Almost a year ago, CL debuted her In The Name Of Love project, much to the delight of 2NE1 fans. But, the album was marred by a lack of promotion, and never became the big return-to-form I was hoping for. As talented and iconic as CL is, she’s facing an uphill battle in an industry that favors the young and new. But with a new album on the horizon, it’s time to celebrate her unique voice and artistry.
I don’t know that +HWA+ is going to set the music industry on fire, but its attitude-infused approach highlights many of the elements I appreciate most about CL. Opening with a chanted hook, the track quickly moves into a charismatic rap verse. It’s not the most original verse I’ve ever heard, but it’s nice to hear CL back in her comfort zone. And, the same could be said about the chorus. I love how bass-heavy the instrumental becomes during the segment, and the militant refrain is instantly catchy. But I wish the hook didn’t rely so heavily on its “Rose of Sharon” nursery-rhyme construction. You know it’s bad when even I – a non-Korean speaker – can recognize how closely this veers toward cliché.
Still, +HWA+ is mostly good fun. The instrumental has a few tricks up its sleeve, including a catchy synth loop that gives it a bit of an electro bounce. That opening chant returns for the song’s finale, yet feels underused. I don’t think +HWA+ needed any pop melody to be successful, but it still feels like it’s missing something. As it stands, the track is quite repetitive, and its success will likely come down to how strongly you like (or dislike) the chorus.