[Single] Orange Caramel – My Copycat

My Copycat is the fourth single released by Orange Caramel. The title track was used as the promotional song.

mycopycat
Released: August 18, 2014
1. My Copycat (나처럼 해봐요) [MV]
2. Gangnam Avenue (강남거리) [MV]

My Copycat is a catchy tune that replicates something similar to the subunit’s hit song, Lipstick, although it doesn’t hit as hard in terms of the Romanian pop influence. It does use a fun horn synth to give the music some character. It’s the highlight of the song and what pretty much gives it some edge. The melody isn’t particularly stellar, but it is catchy enough and works with the music in a fun way. It’s not their strongest work, but it’s just as catchy. Gangnam Avenue on the other hand returns us to a more straightforward dance sound, something that hasn’t really been heard in a while from them. The musical arrangement loses the unique touch, but the vocal arrangement is totally Orange Caramel. I don’t think I totally love this song though. Everything doesn’t mesh together as well as I hoped it would as the vocals don’t blend as well as they should into the music. It’s decent, but it’s a bit empty sounding.

Overall: My Copycat is a fun tune and it is just an earworm. On the otherhand, while Gangnam Avenue is a decent listen, it’s nothing particularly impressive and a bit generic.

B+

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[Single] Orange Caramel- Catallena

Catallena is the third single released by After School sub-unit Orange Caramel. Keeping up with the odd concepts, this one was focused around sushi.

catallena
Released: March 12, 2014
1. Catallena (까탈레나) [MV]
2. So Sorry
3. Crying Uncontrollably (미친 듯이 울었어)

Right away, the single opens with the title track, an infectious pop tune that samples a Punjabi wedding folk song. It’s really interesting to hear how the use of the sample flows with the chorus and it is a brilliant addition as it gives Catallena an extra pop that adds an even larger effect on the visual front when coupled with the dance. While the verses are great, it is definitely the chorus that steals the show and it’s not just because of the melody. When listening to the instrumental, it is clear to hear the excellent blend of the synthesizers with one another as well as the beat and background vocals. Really a fun and delicious listen.  So Sorry surprisingly follows up the last song with another funky song, reminiscent of 2012’s Lipstick. While sometimes overly repetitive, the song is strong enough that it could have been the promoted track (which is probably why is was performed live a few times). It’s fun as well, but the song is definitely not as upbeat in attitude as the last song, which is a nice change. Enjoyable. Crying Uncontrollably is probably the weirdest song just because it is so different from the other two. While still an upbeat pop song, it features a much larger dance quality and is also (fitting with the title) rather sombre sounding in comparison. Unlike the squeaky vocals found in the last song, we get to hear the girls sing in a much more serious tone. It’s a nice change and a solid track.

Overall: This was a great single actually. Catallena is just an excellent and intoxicating listen that also boasts the girl group’s charms, while So Sorry is a great followup that is also A-side material. The last song was surprisingly different, but still strong and helps to give the single a bit of diversity in genre.

A+

[Single] Happy Pledis – HAPPY PLEDIS 2012 ‘LOVE LETTER’

HAPPY PLEDIS 2012 ‘LOVE LETTER’ is the second of the Happy Pledis charity singles. Unlike the first which only included After School, this one includes Son Dambi as well as a few members from Hello Venus and NU’EST on the promotional single. LOVE LETTER was used as the promotional song.


Released: December 01, 2011
1. LOVE LETTER (feat. Ara, Hyelim, Jonghyun, Minhyun, Dongho) [MV]
2. Winter’s Tale (겨울 이야기)
3. How Is It? (어떤가요)
4. LOVE LOVE LOVE Remix

LOVE LETTER does what Love Love Love did and that was bring us a Christmas-themed pop tune. It’s filled with all that happy and joyful spirit although the jingling isn’t as prominent as it was in Lovex3. I can say that this is probably one of the best Christmas songs that came out of K-Pop recently. It’s not particularly catchy as the vocal arrangement is a little too fast paced and sometimes it seems difficult to pinpoint where the chorus and verses transition as well as the vocals seem a bit forced at times, but it gathers much of Pledis and it’s lighthearted pop atmosphere is really refreshing in the aggressive dance-dominated K-Idol world. It’s also nice to hear a few new voices such as Ara who really works her part. I think it’s safe to say the cheese really comes out with Winter’s Tale which includes Son Dambi, Kahi and Jungah. This song has a stronger similarity to Lovex3 and I’m not really liking it. I’ve never been a fan of these overdone Christmas songs and while it’s catchy at times it just sounds way too similar to Lovex3 that there’s really no need for this one. The girls do sound good though. How Is It? is a much better song as we’re given a powerful ballad with R&B undertones and it features only the Orange Caramel girls. The song reminds me of a few of the early 00’s K-Pop songs as this style was pretty popular then. It’s not the best of it’s type out there, but it does it’s job and the middle 8 and last chorus step things up so it doesn’t get too boring. Vocally, of course Raina takes the lead here and she does a great job with the vocals although I don’t think her voice is as suited for these kinds of ballads. The LOVE LOVE LOVE Remix is a really big change from not only the original but just from the general mood and sound of this single. It starts off with a heavy trance intro before going into the main song, which is just like the original except it has a strong dance beat and an array of synths. It’s a nice change and I actually think this is better than the original because it surprisingly works and is way more interesting.

