[Single] After School BLUE – The 4th Single Album

The second part of The 4th Single Album is the fourth single release by After School and the debut single by subgroup After School BLUE. The title track is meant to have a cuter sound and only features Raina, Jooyeon, E-Young and Lizzy.


Released: July 20, 2011
1. Wonder Boy (원더보이) [MV]
2. Lady

Living up to the hype, Wonder Boy is certainly a cute song and fits the subgroup’s image quite well, but at the same time differentiates itself from After School’s other subgroup, Orange Caramel. The song features a more held back verse in order to focus on the explosive chorus with it’s flying synths and bouncy beat. It’s a pretty good song as it’s quite catchy although I’m not a particular fan of the chorus opening. I find the coming coming come to me a little annoying, but it certainly steps up right after. Vocally, it’s a song that actually shows off the group’s voices. All of them sound great and Jooyeon, who is often considered the weakest vocalist in the group, has shown improvement. There is an obvious dominance of Raina in the song and it makes sense considering the amount of showtime Jungah had in the last song. Lady features all of After School and is a little different from what I expected. It’s a good song though and has qualities of In the Night Sky in it with its laid back feel and clap beats but a little more toned down. There isn’t much to say about it cept it’s more like In the Night Sky #2. Vocally, it’s well done and each of the members sound quite good.

Overall: While the single didn’t blow me away, it was a good listen altogether and both songs are quite well done. I’m glad the title track was able to differentiate itself from the sound of Orange Caramel or it would’ve made more sense to just have it released with that subgroup. Lady was just a solid track.

A-

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[Single] After School RED – The 4th Single Album

The 4th Single Album is one of two parts of well After School’s fourth single and the debut single for the subgroup After School RED. The title track was used as the promotional track and only includes Nana, Jungah, Kahi and UEE and it meant to be the sexier of the two subgroups.


Released: July 20, 2011
1. In the Night Sky (밤 하늘에) [MV]
2. Hollywood

Considering most fans were expecting something sexy, In the Night Sky ended up a little disappointing considering it sounds like a poppy SISTAR song. With that said, once you get into the song, it’s actually good. It’s clapping beats mixed with the subtle piano in the verses and the dotted synths during the chorus really give it a mysterious but relaxed feel. I also found the middle 8 to be the most stunning part of the song where everything seemed slowed down a bit. Vocally, it’s quite good and each member pulls their own, even UEE. Jungah totally dominates the song and rightfully so since her vocals are the strongest in this subgroup. Still, I actually prefer Nana’s parts as she seems to fit the song just right. Hollywood is actually a song that includes all of After School. Unlike the last song with it’s more relaxed style, this one has more dance qualities to it. I can see how it ties with the last song though, as there are elements that seem similar such as slower pace. I’m not a big fan of the song though. It’s good, but I feel there is something missing with the overall delivery and at times it’s a bit empty.

Overall: Both songs on this single are little disappointing in the sense that I imagined it to be something upbeat and fierce. With that said, both songs are still good listens. I found the title track to be a great laidback pop tune with more mature elements to it and while I’m not a big fan of Hollywood, it’s a decent listen.

B+

[Digital Single] Bekah – Take Me To The Place

Take Me To The Place is the debut solo single and last release by (former) After School member, Bekah.


Released: June 21, 2011
1. Take Me To The Place
2. Take Me To The Place (Inst.)

Take Me To The Place is in all English and is in a similar vein to the R&B/pop tunes found in the US music market these days. It’s a striking song because it’s so well put together and feels perfect for what it was used for. With that said, I actually prefer the verses more than the choruses because the feeling a bit more bittersweet to me and I’m not the biggest fan of some of the higher notes found in the chorus. Vocally, the song is great and it’s a shame we never really got to hear much of Bekah’s singing voice. She is easily capable of holding her own and has a slight husk for her vocal tone.

Overall: Great release from a great member. Bekah easily shows her vocal capabilities here and it’s such a shame that she won’t release new material.

A

[Digital Single] UEE – Sok Sok Sok

Sok Sok Sok is the debut solo single by After School member, UEE.


Released: June 21, 2011
1. Sok Sok Sok (feat. Jong Hyun (AS Boys) (쏙쏙쏙)
2. Sok Sok Sok (Inst.)

Sok Sok Sok is a charming pop tune that fits UEE’s image to the T. While I wasn’t really thinking this song would stand out, it’s actually quite good and is really catchy. I’m usually not used to the use of repetitive phrases in choruses, but it works here with the light beats and flowing synths. Obviously, the song isn’t spectacular vocally, but UEE gets by. I think her voice fits the song’s style well despite the obvious fact that the song also shows her weaknesses. The rapping added by the After School Boys member is also a nice touch since it adds the much needed punch to keep the song going.

Overall: Great song despite the lack of vocal prowess. I hope that if UEE continues her solo career, she follows this style.

A

[Album] After School – Virgin

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]
3. Virgin
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.

B