Rather than a series of comebacks, CL’s solo career has felt like a constant re-debut, trying to get things off the ground after too many unfortunate setbacks. It’s hard to believe her first solo release dropped more than eight years ago. Since then, we’ve seen the disbandment of 2NE1 and an ill-fated attempt to break the US music market. For someone as talented as CL, her work has rarely lived up to that promise.
Sadly, Spicy is another underwhelming attempt to convince listeners of CL’s supremacy. She pulls off these “I’m so bad, I’m the best” hype tracks well, but it’s a message we’ve heard so many times. “Spicy” is an overused adjective to convey this sentiment, and pulls the track dangerously close to parody. This isn’t helped by a ridiculous introduction, where a weird CGI statue plays the role of curious tourist with a voice that sounds like Christopher Walken. (Yes, that’s a sentence I typed as part of a K-pop music review. I can’t believe it, either.)
I appreciate the tension in Spicy’s instrumental. The beat is ultra-repetitive, but feels in constant ascension – like a klaxon alarm threatening nuclear meltdown. This adds needed grit to the song, which is otherwise too silly for its own good. Presumably, the Korean wordplay is better than the English lyrics (of which there are many). At one point, it’s as if CL is simply reading from the menu of a Korean restaurant. Coupled with a barely-there hook, this doesn’t inspire confidence in her musical direction. It’s too bad, because she really is one of K-pop’s best. But, it’s been a long time since she found material that matched her appeal.