Overall: Compared to the first Happy Pledis single, this one was much better. The title track was far more interesting and wasn’t as cheesy and while there definitely was still some cheese in here like the second track, the remainder of it was pretty decent.

B-

[Album] Orange Caramel – Lipstick

Lipstick is the first album released by After School sub-unit Orange Caramel. The title track was used as the promotional track and the album includes several of their previously released songs and five new ones.


Released: September 12, 2012
1. Bubble Bath
2. Milkshake (밀크쉐이크)
3. Lipstick (립스틱) [MV]
4. A~ing♡ (아잉♡) [MV]
5. Magic Girl (마법소녀) [MV]
6. Not Yet… (아직…)
7. Superwoman
8. One Love
9. Shanghai Romance (샹하이 로맨스(上海之戀)) [MV]
10. Clara’s Dream (클라라의 꿈)
11. Close Your Eyes (눈을 감아)
12. Can’t Delay Love (사랑을 미룰 순 없나요)
13. Bangkok City (2012 New Recording) [MV]

Let me just get all the older songs out of the way. On this album, 8 of the 13 songs were previously released on their singles and mini albums, although one of them is a new recording. The promotional songs, Magic Girl, A~ing♡, Shanghai Romance and even the new recording of Bangkok City (which isn’t much different from the original) are still as catchy as ever, all quality tracks and really sum up what the image of Orange Caramel is all about. The other 4 older tracks feature a variety of sounds ranging from dance / pop to ballads. Three of these tracks (Not Yet…, Close Your Eyes, Can’t Delay Love) are actually ballads and solo tracks, with the first and last being Raina’s and the middle being Nana’s. Definitely Raina owns with hers most in part due to her voice, which I think is what makes Nana’s a bit weak. The last of the older tracks is One Love, which is a catchy dance / pop song. It has certainly grown on me since I heard it on their second mini, but it’s still missing something in the music. From here, we hit the five new songs. Bubble Bath opens the album and we are given a funky electronic pop song with a heavy beat. Think J-Pop group Perfume as there is also a heavy amount of autotune. What I like most about this song is that the chorus isn’t so in your face, but rather tones it down compared to the verses which seems to really work here. It’s just insanely catchy despite not having any obvious hooks. Milkshake is crazy. It continues the upbeat pop sound of the last song but with a stronger dance influence (probably because it’s by Daishi Dance). I have to say though that this is weaker than Bubble Bath. I really love the talk-rapping parts as well as the verses, but I find the chorus just annoying. The high-pitched vocals are bothersome and the melody itself is just too fast-paced and childish that it just sounds odd with the more flowing musical arrangement. I love the middle 8 though. Lipstick is the promotional song for the album and it’s my favourite song on the album, even beating out Bangkok City. With it’s strong Romanian pop influence, funky synths and it’s cute but slightly sexy vocal arrangement, it easily stands out in both this album and just OC’s overall discography. I love Raina’s usual adlibs at the ends of their promo tracks and here is no exception. Superwoman is one of the slower upbeat tracks on the album although it still has a consistently strong dance beat. It also features Pledis Trainee Seungchul. This is one of the stronger tracks on the album as it fuses a ballad like melody with a touch of rap and a strong dance influence. My only gripe is that the girl rap is a little annoying vocally. The vocals on the song are really good though and it really shows off Raina’s voice. Clara’s Dream is the last of the new songs and it is Lizzy’s solo. Like the other solo songs, it is a ballad, but it stands a part from all the other songs on the album with it’s strong Mediterranean twist that almost reminds me of some of Lee Soo Young’s songs (which I love). This resemblance I really see around the end of the song as it climaxes a bit. It’s rather dark and seems to have a sadness to it although I do feel like Lizzy’s voice is a bit too sweet and not mature enough (yet) for this song.

Overall: Firstly, the newer songs on the album were quite strong and each is different enough to have their own personality. When added with the older songs which were, for the most part, already quite strong, this makes for a pretty solid album. I’m especially impressed by the title track and Lizzy’s solo because both brought something completely different. Sure there were a few blips here and there, but for the most part it’s a strong offering.

A-

[Single] Orange Caramel – Shanghai Romance

Shanghai Romance is the second single released by Orange Caramel. It continues their Asian city theme by representing Shanghai, China. The title track was used as the promotional single.


