Review

Song Review: CLC – Me

This January, CLC out-(G)IDLE’d (G)-IDLE with the Soyeon-composed No. That quirky, attitude-driven track seemed to spark a sonic revolution in the group, drawing upon their charisma for an ear-catching performance. New single Me (美) harnesses that same vibe, but comes across as diminished returns.

The first time through, it’s easy to compare Me to 4minute’s 2016 hit Hate. Both center around a similarly aggressive beat drop, hammering their choruses with an electronic attack that feels more noisy than creative. As exciting as Me’s energy is, it’s also a case of style over substance. Beyond all of the hard-hitting production flourishes, there’s not much of a song to be found. The verses pulse with attitude, but fade from memory as soon as they’ve passed. The main hook hinges on one under-cooked phrase, repeated without variation. This simplistic construction is at odds with the maelstrom of sound swirling around it, and gives Me an unbalanced (and ultimately unfulfilling) presence.

Within all of the song’s bombast, there are a few interesting instrumental quirks to be found. The percussion stands out, moving from intense drum fills during the chorus to more hesitant, disjointed patterns in the verses. I particularly like how the beat drop modulates to trace the girls’ vocal line during Me’s final few seconds. It’s a gratifying bow tied on an altogether messy package. But in the end, the song is just too one-note to stand out. It’s powered by one of the least engaging refrains in CLC’s arsenal, and its brash production choices will likely polarize listeners.

 Hooks 6
 Production 8
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6
 RATING 6.75

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28 thoughts on “Song Review: CLC – Me

  1. I remember you not liking “Black Dress” that much while I loved it, and I feel the same way here. “Me” is cool!

    Of course, “No” stands as one of the best songs of 2019 to date, and that’s hard feat to follow, but as far as things go – I’m glad that CLC aren’t back to their ill-conceived cute concept of a few years ago and that they’ve kept this “hardcore” empowerment-lite image. “No” was successful for me in large part because of the amount of detail in the instrumental, and “Me” somewhat measures up in that department, with all sorts of cool textural details. However, “No” also had a killer chorus melody and cool off-kilter structure, and “Me” has neither of these aspects.

    What pushes it over the line? Well, the pre-chorus is undeniably great (and even better when it’s played for the third time during the bridge), and I shockingly like the Skrillex drop because it has rough textures but doesn’t succumb to the lurching rhythms of dubstep/trap. I do wish that the vocals had taken a backseat during the repetitive “areumdaun me” bit, because there’s no harmonic or melodic movement there, which gets grating. Even *any* changing harmony in the bass line would have lifted that section way up. A good example of this is “Hellevator” by Stray Kids where the choice to include an Actual Chord Progression (surprisingly uncommon in bg swag tracks) transforms a boring one-note riff into an effective chorus. That’s not a huge gripe though, and it could be that I need to crank this on a better speaker to hear it properly!

    I think where we differ in general is that you really don’t like drop-as-chorus structures, while for me they’re not ideal but far from a deal-breaker. I enjoy pure noise, and this comes off as a kpop-goes-vaguely-metal moment more than anything else. CLC have done better than “Me” (as evidenced by them being on my favorites list almost as much as Twice in 2018), but overall? I like it.

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    • I REALLY “want” to like this song. Having CLC rise from the brink of extinction during their cutesy phase (similar to Dreamcatcher) means sometimes wanting to like the unlikable to avoid losing upward momentum. But that drop.. {grits teeth}. It’s as if the writer began with the idea of using “that” and then tried to tie a girl crush bow around it with ham-fisted success.

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    • Yeah, I’m definitely in the minority when it comes to Me. But honestly, I think I’m in the minority with CLC as a whole. I’ve never quite vibed with them, and this particular style is not at all to my taste. And you’re right… I am stick and tired of drop-style choruses. They can be done well occasionally, but I like it when they feel more organic to the song.

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  2. I think you underrate it by a bit. Below 7 means basic or basic minus kpop, and this one is at least aurally interesting.
    The main problem is that Skillrex “Hate” sound over the first part of the chorus. It is uneven in intensity with the vocal line that alternates with the bam bam bam sounds, and then the noises are also uneven with the rest of the song. It is the equivalent of having a lovely little bungalow in pastel colors, and then neon orange trim on the windows but only the windows. Get rid of the neon, and then it is still a lovely little bungalow.
    The 2nd part of the chorus with the clapping I thought was nice. Also, the song un-abashedly uses a reggae beat for the verses.
    I appreciate that this is also homegrown talent in Soyeon, and not some corporate glossy pastiche.

