2016 was an interesting year for CLC. Not only did it mark their first year together in the industry, but it also saw the addition of two new members — Eun-bin and Elkie — a Japanese debut, and two Korean comebacks. Now, in 2017, the girls have returned with a new mini-album, title track — “Goblin” — and a new concept. The concept, however, might not be as new as some may think.

The edgy, trap-inspired single signals a step in a different direction for CLC, whose past releases were more on the cutesy, refreshing side of the spectrum. In fact, the “girl crush” concept of this comeback is practically the complete opposite of their previous comebacks. Luckily, the girls were put in experienced hands with Hyuna in charge of various aspects for the comeback. Within the days leading up to the release of “Goblin”, it was revealed that she not only helped write the lyrics for the song but also helped produce Crystyle. She also looked over the choreography, and to top it all off, assisted the CLC members in their facial expressions.

Lyrically speaking, “Goblin” is playful while also confident. The song focuses on a female protagonist trying to seduce her love interest. A section of the song that illustrates this theme would be none other than the chorus:

Come out of gold, nope
Come out of silver, nope
Hey, come out and play with me

Like most EDM and trap songs, “Goblin” is composed in a way where the chorus and verses are packed with most of the instrumental action. There is, however, one part of the song where everything slows down a bit and begins to build up, which is where members Seung-hee and Sorn come in:

Stop it, I know everything
Stop pretending you don’t
Are you listening? Appear before me
Look at me

Actually, I’m a bit nervous
It’s taking too long
Take me away immediately

The premise of “Goblin” — also referred to as “Hobgoblin” — is based on traditional Korean folklore. The hobgoblin is a horned, often mischievous creature that carries around a bat. Depending on whether a person is “good” or “bad”, the hobgoblin will either reward them or punish them. While the creature can be used for humor and satire, it can also conjure up fear. The chorus reflects the image by repeating “Come out of gold / Come out of silver,” which is a common phrase that a Korean hobgoblin would say when encountering a human.

I’m still trying to figure out whether it’s pure coincidence or some sort of strategy for “Goblin” to be promoted at the same time as the drama of the same name. Knowing the path Cube Entertainment is on — especially with the loss of The-Artist-Formerly-Known-As-Beast — the company probably tried to pull all the stops with this comeback to make sure it had some momentum. It could also just be a simple coincidence that I’m just overthinking, but you can never be sure with Cube.

The MV begins with member Eun-bin strutting her way into an otherwise abandoned warehouse. As the song begins to play, the video switches in between solo cuts of each member. After Eun-bin declares that she’s “in the zone” and introduces the group as CLC, the group breaks out into dance while accompanied by backup dancers. Throughout the video, the backdrop switches in between the warehouse, a holographic and neon-lighted front of a building, a black staircase, and a purple box. Despite a dynamic choice of background, the MV does stay loyal to the concept of a hobgoblin. Baseball bats appear repeatedly throughout the video, and Yu-jin‘s hair is styled in a way that resembles the horns of a hobgoblin.

One thing I can’t stop reeling over is how reminiscent “Goblin” is of 4Minute, both song- and MV-wise. On one hand, I can understand the similarities given that an actual 4Minute member worked with CLC for the comeback. Thinking about some of the mannerisms, however, makes the entire situation all too uncanny to be looked over.

“Girl crush” is a completely new concept for CLC to be working with, especially since they’ve only done cutesy up until now. With the momentum 4Minute had with “Crazy” and “Hate”, “Goblin” might be an instance of Cube falling back on a concept they’ve seen with the results in the past. Although CLC garnered some popularity with the strong debut that was “Pepe”, follow-ups such as “Like”, “High Heels”, and “No Oh Oh” failed to gain any similar traction, as catchy as they might’ve been. As a result, Cube is left still struggling to push CLC forward, which is where “Goblin” and Hyuna come in.

Not only is she one of Cube’s most influential acts, but she’s also a former member of the girl group who found success with the “girl crush” concept. While Hyuna might’ve agreed to work with the girl group out of her own volition, Cube found an opportunity for some extra promotion and media play. As off-putting as it may be and seem to outsiders, it seemed to work since “Goblin” has become CLC’s most successful single to date.

Oftentimes, it’s rather risky for an artist to try out a completely different image for themselves, but CLC have definitely managed to pull it off with “Goblin”. I really enjoyed the overall production of the comeback, especially the fashion and outfits shown in the music video. Each of the members was able to stand out on their own, and I really enjoyed both the song and the MV.

So, readers, what did you think of “Goblin”? Is it simply 4Minute 2.0, or was CLC able to create a new image for themselves? Let us know in the comments below!

Rating: 4/5

(Sources: YouTubeArirang, Color Coded Lyrics, Sports Chosun, Images via Cube Entertainment)