The heated debate over Clara Lee (as much as one exists) is whether she “should” be as famous as her resume warrants. She’s an actor without a major breakout role and a model who has had more ink devoted to her than a Kardashian cousin. Now, she’s extended her ubiquitous presence to music. The wait is over and Clara Lee has finally dropped her first single, “Fear.” As for that debate over Clara’s fame, “Fear” will do little to settle it. The good news about “Fear”? It’s not a disaster! The bad news? It’s not a disaster!
For a song entitled “Fear”, everything about Clara’s first single sounds safe. For those hoping for something a little more turnt up, “Fear” will be a disappointment. The tempo is more suited for a ballad which gives “Fear” a ready-made structure and plug-and-play instrumentation as an extremely effective drum machine marches to the mournful beat of a piano beat and some string synths. The slower pace allows Clara and something called a Yasu to “rap” at a more laborious pace, which in hindsight, isn’t that surprising given Clara’s lack of… any history making hip-hop music.
For her first attempt at a single, Clara acquits herself nicely on the mic. Her rapping is a bit stilted and she doesn’t try to play with the bars at all (Clara’s attempts at mixing it up essentially boil down to raising her voice). The song mitigates this by not having Clara rap too much, as they start the song off with a rather long introductory feature from Yasu – over one minute of track time – and bookend Clara’s hot rhymes with some surprisingly effective choruses which are produced with just enough hollowness to give “Fear” some needed personality. “Fear” may not inspire awe but it’s hardly a train-wreck either. The song understands its limitations and works through them in unimaginative but practical ways. It’s hip-pop complete with training wheels.
As for the visual aspects, “Fear” doesn’t so much look like a music video as it looks like a compilation of some Clara photo shoots. The general train of thought appears to be “Clara is happy and then she is sad. Then she’s wet. Oh yeah, french fries.” Attempts at editing and direction are limited to some light Instagram filters and a general slow motion effect that’s supposed to impose some gravitas on images which hold no weight. All the video has going for it is Clara and enjoyment of the video will entirely depend on whether one finds that suitable.
Examined through that lens, “Fear” is the perfect Clara Lee music video. The song is entirely perfunctory and could have been sung by nearly anyone in K-Pop. The video is a glorified photo shoot that frames Clara as an impossibly pretty empty canvas. It’s perversely incredible in its empty audacity. Clara lovers (and I count myself among them) can gleefully point to this as an example that Clara can do whatever your basic K-Pop bias can do and do it well. Her detractors will also get plenty of ammo out of “Fear” given that it’s a cookie-cutter production overlaying a Clara pictorial. Gleefully, no opinions of Clara Lee will be altered due to “Fear”. In fact, the only that will change is that posts will be written about Clara and people will talk about Clara.
And something tells me that was the whole point of this.
The world is a stage and Clara is its sexual goddess of a mastermind.