CL is back.
For anyone who has followed the South Korean artist in the past, this release comes as very welcome news. For those who haven’t heard of CL, she is the former leader of K-Pop powerhouse group 2NE1, and a very accomplished solo singer/songwriter and artist in her own right, following their disbandment.
Having been held back from releasing music for the last couple of years (we won’t retread the drama or speculate, but some information exists online) ‘In The Name Of Love’ is a surprise release, containing six songs with music video counterparts. In this article, we are going to explore both the tracks and the videos, in album order.
Let’s get started!
Before we start digging deeper into the tracks, you’ll notice a string of numbers alongside the titles. These numbers are dates (in U.S. form, read backwards for UK readers), acting as both a diary of the music she was making, and to show us that she hadn’t stopped working or caring for her fans- quite the opposite, CL was desperate to release new music throughout the whole period.
Anyway, to this song and video!
Directed by: CL
“Tears I shed for you,
Is my last gift for you,
What’s done is done,
Now it’s getting messy.”
The first release from the EP, +DONE161201+ is an upbeat yet melancholic track, celebrating her empowerment and freedom from someone who has underestimated her strength. Layered with synthesisers, robotic horns and a cutting drum beat, CL’s warm vocals are the perfect match to the busy instrumental, and the hook will most certainly get into your head. Maybe permanently, I can’t promise anything on the contrary. But I do know that the last few days, I have been bursting out into “Ohhh-ee-oooh I’m done with you” at sporadic and unexpected moments. The rap break delivers more English vocals in comparison to the rest of the song, and it’s snappy, sassy and quick-fire. Everything we have come to expect from The Baddest Female.
The video is a vertical project, directed by CL herself, which is made up of short clips from fans on Instagram/ Snapchat lip syncing to the words (as well as a couple of guest appearances). It’s cute and very much a celebration of the community who have been waiting for CL’s comeback, and whilst we don’t get a glimpse of the artist herself, her artistic style is all over it.
Directed by kinotaku / CL
“When you paint your future with me everyday,
I can feel your eyes light up,
Never thought you’d fall in love again,
But my love opened up your heart.”
With a militaristic drum beat and wistful synthesisers, this breakup track is suitably bleak and dreary. Transcendent chords paired with an emotional vocal performance makes this a standout of the album. Though more of a sad track, CL never misses the opportunity for a rap verse, and this one commands your entire attention.
The video is a marvel of graphics and design work, presenting a series of photos as a scrapbook. Jagged edges and mismatched layering explores the time between CL’s early training with 2NE1 all the way to now, and for long time fans of the artist it will be very poignant to relive the journey and the emotions that come with it. It feels like a final flick back through her past before she charges towards victory, and we can’t wait to see her master plan come to fruition.
Directed by kinotaku / CL
“Why am I afraid of the end before I start?
Will I be able to handle all this,
Running outta time,
Am I gonna make it or not.”
Bouncy horns and deep bass hits open up +(PARADOX)171115+, which soon transforms into a multi-layered production of clicks, claps and haunting backing vocals. A mix of minimalism and maximalism, the juxtaposition is inspired and works perfectly in this context, creating an exciting and fresh experience. Perhaps the most catchy track of the album, the honest and raw introspection on display gives an emotional boost to the song, and CL’s impressive range is on display throughout.
The visual initially reminded me of an 80s karaoke video. The vintage stock footage and cartoonish lyrics are mixed in with clips of random animals and locations. On first watch, I didn’t really get it, but after a few revisits, I have come to the conclusion that the vintage vibe and anachronistic timeline is meant to feel alien, almost real but with something a little bit off. This effect is definitely achieved, and creates an emotion of missing things that never happened, a nostalgia for a parallel life almost.
4)+ONE AND ONLY180228+
Directed by Daniel Russell
“Karma on her way to you,
Bet you’ll learn now I’m tellin’ you,
Goodbye is a beautiful trauma,
In the end I invited the drama so…”
This is the banger of the album. Exploding into our ears with distorted strings, the track opens with a bang and doesn’t let up until the very end. The choruses are a climax of guitars, synthesisers, drums and effects, and will literally pick you up out of your seat and make you dance * (*your mileage may vary). Combining Western and Eastern influences, this has the same bad bitch energy that Hello Bitches did back in 2016, and is probably my favourite track of the album.
Visually, an intricate choreographed dance with a masked woman and a whole lot of attitude sets the scene perfectly, and although CL’s presence is missed, the fresh black and white aesthetic is powerful and punchy.
Directed by Daniel Russell
“I ain’t wasting my energy and time playing games with you.
Bring it on, let me show you how I got this crown…”
Made for the airwaves,+(I QUIT)180327+ is one of the more radio friendly tracks on the EP, with a simple beat and melody which still manages to knock most of the Top 100 out of the water. A plucky guitar keeps things moving, with a raw vocal performance and soft vocal effects used to create an ethereal vibe. Repetitive in the best way, this is easy-listening at its best.
The video is again focused on choreography, with the performers using universal sign language to portray the lyrics, an unexpected yet effective concept.
Directed by Father Steve and Cian Moore
“I made you laugh through all the bad times,
I miss the old me…”
Some of my favourite 2Ne1 (and indeed k-pop) songs are ballads, and I was so happy to hear such a strong ballad on In The Name Of Love. Paying homage to Lonely and the group’s final song, Goodbye, CL’s vocal prowess is on full display, raw and authentic and decidedly dazzling. A backup chorus adds a poignancy to the arrangement, creating a moving and emotional experience.
The stop-motion video is also incredibly affecting, using a claymation Cherry as an embodiment of CL and her experience. Being passed over time after time for other fruits, the visuals represent CL’s stalemate with her company, not being used or promoted in any way. Not the type of concept I was expecting, and definitely not my favourite of the six on first viewing, I have really warmed to this one and would encourage you to watch it for the craft and dedication alone.
Saving us from a disastrous end to 2019, CL is free and ready to take the world by storm yet again. Having listened to this on repeat since it’s release, I have nothing but high hopes and optimism for the future. Rise Queen!