s nothing that brings me back or makes me want to hear more.