[Single] After School – First Love

First Love is the sixth single released by After School. The title track was used as the promotional song.

Released: June 13, 2013
1. 8 Hot Girl
2. First Love (첫사랑) [MV]
3. Dressing Room
4. Time’s Up
5. Love Beat
6. Crying While Putting on Make-up (화장을 하다 울었어)

The single opens with 8 Hot Girl, a sensual R&B intro. I don’t know what it is about this one, but the vocals just seem so off. Would’ve been better if it was just the music and the bit of rapping.

However, the intro nicely transitions into the title track, First Love. This is another sensual and slow R&B-pop tune with some clear influence from George Michael’s Careless Whisper. The song is largely dependent on the percussion, electric guitar and saxophone riff. The vocals are not bad, although most of the girls are just whispering throughout the song to give it that sexy feeling. Nana and Raina definitely stand out here. With that said, the whole song is just a bit too slow for me. It’s nice once in a while, but can become a bit dull.

Dressing Room is a bit funkier. It’s still somewhat slow, but has some rock and electronic elements in the music. I wish the chorus was a bit faster and more impactful in terms of melody because it doesn’t totally match with the explosive energy of the arrangement, but it’s still pretty cool. Has some 80s feel to it.

I love Time’s Up. Up to this point, it is the most uptempo song and has a lot more energy than the other tracks. The melody has some ballad qualities that I like and makes me think of the song as an upbeat version of Because of You. I’m really enjoying the pacing of the song. My only gripe is I wish Raina didn’t totally dominate the song, even though her voice fit the song surprisingly well.

Love Beat brings us a heavy dance song made just for the clubs. It has strong beats and an array of synths and is quite catchy. I don’t think it is particularly original, but it is a fun listen.

I expected Crying While Putting on Make-up to be a ballad and well it is. It is a duet between Raina and Jungah and is pretty much your standard K-Pop ballad. Really, they’ve had better ones out there, but this one does get better about halfway through when it gains some power. It was nice to hear Jungah have a large amount of lines.

Overall: I can’t say I’m terribly impressed although it is better than their last single. It’s an average release from the group. There were some decent songs, but only one I really enjoyed. It was nice to hear the group attempt something different with the title track, but I think they work better with songs that have more impact.


[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)

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.