Song Review: CLC – Devil

Over the course of their four-year career, CLC have run the gamut of sounds and concepts. Recently, they’ve settled on an edgy, attitude-laced style that’s brought them international attention. But back in March of 2015, the girls debuted with the bright, addictive Pepe. Though that song is rarely mentioned in the CLC conversation nowadays, it remains one of my favorite tracks by the group.

Devil brings the girls back to similar melodic territory. The song itself is rather slight, but stands out thanks to its musical palette. Rather than borrow from 2019’s over-used elements, the track deposits CLC in retro territory, drawing from 50’s sounds like doo-wop and surf rock. The bass guitar that opens Devil lingers for practically the entire song, joined by hand claps and jangly synth. It’s an exciting brew — not because we’ve never heard it before, but because we haven’t heard it in awhile. Apart from the expected post-chorus trap breakdown, Devil rarely strays from its indelible groove. That kind of musical continuity is very welcome.

Even better, Devil hinges on a classic pop melody. Rap is relegated to that aforementioned trap breakdown, leaving plenty of space for the song to breathe. The sly pre-chorus is a nice surprise, building momentum without resorting to the kind of EDM tricks we’ve grown so accustomed to. This leads nicely into the strong chorus, which utilizes a brisk structure that draws on harmony to drive its swirling, instantly catchy hook. The girls sound great, and manage to harness their trademark sass within a lighter aesthetic. A Red Velvet-esque bridge amps things up a bit, though the song deserves a more memorable climax. If anything, Devil is too brief and too pleasant. A more ambitious touch would have pushed it up to “instant classic” territory. But even as is, CLC have delivered an irresistible pop confection.

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9

Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!


16 thoughts on “Song Review: CLC – Devil

  1. My god, I really really love this song! It’s so refreshing to hear a new k-pop song that can stand on its own without requiring a huge array of production gimmicks (looking at you Red Velvet). Please please please, let this become a trend….


    • First, yeah I like this one a lot better than CLC’s previous releases this year.
      Second, Ur… Yeah, you’re right, “that song” you’re referring to is probably the worse side of Andreas Oberg


  2. Really have to agree with you on the “more memorable climax” part. Watching the MV, the visual aesthetic and feeling switched up to something darker and more intense near the end, but meanwhile the song stayed pretty much the same. If the production had followed suit and introduced a few more elements into the mix/gotten more dramatic it would’ve ended much stronger for sure.

    Still a fun track though!! I hope the fanbase they’ve garnered from their edgier, crushier sound supports this too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Whenever a track with a cool retro bass-line like this comes on, I always brace for the melodies to be super lazily written, but this song steadfastly refused to suck. I was waiting the whole time for it to start sucking, but then it just… didn’t. I might just have a bad memory, but I’m quite amazed precisely because k-pop gets this sound wrong a lot.

    Even the obligatory half-time trap rap break isn’t half-time – truly stupefying! (not that I like the trap break; but “a tempo” trap is better than half-time trap in 999999999/1000000000 cases).
    My only nitpick is that the bridge could have used some harmonic movement in the instrumental instead of the dull pedal point guitar we get instead.

    Overall, though? Really good song on first impressions. Thank god for CLC releasing mostly gold since 2018, because I was about ready to give up on 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmm.. ..I feel like the red-headed stepchild in the room. I’m a big fan of CLC and I think the song is decent, but I’m having trouble connecting the two together.

    When I first watched the MV, it reminded me of other videos by: Red Velvet (Russian Roulette), (G)I-DLE (Senorita), LADIES’ CODE (I Hate You), Hyoyeon (Wannabe). The song, itself, is heavily western influenced to the point of having zero relational connection to K-Pop. While I know K-Pop is an amalgamate of many other styles, this particular song seems to have completely left the K-Pop part in the dust; which to me is jarring. I’m somewhat surprised that you (Nick) rated this as high as you did, given your recent issue with K-Pop becoming too Americanized. As far as everyone else, you say tomato, I say tomato.. ..umm, hmm.

