Wednesday, July 27, 2011

After School: Blue vs. Red

I've been meaning to write a review on either and/or both of the singles since they came out last week, but I was swamped with schoolwork and all I wanted to do this past weekend was sleep, shop and eat. Then, last Sunday I thought of a decent excuse for not writing a review earlier, so I decided to write this post up anyway. So here I am. My excuse? I was waiting for them to wrap up their comeback stages, and although they haven't gone on Music Bank yet, they've done 2/3 of the shows - that's good enough. This will be a little more than just two single reviews slapped together, because it's an analysis of the sub-groups as a whole - the members, the single, the delivery.

After School Blue

The Concept:
According to Pledis, they're supposed to be the cute ones. Cute, "fresh" (whatever that's supposed to be) - mainly cute. When I first heard of this, I instantly knew this was the AS sub-group that would make cringe. And the sub-group with Raina in it. I was right!

The Line-up:
Raina - Fits this subgroup like a glove, and you need someone in this subgroup who can actually hold a melody, so Raina it is. I would've been more surprised if they put her in Red, where she most definitely does not belong. That and they finally took her away from Jung Ah so Jung Ah can finally get majority of the vocals.
Lizzy - Lizzy's pretty versatile, to be honest. She's young so you would assume she'd fit more in Blue, but actually I'd like to see her in Red. She has the vocals to do it, seeing as they thought UEE was okay for Red. But we'll get to UEE later.
Jooyeon - Thank goodness she's here and not in Red. At least she can hide her non-existent vocals with cuteness, which isn't really happening but you can tell they tried.
E-Young - It's too early to really judge E-Young's voice, seeing as she's only been around for 1 single (plus this) and she gets minimal lines, but at least here in Blue, if she's really good it'll show. We'll see.

Who should have been included:
UEE - Enough said. I'll talk about her more when we get to AS Red, but UEE should've really been in Blue.

The Single:
"Wonder Boy"

Plagiarism issues aside (Have you people not gotten tired of all these stupid plagiarism claims already?), it's not a bad song. To put it in modern terms, it's very SNSD circa-2007-meets-Orange Caramel. For the people who have bothered to learn their kpop history, I do agree when people say it kinda reminds them of "Forever Love" (the Fin.K.L version, not the DBSK one), but I wouldn't go as far as to say that it was plagiarized. There are similarities, yes, but the melody isn't a 100% copy. Humor me. Anyway. It matches the entire idea of this subgroup, and seeing as majority of them really do this type of singing in the first place, the vocals were decent, when taken in context. Cute with a bit of spunk - come to think of it, that kind of matches what the new generation of After School are being marketed as.

The Performances:
Because majority of the members are really made for this kind of material, it doesn't surprise me that they can actually pull it off, again relative to the material. And, there were quite a few revelations - E-Young actually has a voice, Lizzy has a nice timbre but not that much of a voice, and Jooyeon still can't sing. Unlike the Orange Caramel performances which were really exaggerated and annoying, their first set of performances for "Wonder Boy" were pretty strong. Not my personal taste, but they did it well.

After School Red

The Concept:
Basically the opposite of AS Blue. Fierce, sexy - that type. Even before the song came out, I was already placing my bets on AS Red. As if I'd bet on AS Blue. Really now.

The Line-up:
Gahee - Duh. As if they'd even attempt to put Gahee in Blue - not gonna happen, Pledis. Gahee is the epitome of the entire idea of AS Red, she cannot not be in this sub-group.
Jung Ah - They finally let Jung Ah show off her vocals again after ages. Red is definitely the right subgroup for her, even if I was a bit disappointed with what she got on the song. But I'll get to that later.
Nana - Interesting member choice here. I don't know who else to put in Red either, so I guess Nana will have to do. She isn't that bad, in fact she's a lot better than she was when she first joined, it's just that there are better and more consistent singers in the group. And she tends to sound squeaky.
UEE - What. The. Hell. Why is this girl even in this subgroup. Why. She should be in Blue. Come to think of it, all of the members who weren't in the original line-up, bar Jooyeon because she's always been the useless one, should be in Blue, because basically they turned After School into a cute-fest plus Jung Ah and Gahee. UEE is on the useless side, but maybe we can put her on the cute side to save face. And training fees.

Who should have been included:
I'm not too sure of this myself, to be honest. No one for now.

The Single:
"In The Night Sky"

When I first heard the song, I was rather disappointed because this is hardly sexy or fierce or whatever they'd been telling us that AS Red would be. Of course I wasn't expecting them to strip or pole dance or anything, but for "fierce", this is really tame. Really tame. People have compared it to "Shady Girl" because of the loop and the synths and the talking guy in the background (who I assume is the same guy) and to a certain extent it does sound like the SISTAR song (the only one I can stand, to be honest), but again - it's not plagiarism if a significant part is not a 100% copy of another song. So anyway. After the initial "but this isn't fierce!" stage, it's not a bad song either, and I like it a lot better than the AS Blue song. But then again I hate anything that's in a similar realm to the AS Blue song. The chorus is extremely catchy while keeping a pretty melody throughout the entire song, and it's actually very pleasant to listen to - I've had just this on loop all weekend and I'm not sick of it yet. However, like I said a while ago, I was disappointed with the melody because it didn't give Jung Ah a chance to show off those stunning vocals I know she has, but never get shown. Jung Ah needs something like her "Bang!" verse, only longer - that was what I wanted, and what she needed to prove to everyone that she still has the upper hand in AS when it comes to vocals. But alas, they made her squeaky.

The Performances:
I was really disappointed with the live performances for this. Really disappointed. First you have UEE, who can't sing. At all. Then you have Gahee, who does have a voice, but isn't the most stable singer around. You have Jung Ah, who's singing in a pre-meditated cutesy voice most probably demanded by the agency. And you have Nana who really sings cute and isn't the best live singer either. Such a let-down. They carry themselves really well, even without backup dancers, but I'm afraid they, once again, cannot pull this song off live. PLEASE, Pledis, I beg you - give these girls a song they can actually sing live. For their sake. And your money's sake.

So now that I've laid down all the important points - which side are you on, Red or Blue? I think you know which side I'm on. :D

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