Review

Song Review: CLC – No

If judged solely by the English-speaking corners of K-pop’s internet fandom, CLC might as well be the biggest girl group on the planet. In their four years of promotion, they’ve yet to enjoy any major milestones in Korea. However, they’ve amassed a dedicated international following eager to support the underdog. That fan base has strengthened even further since the girls’ music took a harder-edged turn. And despite fellow girl group (G)I-DLE quickly becoming Cube Entertainment’s new golden child, many are intent on seeing CLC break out from under their shadow.

Honestly, No just might do it. Cube was smart to enlist (G)I-DLE’s own Soyeon as composer, leveraging her group’s hype to raise CLC’s notoriety. The two acts are starting to blend together when it comes to sound, but there’s no reason why they can’t coexist. And though No sounds a lot like a track you’d expect from (G)I-DLE, it’s a surprisingly ballsy version.

Much of No’s instrumental is given over to a thumping electro strut, but the production is run through so many filters that it never settles on one distinct style for long. Opening with an eminently quotable spoken-language hook, No fuels itself on attitude. It’s not so much a song as it is a statement, but CLC sell the charisma. And to its credit, the track actually contains more doses of pure pop melody than expected. Its sneering chorus is a bright oasis within a sea of lurching trap skitters and jolting transitions. And the seedy synths that underline the verses recall 2012-era bad girl electro-pop in the best way. I’m not sure how well No will age in the long run, but I could get on board with CLC adopting this energy on a permanent basis.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.5

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7 thoughts on “Song Review: CLC – No

  1. Probably CLC’s best song yet imo. Right from the first teaser, I could tell that this one would be special and certainly different from the rest, but I never could’ve guessed that it would be this powerful and experimental. It’s like CLC by way of NCT 127 (particularly Simon Says). Kudos to Soyeon, she’s honestly one of the best producers out there right now. The production techniques are masterful: the verse, chorus, and various breakdowns are all very distinct parts of the song, yet they flow together so naturally. I hope she injects some of this sound and personality into (G)I-DLE’s next releases. The lyrics, in which the girls rebel against others telling them what to wear and how to act in favor of being themselves and doing things the way they want to (and by repeatedly saying “No”), are some of the best and most empowering in a Kpop song I’ve ever read, and I think they’re kind of groundbreaking. My other favorite from the mini would have to be “Show.” It too features some experimental flourishes in production while managing to be a smooth, streamlined banger.

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  2. Pingback: Top Three K-Pop Songs of January 2019 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  3. I’m genuinely surprised to see you rate this so high. For me this was a misstep for CLC. I am a big fan of Hobgoblin and to me that’s their peak (I know you hated it but for me the production was incredible and they performed it so well, I still use it as a hype/gym track all the time and even though it was pretty rap based the hooks were great).
    I like that CLC are embracing this image and sound but this song’s structure is a bit too out of left field for me. If they went for a third chorus instead of the NO refrain at the end and the dance break (or somehow meshed the chorus into it?) it would have been much better for me. I really like the first 2 minutes of the song and then it just goes bizarre for me. Normally I like messing with generic pop song structure but I just can’t get on board with this one. I think they could’ve added another 30 seconds to the song and it would be much more cohesive. There just aren’t enough hooks for me. Melodic or otherwise.
    I like CLC’s older stuff too but to me this is their weakest title track since…their second song. I like CLC a lot, as a dancer myself I love Seungyeon and Yujin as they are passionate dancers and both super talented and I look forward to seeing the dance version of this but I’m kinda disappointed.

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    • I think the bizarreness is what I like about it. I don’t see No sticking around too long on my playlist (the spoken parts are bound to grate eventually), but it hit me in a way that past CLC songs haven’t. I love the electro elements in the instrumental and the complex percussion that keeps the track surprising throughout.

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    • Seungyeon is just pure badasseryyyy. I didn’t realize I would fall for her so much. I hadn’t notice her much in the past but she’s just so…. WOW in the music video. Definitely one of the best dancers in Kpop industry.

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  4. Pingback: Buried Treasure: CLC – Show | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  5. I am usually not a CLC stan (I didn’t like Hobgoblin – it’s too 4 Minute-feel) but ‘Black Dress’ kinda changed my mind about their girl crush image.

    ‘No’ is even better because it feels more like their identity is more established. I agree about them selling ‘charisma’. Soyeon is really a talented songwriter/producer who actually understands the group as a whole.

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