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    • I’ve yet to see a review on this site that scores below 5 (though I’m sure some must exist). If anything, I think the reviews are “too careful” not to step on toes. Let’s be realistic; if you were rating people on a scale from 1 to 10, there are definitely some 1 through 5’s in the world. ..a lot of them.

      I think if a song is going to dip below the 5 mark, then it simply doesn’t get reviewed here. A “if you’ve nothing good to say, then say nothing” sentiment. I love CLC and this release was.. ..meh. Their B-side “Like It” (off “No.1”) is much better than this.

      My point is, I guess, if we don’t voice hard truths when a song doesn’t meet our expectations, then we can’t expect a group to evolve in the right direction. “Me” is not the right direction for CLC. My2p.

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      • This comment was super interesting for me to read, and made me realize I really need to update the “About” page that touches on my philosophy when it comes to reviews. (It’s basically never been updated…)

        You’re right. Reviews here rarely go below the 5’s. My lowest was in the 3’s, I think. My 1-10 scale exists out of necessity (it would be weird to simply start with 5), but I mostly ignore the bottom few ratings. As apathetic as I can be about some of the industry’s current trends, I’m a K-pop fanatic at heart. Even the most “meh” K-pop releases are better executed than so many Western tracks, in my opinion. Now, if I was rating certain songs coming out of the States these days, I would definitely be firing off those 1’s and 2’s with regularity!

        And yeah, if a song is bad enough to score that low, I usually just don’t cover it here. The exception would be if it’s also high-profile enough that ignoring it would seem unavoidable. But the thing is, comebacks that are that high profile have usually been polished and perfected to a point where, even if they’re not my cup of tea, I can’t objectively trash them. As far as crappy lower-profile tracks go… it’s just not worth it. It takes a lot of time and effort to write and edit reviews for this site. I don’t really want to waste that on something I hate.

        You’ve also probably noticed that I have yet to award a “10” rating to a newly released track. I just don’t think a song can be a perfect ten on its first day, or even first week. It takes time to grow into that. Someday, I’ll have to write a feature of songs released since the start of The Bias List that I would now consider 10’s.

        Anyways… super long reply to a comment that wasn’t really asking me any questions. Haha! Take it as an early draft of what will become an updated “About” page sometime in the future. Maybe.

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          • Maybe some time in the summer, when I’ve got more time and energy (these last few weeks before summer break in an elementary school are killer)

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        • There is a tinge of “apology” in your explanation that is completely unnecessary. This is a “your site/your rules” world we live in. I actually like your methods so keep fighting the good fight.

          If I don’t see a song reviewed then I can take that as: “It’s bad”, “It’s not relevant”, or it’s been shuffled to the bottom of the “Some day…” pile; which is fine with me.

          If I see a song reviewed higher than I’d expect, then I can attribute that to personal tastes. I don’t get offended if others don’t think exactly like me.. ..because I wouldn’t interact with anyone that is exactly like me.

          Nope. I like your system. It’s simple and fair:
          “579-10” Well, that’s going to be very tricky, isn’t it?

          Once you cross the threshold of perfection, you really are talking more about your personal likes than with every other review. The concept of a song being a “10” is visceral. It’s personal. It’s reflective of the individual that’s scoring it. This “10”.. ..spoke to you, specifically, in ways all of the other songs couldn’t. It’ll be interesting to see which songs spoke to you.

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          • Wow.. ..HTML coding ruins another of my posts. The “Nope. I like your system” part was completely hosed. I reformatted the rest of my reply as follows:

            Nope. I like your system. It’s simple and fair:
            Less than 5 = why bother.
            Greater than 5, less than 7 = Well, it exists, so there’s that.
            Greater than 7, less than 9 = Playlist worthy.
            Greater than 9, up to 10 = Well, that’s going to be very tricky, isn’t it?

            Once you cross the threshold of perfection, you really are talking more about your personal likes than with every other review. The concept of a song being a “10” is visceral. It’s personal. It’s reflective of the individual that’s scoring it. This “10”.. ..spoke to you in ways all of the other songs couldn’t. It’ll be interesting to see which songs spoke to you.

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            • You pretty much nailed it! It’s worth noting, though, that I’m very stingy with my 9+ ratings, so songs with an “8.75” are kind of in a category of their own, with many bumping up to a “9” as time goes on.

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        • “Now, if I was rating certain songs coming out of the States these days, I would definitely be firing off those 1’s and 2’s with regularity!”

