Review: Does Clara's 'Fear' Impress?

Clara Lee Debut

Voted #2 in Mode Magazine's 100 most beautiful women in the world, Clara Lee, actress, model, sex symbol, has decided to add Kpop idol under her resume with her release of "Fear." The transition isn't really so absurd, with idols seeking acting and modeling roles, expected to join a variety show at a moment's notice. Clara's attempting a more non-linear route to Kpop stardom, one that could give agencies pause, since success here could highlight their archaism. But Clara probably isn't concerned with that. Her big goal here could be very straightforward: Not embarrassing herself.

And, good thing for Clara, she doesn't. Mostly. Observe:

We've read articles and fan responses to this video, and most people seem to be surprised at how not terrible this song and video are. This debut is not a catastrophe as some Kpop fans would wish it to be, calling Clara the Kim Kardashian of Korea, the daughter of famous singer Lee Seung-kyu, genetically (and some would allege: surgically) blessed and willing to flaunt that beauty she holds. She's an easy target even in a culture that values the s-line and physical perfection.

She did, after all, become an "overnight" sensation after wearing a form-fitting outfit while she threw out the first pitch at a professional Korean baseball game.

And her innuendo-filled Sprite commercial likely has gained her notoriety from hormonal teens all across the world. And how can one forget Clara being featured in Jay Park's video, "Joah?"

No, she hasn't had as controversial an entry into mass media like, say, Paris Hilton and her sex tape, but even Clara's acting roles would fail to impress her more cynical critics. Sex Symbol, in a cynic's crass equation, often equals No Real Talent. 

Clara Lee Forlorn

Which isn't really fair on any level, but doesn't make her debut actually good either.

"Fear" is a strange mess of a song and video, beginning with Yasu rapping for just long enough to make it awkward that the star idol hasn't opened her mouth yet. We get shots of Clara in tight lingerie, looking many different levels of gorgeous and forlorn, posing under the morning sun. If Clara had simply sung the chorus, the song would have remained inoffensive, but forgettable. But by attempting to rap herself, Clara puts herself out there, and ultimately, she fails at showcasing an impressive vocal prowess.

It's not catastrophic. It's not even so embarrassing that Clara can't rap brilliantly, can't keep her voice from wobbling, can't keep up with the lyrics that seem to shoot our of her mouth faster than she can control. No one's expected much: She's not a singer. And she doesn't have five to seven years of agency training, signing with Polaris Entertainment just this July, on the promise of becoming a global star.

Clara Lee Kpop Idol

If she had signed with SM or JYP years before, as she has said had been a possibility (to naysayer's doubts), and did not have the recognition she already has now, she would certainly have been shielded by better singers. How many idols out there have limited vocal range? More than the industry would like to admit. But by taking this non-linear path to Kpop, Clara has taken the reins of her own career, and that's both admirable, but limiting to her future as an idol.

And how serious is Clara about becoming an idol? We can't quite picture her winning 1st place on "Music Bank" or performing in concerts in Gangnam. Clara dabbles, jumping from one activity to the next, and one has to look at this debut with skepticism.

In the end, "Fear" is a safe, laborious song with a photo-shoot video, that takes itself more seriously than it should. It's not a terrible song, which will impress fans with admittedly low expectations. "Fear," judged as a debut single from a model/actress, exceeds expectations by being average, just.

Timothy Moore writes from Chicago. He blogs at Read My Blog Please, and edits at Ghost Ocean Magazine. His biases are T-ara, Block B, Nine Muses, Brown Eyed Girls, and Girl's Day.


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