20151123_seoulbeats_CLlogoI remember my introduction into K-pop quite well. My friend bombarded our Skype calls with this video of 2NE1‘s “I Am the Best.” I watched it and thought, what in the world did I just see? There was a lot going on visually, and I wasn’t feeling the song (but it’s my jam now). Eventually, I saw the light and learned to love 2NE1 for who they are.

Leader CL has been working on her US solo album for the past year. Many K-pop acts have unsuccessfully attempted to crossover into the American market, but only CL’s label mate Psy has managed to gain attention from those who know nothing about K-pop. She’s given interviews to western media in anticipation of her debut, but that’s only one step into building a wider audience. The US market needs a show to sell, which means providing a taste of her talents through visual means.

“Dr. Pepper” received mixed reviews, so it was unclear if her follow-up would land in the same position of polarization. YG wasn’t making things any easier with teasers that got Blackjacks excited for a 2NE1 comeback when it was only for CL herself. Trolling aside, fans were still pumped for a taste of things to come with the release of “Hello Bitches.”

The lyrics are pretty straightforward, but the most interesting thing about them is the seamless transition between two languages. Upon first listen, one could assume it was in Korean with a few English words thrown in for good measure, but there’s an even mixture of both languages that doesn’t sound gratuitous. There aren’t many rappers who can pull off combining lines in different languages this smoothly, so I appreciate the skill CL shows here.

If you’re looking for some kind of deep storyline in this MV, then you’ll be disappointed. This is only a dance performance video, so the main focus is of course the choreography. Parris Goebel directed and produced the video in addition to choreographing the dance. Most are familiar with her work for Taeyang‘s “Ringa Linga,” which meant we were going to get slick moves that hit hard in all the right places.

20151123_seoulbeats_CLmiddlefingersWe’re introduced to Parris and the ReQuest Dance Crew through a series of freeze frames that ends with CL appearing last. The ladies look fierce in their black leather bodysuits with wild hairstyles. They confidently sashay their way into a warehouse where CL gets things started in a dance circle. She’s literally center stage of this tribe of fierce ladies who wave their arms in praise to the charismatic rapper. At the end of her catchy chorus, CL flips off the camera as she’s heard purring, “Hello bitches!”

This is where things go from zero to a hundred. The pacing feels frenetic with their moves matching the intensity of the beat. CL unleashes everything she has, allowing her hair to whip back and forth as she stares strongly into the camera. The last time I saw CL go this hard was when 2NE1 opened for Psy during his live stream concert. It’s this unhinged passion in her dancing that really sells the video.

That’s not to say the direction was sub-par because filming this much action is not easy. There are barely any pauses as every frame is filled with something visually appealing. Obviously, the dancers are the most eye-catching, but the setting also contributes to the fun theme. In fact, there is so much going on that it occasionally overwhelms the senses.

20151123_seoulbeats_CLredAt one point, CL lectures the camera while she boasts of her worldly travels. The camera then flashes to a scene of CL and the dancers getting down in front of a row of arcade machines. Throughout all of this, CL keeps up with the ReQuest crew, leading the pack as she should. A pan to the bar leads to a colorful moment with the dancers flipping cups and tossing drinks as graphics exaggerate their moves. I love little touches like this because it adds another visual element.

CL leads the ladies in a karaoke of the chorus before things head towards the highlight of the video. Red lighting shifts the mood to a sexier vibe as everyone removes their jackets. This part reminds me a little of Rihanna‘s “Where Have You Been,” as the ladies writhe sensually on the floor. The camera flips up briefly before returning to CL, and this is when she busts out her hottest moves. I can’t accurately describe what I witnessed in words, but I know I cheered loudly for her at that moment.

At the end, CL gives a final countdown in Korean, followed by a yell of “BITCHES!” as she laughs along with the dancers. I’m interpreting this as a figurative middle finger to her haters.

When I first watched this MV, I had the same reaction I did when my friend introduced me to K-pop. I couldn’t wrap my brain around what I saw, but it grew on me as I watched it more and more. I have nothing but grand kudos to Parris for the choreography because it was electric fire.

Part of me is tempted to make CL’s “Hello Bitches” purr into my new ringtone because who wouldn’t want to answer that call? There’s really not much more to say other than she gave us exactly want we wanted performance-wise. CL clearly put her heart into executing this choreography, and I enjoy the song for what it is. I can’t wait to see her perform it at the MAMAs.

Song rating: 3.8/5

MV rating: 4/5

(YouTube, Images via YG Entertainment)