          I remember a time when I complained about how American pop was copy-pasting itself. Nowadays even the most basic of American pop songs is at least listenable to me, when compared to the mumble-“rap” my high school is obsessed with. If I could rate ‘Production’ as 0 for 90% of those, I would. I’m so glad I quit the American music scene before the Trash Trap Takeover. (Kpop trap, even if it is an overused trope that I want to see kicked out of second verses, is still ten times better.)

          I would love to see an American song you would rate a 1. I remember you liked Cat and Dog, so how strongly do you object to mumble rap? (I definitely have a gigantic bias against it, thanks to its prevalence in my school’s events.)

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          • Funny you should mention this, because I’ve been working on editing the music for my school’s talent show this week and there are these two “songs” that just sound like pure garbage to me. I don’t know how popular these are/were beyond youtube views, because I really haven’t followed much American music in the past four years, but each would be the lucky recipient of a “1” (or worse)


            And yeah… not a fan of mumble rap. TXT is an exception because I think the guys are just such irresistible performers and the song is so stupid that it’s actually kind of great.

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      • I believe in this thread we have successfully defined “song gets mixed reviews”.

        I will add one more comment that just as there is bias that over-rates a song (in other people’s opinions), there also exists bias which can under-rate songs (in other people’s opinions). And then there is the bias of review selection or omission. For example for me, recent groups that have a lot of stans and I just do see it, I may not comment on – I just scroll on by. Or for Nick, how he will probably never review another Kyuhyun (my bias) solo song again.

        At least Nick uses the full sub-scale from about 5.5 to about 9.5. On the public grading scales, usually 1 to 5, if the restaurant or movie you are going to isn’t at least an average of 4, it is horrible. the scale is almost binary – above 4 or below 4. Because no one fills out a review for a 2 or 3 stars, all the statistics are skewed. 1 star was something horrible about how the manager treated them. 5 stars, plus something about how the meal was memorable for something other than the food (the sunset was pretty!). 4 stars when it is pretty good.

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        • I’ve only started posting comments/replies a day ago. I’ve been coming here for a long while, but I didn’t want to create yet another social account just to make posts, but.. ..I caved.

          I guess I keep coming here because I like Nick’s review methods. I think he stays as impartial and objective as he can. His 5-9 review system makes sense to me. He covers a quasi-relevant spectrum of the industry that I identify with. He does a good job referencing the past works of a group being reviewed to provide counterweight to their current effort. And, most importantly, he’s not a douche-nozzle like some other sites out there that review K-pop music. ’nuff said on that.

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        • You don’t know how much I agonize over every little 0.25! Over time, even the smallest changes in my ratings have developed a specific meaning for me. (Crazy as that may be)

          And never say never when it comes to Kyuhyun. I love the guy, but his pre and post enlistment ballads have been very boring (in my opinion). I hope I get a chance to write about non-ballad material from him sometime.

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  3. I feel like this song is made for their girl-crush performance. And yes, the rating is a bit too harsh. It’s not that bad, I mean, at least it’s not tropical house and that forgettable. Lol.

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  4. Kind of unrelated, but I always enjoy the comment sections on your posts and this one is a prime example of what I’m talking about. People expressing their genuine opinions, but with solid reasoning backed in music knowledge, and flavored with a sprinkle of snark – this is the kpop community I love! The copy-paste field of bias-hyping we always get in Youtube comment sections is to be expected, but of course it gets unbelievably tiring. Every time I see another “x-group did that, y’all” I retreat to this website. I love reading your reviews and I love reading the comment section. Keep it up, man.

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    • Yes, yes, yes! I love the comments this site gets. I wish there were even more, but I’m so happy to provide a place where people can geek out about K-pop in a genuine and thoughtful way. Time constraints mean that I’m not always able to respond as quickly as I’d like, but I read everything and I’m glad that others do, too!

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  5. After the last song, the released which I wasn’t a fan of the group comes back with a banger. This time the group goes into the EDM/trap genre for the new single. The production on the song goes hard making it something worth listening too. The vocals on this song are way better than their track now, and the drop after the chorus fits the song perfectly getting me excited. The rapping on the song flowed well with the production being one of my favorite sections of the song as it was terrific. Near the end of the song, the electronic production does this cool thing where it plays the melody of the song fitting well with the vocals closing out the song well.

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  6. Pingback: CLC (씨엘씨) – ME (美): (MV Review) – TweetNewscaster

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