CLC have returned to cast away any doubt about their true colours — sass and fire within — in the appropriately named digital single, “Devil”. The track marks CLC’s third attitude-filled comeback of 2019, showcasing the group in different colours, portraying a more laid-back but still sassy vibe.
“Devil” gives us a classic and familiar pop sound that is backed by a prominent electronic bass guitar accompanying the vocals throughout. The song is not as busy or unnecessarily layered as many recent releases. The melody follows through rhythmically, and switches ever so slightly to accommodate the rap section and bridge. This makes for a smooth and easy listen that doesn’t needlessly switch up to sound like four songs in one. The track feels like a breath of fresh air in the midst of a sea of EDM and overused synths — it side-steps all the recent trendy gimmicks that have made for an uninspired and lacklustre recent summer.
The song is simple in melody, and reliant on the girls’ vocal abilities. Though it’s not original in production, the track is solid and allows for the group’s belter moments to shine through seamlessly. Memorably, Seunghee’s mature and capable vocals stand out beautifully during her chorus lines.
“Devil” is a mid-tempo track warning of the wrath you will incur if you cross them. Lyrically, it speaks of misconceptions about the persona’s true nature:
The real cruel Devil
You don’t know just from looking on the surface
Black and dark sunglasses
Even if I don’t have those things on me
I can always be worse
than you imagined
The storyline of the MV follows the lyrics, depicting the girls pushing each other’s buttons in a series of devious incidents. Each member occupies a respective bright, colour-blocked rooms, dressed to impress and all made up. One by one, they devilishly hoover each other’s hair, push one another off high stools, or stand in as a target for the other to throw darts at. Not to mention, in a most relatable, cringe-inducing moment, they step on Legos spread out on the floor. This overall concept is not new — it recalls Red Velvet’s “Russian Roulette” — but its execution is different in terms of setting, outfit styling, and purpose.
Hooking the listeners in, the pre-chorus line is flirtatious and memorable, acting as the warning of what’s to come:
I tried to be so polite
But why do you keep bothering me?
You’ve awakened me to the nature
what I’ve so hard to calm down
A real bad devil doesn’t know much on the surface
At this point, the devil within is unleashed, and we are met by a united bad girl front, dressed in all black, chains and all leather. The switch up to the dark themed set, lighting, and outfits compliment the lyrics well, and returns CLC back to the comfort of their true colours and attitude. What is consistent through the MV is CLC’s demeanour; in both sets, they are well-dressed, wearing expressions that scream “Don’t mess with us”.
After much talk about CLC finding their conceptual footing, “Devil” continues to show that they have truly settled on a suitable concept, one that is driven by a spunky attitude. Whether they’re dressed in chains, leather, and black dresses, or cute girly outfits, they consistently serve a distinct, unforgettable attitude. This is a great selling point which distinguishes them from other girl groups, yet allows them to embody different looks and concepts, all the while delivering their intended messages.
The single is good but not groundbreaking — partly because it lacks slightly in originality. But this is not to say that it’s not enjoyable or fun at all — it just could have used a little more of a unique selling point to establish it as one of their most memorable tracks.
Looking at their earlier releases, CLC have had strong themes that include self-love and non-conformity, and their recent MVs have been powerful and memorable with an “In your face whether you like it or not” attitude. “Devil”, for a change, takes a laid-back approach of just watching you burn in their cutsie disguised wrath.
There is much to praise about “Devil”, even if it’s not the song that will spring to mind when CLC is mentioned. It may not be as memorable as “No” or “Me”, but it shows off their versatility and ability to hold their own in a crowd of monotony. The release is a solid return for the group, straying away from the current status quo in K-pop.