Virgin is the first album released by girl group After School. It is the first release to include E-Young and the last release to include member Bekah. Shampoo was used as the promotional track, while Let’s Step Up was performed as an intro. Play Ur Love also got a music video release.
Released: April 27, 2011
1. Let’s Step Up
2. Shampoo [MV]
4. Bang! (2011 New Recording) (뱅!) [MV]
5. Play Ur Love
6. Dream (ft. Pre-School Girl Yun Jo)
7. Because of You (2011 New Recording) (너 때문에) [MV]
8. Lean on Time (시간에 기대어)
9. How Are You Doing? (잘 지내고 있죠)
10. Funky Man (ft. Pre-School Girl Yun Jo)
11. My Bell
12. When I Fall (2011 New Recording)
13. Shampoo (Radio Edit)
Right away, we are hit with the intro Let’s Step Up. It’s an interesting piece because it’s quite strong and focuses on tapping. It’s certainly better while being performed, but it grabbed my attention with it’s strong beats and rapping. It’s hard to imagine how the song transitions right into Shampoo, but it works. This Daishi Dance number has an airier quality to it and one with a more sentimental feel. Think Because of You’s sweeter sister. It fuses the piano, dance beats and synths well with the vocal arrangement, which is a little fresh in regards that it doesn’t focus on a phase being repeated constantly. Vocally, it’s great because we finally get to hear some more of Jungah, who had been pushed back in recent releases. All the girls sound great and while the rap sometimes hurts the songs, it does wonders here and fits right in. Definitely a favourite of mine for 2011. Virgin switches things up again and brings a striking upbeat dance tune. It’s definitely harder hitting than the last song and focuses more on a clapping beat and layered vocals. While I think it’s quite catchy, I’m not particularly keen on the vocals because they seem too overdone. Would’ve given more impact if they didn’t make them sound so flat emotionally. Not bad though. Bang!, Because of You and When I Fall are all given new recordings. For the most part they sound the same besides some minor differences in vocal clarity and beats, but are still as listenable and as good as they were on the singles. Play Ur Love gives us a nice and slow R&B piece and only features Kahi, Jungah, Nana and Raina. It’s a little similar to that of When I Fall, but I actually prefer this one because the chorus flows better. Obviously the main focus for this song are the vocals, which are all well done. Jungah and Raina easily dominate the song, especially the latter, whose vocals I feel really fit here. Kahi works well and while I really like Nana, I don’t particularly get her inclusion. Really, the song would’ve worked out without her there. Still a great song. Dream features an unknown singer named Yun Jo (who is actually quite pretty). The song itself has a stronger pop tinge to it than the others and at times has a Xmas quality to it. Vocally, the song is a good listen and this new girl is actually quite decent and fits in well. The slight nasally quality in her voice makes her stand out on her own. Lean on Time is the solo song for Raina and has a R&B influence to it although it’s a little more laidback this time. The guitar mixed with the strings in the back give the song a nice twist to things. When I listen to it, I think of some earlier K-R&B tunes by the likes of Lyn and J. Vocally, it’s of course spot on and I’m really surprised that Raina used falsetto for her higher notes instead of the usual chest notes. How Are You Doing? is a ballad that only features Nana, Jungah, Raina and E-Young. It’s a nice song in the fact that we get a clearer idea of E-Young’s voice considering she only had one line in Shampoo and it also shows off Raina and Jungah’s sweeping vocals. My only problem is that the song itself is rather dull. It’s a standard K-Pop ballad, but with no perks musically. Funky Man features only Nana, Lizzy and that unknown singer, Yun Jo. It switches things up again by giving a “funky” pop tune. I’m not really into this track and in all honesty, it’s my least favourite song. It’s just a mess. The transition between the verses and choruses is rough and the vocal arrangement is just all over the place. All this and the use of annoying background vocals just doesn’t work for me. My Bell is Jungah’s solo piece and like Raina’s, the style fits her voice quite well. With that said, this sweeping ballad is really no different from How Are You Doing? to me and bores me a bit too. I’ll admit that Jungah sounds gorgeous and the arrangement is nice sounding, but it sounds like they picked an album track from a 2003 K-Pop album. I would’ve preferred Jungah to do an upbeat R&B number as I think her voice would work just as well with that. The album basically ends on Shampoo again, but this time as a Radio Edit. We are essentially getting a cut down version of the original, but for me, it’s always great to listen to this song again, so I thought it was a good closer.
Overall: Virgin was a decent album. It certainly has some stand out (new) tracks, but it started to falter around the end and became a tad dull. My main problem and I think with some people, is that it featured way too many slower tunes. Really, only Funky Man, Virgin and Bang stood out as the fast paced and hardhitting tracks, but I didn’t find all of them entertaining. I guess one could say it is no different from the usual K-Pop albums, which some believe are only good for their promotional tracks. I think that idea is seen here as I loved all the tracks promoted (past and present), but was not thrilled about the others.