Released: October 12, 2011
1. Shanghai Romance (샹하이 로맨스(上海之戀)) [MV]
2. Close Your Eyes (눈을 감아)
3. The Day You Went Away

Shanghai Romance is a pop tune with a strong dance beat and slight Asian twist. The song opens up with quite a strong intro that pretty much sums up what the song gives. I think the best quality about the song is that they added this Asian twist with the synths, but made sure to not overdo it. They leave it in the background of the chorus and it is generally covered by the vocal arrangement. I don’t think it’s as strong as Bangkok City since this one seems to have a stronger push for repetition, but it’s very catchy altogether. The vocals are generally like most of their songs, which fits it well. Close Your Eyes is actually a solo by member Nana and with a surprising twist it’s a ballad. I didn’t actually expect this out of her since while I find her tone quite appealing her voice is on the weaker scale when it comes to power. The song itself is quite nice. The melody isn’t anything to rave about, but I really enjoy the powerful instrumental and the sweet electric guitar that sweeps in at the end. Nana herself sounds good, but I don’t think this is her forte. They should give her something softer. The Day You Went Away is a Mandarin cover of M2M’s song of the same name, which was originally included on the Taiwanese press’ of their first mini-album (and a Korean cover on their second mini). The song is just good as it has a more melancholy sound to it and I love the guitar and bass in the instrumental. They all sound good too, although their Mandarin is a bit sketchy. I like that they put in the effort to record in another language, but Lizzy and Raina really can’t pull it off on their solo parts that well. haha

Overall: This single is quite nice and continues the quality releases that the group has brought. The title track is catchy and just an overall strong release, while the other two songs were nice additions although not particularly strong in certain aspects.

B-

[Digital Single] Orange Caramel – Bangkok City

Bangkok City is the first digital single released by After School subgroup, Orange Caramel.


Released: March 31, 2011
1. Bangkok City (방콕시티) [MV]
2. Bangkok City (Inst.)

Bangkok City really changes things up. Compared to Orange Caramel’s past music, this one has a stronger club vibe to it and is a vast departure from their more bubblegum pop oriented title tracks. With that said, it’s a nice transformation. The thumping beats, funky synths and insanely catchy chorus really work well together. I also really enjoy the vocals in this song. Nana and Lizzy really sound great in this genre, especially the former with her more prominent nasally tone. Raina really steals the show with the last chorus though and the adlibs she does. With all this said, I do have one minor problem and that is there is just a little emptiness in the song. I think it has to do with the music as it comes off a little cheap sounding.

Overall: Orange Caramel return with a striking party tune that’s both catchy and shows off the vocals. While I did feel it was missing something, it’s a great listen regardless.

A

[Mini-Album] Orange Caramel – The Second Mini Album

The Second Mini Album is well the second mini-album by After School subgroup, Orange Caramel. A~ing♡ was used as the promotional track.


Released: November 18, 2010
1. A~ing♡ (아잉♡) [MV]
2. One Love
3. Yet… (아직…)
4. Standing Here (이곳에 서서)
5. A~ing♡ (Inst.)

The Second Mini Album opens with A~ing♡, which is pretty much a continuation of the style they led with Magic Girl. Compared to that track, I prefer this one though. I guess because of the more bubblegum qualities are toned down and that can really be heard in the arrangement. While there are still some instances, the majority of the music is leveled and features less of the theatrics as their previous promotional track. The vocals are still very “cute” and the girls sing with sweeter qualities to their voices. As a followup, it’s pretty good. One Love brings us something different with a more dance focused pop song. While there are qualities that make it stick to the Orange Caramel sound, it’s definitely more mature, at least arrangement-wise. While I do like it, I’m not particularly liking some of the editing done on the chorus because it comes off as a little too over-the-top. Vocally it’s decent although nothing standout. Like the previous mini-album, this one features a solo from Raina and it’s yet again the standout track for me. Compared to the last one, Yet… features a grander arrangement and a prominent introduction of strings. It’s a little on the ordinary Kpop ballad sound, but what really makes it stand out are the vocals. I find it easy to pinpoint Raina’s vocals since they are rather distinct, but here she sings with a slightly deeper pitch and comes off across a little different. It’s really well done though and her voice just flows through the song. Standing Here is the last song on the mini-album (not counting the instrumental) and is a Korean cover of M2M’s The Day You Went Away. What I like is that it keeps its nostalgic feel and doesn’t try to update it too much and ruin what was already good. I also really enjoy the Spanish twist with the guitar in the background on top of the more melancholic music. It’s well done vocally and I’m glad they didn’t have Raina go all out with belting or it would’ve broken the song a bit.

Overall: For a second mini-album, this one is a good follow-up. First off, I personally enjoyed the promotional track more this time around and it’s much more tolerable than the first. Raina’s solo piece was also more enjoyable, although I feel Can’t You Delay Love fit her voice better. The other two songs were also pretty good listens.

B+