    In the end, I’m still a big CLC fan. This song “might” make it’s way into my playlist if it grows on me, but given that it is a single and doesn’t come packaged with other songs that seems unlikely.


    • I completely get what you’re saying about this not feeling like K-pop. That’s a valid critique. Here’s the two reasons that might make it easier to understand why I rated Devil as I did:

      1. When I complain about K-pop becoming too Americanized (which seems to be every other day), I’m really complaining about it becoming too much like current (ie: 2015 and up) American pop. Devil definitely sounds westernized, but in a different way than today’s trends. It hearkens back to an earlier era of American pop, which I appreciate. I wish actual American-made music would do the same!

      2. I’m not as enamored with CLC’s discography as most seem to be, so my expectations are probably different than yours. I could definitely see how fans of the group’s past few singles wouldn’t be so keen on this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • To start, thanks for taking the time to reply. Regarding your first reason, okay. Now I understand what your issue with K-Pop > Western music was. I should have figured it was directed to a special time period given your favorable reviews of K-Pop songs that represented “other” time periods (e.g., disco, 90’s boy bands, etc.).

        Regarding your second reason, While I am a big CLC fan, I don’t like everything they’ve released either. However, I’m not stuck on the idea that they need to only follow the example they’ve set with the past few “girl crush” songs. I became a fan with “Pepe”, their incredible first release. I also like “Distance”. However, they have released a few title songs (e.g., “High Heels”, “No Oh Oh”) that left me.. ..meh.

        I’m not opposed to groups mixing up concepts. My earliest years of listening to music involved a lot of 70’s Rock. One of my favorite performers is David Bowie. You want to talk about someone that went “day versus night” with every new album, then there’s your high bar.

        In the end, music is personal to everyone. This song didn’t.. ..”speak” to me; but I’m sure it’ll find a home with many other people. That’s the nature of music.


    • I don’t mind an “Americanized” Kpop song if it’s done really well or if there’s a twist to it. This is a little too straightforward to the point where it just ends up a little bland.

      Also, spicy opinion, but surf rock is really a genre to only reference and not directly recreate. A touch of surf rock can make for a great song but too much surf rock is just weird.


  5. It’s… I don’t know, it’s good but it isn’t quite connecting for me. The bassline is great and the first verse/chorus are great but then I feel like the song never quite goes anywhere from there. Except for the rap verse, which feels very out of place, I feel like I’m just hearing the same thing three times. I appreciate the coy atmosphere they cultivate but it feels like they never break out of it.

    Also, to talk business (yay) I don’t know if this was the smartest release commercially because CLC’s constant concept hopping is a factor in why they struggled to get a foothold in the industry and I worry that this strays too far from the territory they’ve recently established for themselves without having the undeniable quality that would justify that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah. I understand your sentiments completely. It’s not enough for a song to be structurally good, it has to be evocative. I need to feel “something” when I listen to it. The urge to dance.. ..the desire to sing along.. emotional tug.. ..something.. ..anything. I felt nothing listening to this. This song is very Un-CLC.

      I agree with your concerns about them losing their status and I share that given the state of this release, but I think they can weather a release or two that isn’t inline with their past few releases. However, they need to hit it out of the park when they do; not bunt to the infield.


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  7. This song is a grower!! At first listen it felt a little slight, but that hook is an earworm. I wish they repeated it one more time at the end of the song rather than rushing out so quickly. but what a fun bop.


  8. It’s ok. Not all that terrible. It has that current “retro” sound that a swath of western songs has these days. Except of course, that retro sound is an artificial construct of what people think songs sounded like back then. The 70s had Grease trying to sound retro too. Sha na na.
    I looked it up and of course this one was written by a song camp of scandinavians.
    Frankly I would just rather listen to the real thing, Petula Dusty Marianne etc.


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