K-Pop debuts can be tricky things. At times, they’re the best song a group delivers. Sometimes, they’re the only song a group delivers!
But, debuts can also be huge wtf moments in an artist’s career. In this feature, I’ll be looking back at debut songs through the prism of time, re-evaluating how well they hold up and how representative they are of an artist’s eventual singles run.
Debut Date: March 19, 2015
As Cube Entertainment’s first new girl group after the mega-successful 4minute, CLC had a lot riding on them. Pepe emerged just as K-pop’s brassy trend was in full flourish, driven by the popularity of EXID’s Up & Down months earlier. In this way, it was well-targeted to its era.
Composed by Duble Sidekick, Pepe stakes its claim on an airy hook that circles through the track with ease, making it an incredibly pleasant listening experience. Everything about the song contributes to this cyclical structure. It’s almost as if you can visualize the music twirling. The instrumental’s nudging brass gives Pepe an enjoyable lightness, while its melodic flourishes feel reminiscent of Brave Brothers’ signature sound.
Importantly, CLC don’t oversell the cuteness. There’s a ton of attitude here, but also some strong moments of vocal belting that give Pepe a dynamic appeal. The bridge delivers a satisfying rap, and the whole thing is tied up with a chanted finale that works very well.
Does the song hold up?
Is the song stronger or weaker than most of the artist’s title tracks?
To me, this is definitely in the upper half of CLC’s singles discography.
Does the song represent the artist’s music going forward?
Not really. CLC would eventually find more success with an edgier sound and concept.