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

19 comments:

  1. Man- I totally keep forgetting Bekah is awol >.< She would've gone in Red like that.

    I don't think Uee is too bad a fit for Red actually- I really don't think she does cute well >.< I mean it's easier to watch her be sexy and prance on stage with her 'honey thighs' than to watch her attempt to be cute >.<

    Aaaand, I am unable to grasp your feelings on Raina. Sometimes I read your posts and it seems like you love her, other times it's like you want her out xP Anyway- Raina is actually my bias so :'D

    I was surprisingly... impressed with the AS Blue stage. I expected it to be one voice cracky mess with spatters of Raina. But, wow. Pledis really knows how to make their artists sound decent.

    AS Red, I don't even- I do agree with you. They dissapointed me the minute the song came out. But that's only because they had Kahi and Jung-ah and I unfairly expected them to blow me away >.<

    Aside from that- I really like the idea of 'Friendly Competition' between the members. xP I think it's a lot of fun. It's more than sub-groups and cutting the group down so that the more underrated members have time to shine- but it's just interesting seeing the members up against eachother so blatantly. idk, I really like it. I wish SM implemented something like this for SNSD (and maybe even SuJu). That would be interesting.

    BTW. Nikki I was wondering if you could explain what you mean by this:
    "- E-Young actually has a voice, Lizzy has a nice timbre but not that much of a voice"

    Noob >.< I thought having a good timbre meant your voice had a good tone. Wouldn't that mean she has a voice? Or can you have a voice and have no timbre whatsoever? I just don't understand what it means Dx

    P.S: Although I'm still iffy about the song- the girls look absolutely gorgeous in both MVs. Just shallow observation xP

    ReplyDelete
  2. Putting aside taste issues, I think blue was okay, if cutesy is what you like. Besides, the live performances looked okay, and they did punch above their weight.

    The issue with red, was probably how it over-sold and under delivered. I kind of expected more from After School, especially Kahi and Jung Ah.

    I said on my blog that I was not a big fan of the song, and got attacked for it, so I do feel your rants.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was looking forward to their sub-units come back and it turned out to be a big disappointment. Not my taste at all.

    anyway. I HAVE A REQUEST. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO A MUSIC SHOW RECAP OF THIS WEEK!!! Music Core, Inkigayo or M!Countdown is fine. Just one. I am currently obsessed with this new rookie band, Boyfriend. They are promoting a new song "You & I" this week (Personally, I think they should have debut this song instead of BOyfriend). I really want to see your point of view on their live for this song. SO PLEASE DO IT!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Both sub-groups were a disappointment and most of all, I still miss Bekah. :( My favourite member is gone.

    Really? UEE in Blue?! I can understand what you mean but if she was, it would be better to leave her out of the sub-groups. Loads of people seem to like AS Blue more than Red, I just think AS need to pick up after Bekah has gone. :/

    In the Night Sky did sound like a SISTAR song but people compared it to How Dare You but then again it's Brave Sound! It's more catchier for me than Wonder Boy.

    I'm not on any side. Plendis should think about this as a reminder that it wasn't a good choice. I really miss songs like Ah!, BANG and Shampoo. And of course, BEKAH!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. A.S Red's live performances were what made me fall in love with ITNS! The song really does grow on you!

    I guess everyone had their expectations for As red too high especially after those damn concept pics and album cover and it being a brave bro prod., since they prod. Most of AS's biggest hits and therefore were immensely disappointed.. At least that's the case for me. Pledis had better get their act together too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I really, really miss Bekah. She would have been PERFECT for afterschool red. *sigh* i agree, the new members are making afterschool a cute fest. I like Nana and Lizzy, raina and e-young are alright, but Uee and Jooyeon? they have to go.

    Appartently, there are three other girls who are trainees at the moment who are going to be future members.....they better be good.

    I like this competition sort of thing, its kind of interesting.

    My bets are on Red because i don't like the overly cute concept of blue. I prefer sexy and fierce please :) but this song by Red was not sexy or fierce at all. I was disappointed.

    I would love to hear more rapping from Nana though, her rapping is adorable.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can't really comment on vocals or technical stuff so I just go by what I think sounds nice. As a casual fan, I was a bit disappointed by the subgroups' songs :(

    To me, After School Blue's song is so very J-pop girl group. It's really cute and high and happy -- it reminds me of Morning Musume (coincidentally, on whom After School's graduation concept is based :D). If people are into that type of music, then AS Blue wins. The exaggerated cutefest that was Orange Caramel worked relatively well with the Korean public so they'll be fine. Still, I'm really not into this type of music O_O If it wasn't AS who did this (if say, Girl's Day did this), I wouldn't care about it at all or maybe even dislike it completely.

    As for AS Red, I just can't like this song. I found it sub-standard and the eh-ehs were rather grating and, like in the case of AS Blue, I wouldn't care if AS Red didn't own the song. The live performances are really really good though. AS just really brings it when performing, they sell their goods so well.

    Lastly, you're back! I missed your reviews :D Whether I agree with you or not, they're always a good read. Sometimes, when I listen to a new song, I think "What would Nikki of PRN say about this?" :)) I know you're busy with school and I understand why you're not updating :) I just want to say I always look forward to your opinion every time something is released :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow, what a comprehensive review of the AS subgroups ^__^ And I agree with most of it too, especially about AS Red lacking the fierceness everyone was expecting it to have. I'm sorry but if it's marketed as fierce, I need it to be fierce. They look hot, they are hot but the song just betrays them sooooo bad. That's how I feel about Sistar -- I think that 3/4 of them can sing well (with Hyorin being some sort of supreme being of technique) and they perform decently but their songs just make them look bad (or maybe I just don't like Brave Sound?). At any rate, this was a disappointment and only my huge Gahi bias is making me enjoy the song and its live performances.

    Glad to see you back, btw :D Great timing too, since there are loads of cool comebacks lately. I know you don't do requests or anything but I think it'd be cool if you did a review on the full albums that came out during this comeback period (Super Junior, Infinite, Miss A etc.). I've been dying to know what you think about them (especially the SJ and Infinite ones, which have been receiving mixed thoughts everywhere). PEACE!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I kinda agree with this article. I'm not too fond of AS Blue because of the overly cute concept. I'm just not a fan of the cutesy image. AS Red failed to impress me because the members sounded all high-pitched and too cute, hurting my ears. The song itself isn't that bad but needs improvement. I was anticipating for the sexy, fierce image and well, it fell flat.

    However, I think blue team did better when it comes to vocals. And eesh, seems to be a lot of Jooyeon and Uee bashing here. I admit they're not the best singers, but really. I do think Uee should be in the cute group, too. In fact, I think Jooyeon and Uee should've switched. I find Jooyeon a better dancer than a singer. Also, when Uee tries to be sexy, her expression ends up looking blank and it's just not... Sexy. At least when she tries to be cute, she smiles and has more emotion.

    I really hope Afterschool has a better comeback. This one wasn't very good to be honest. I don't like how the group keeps splitting like this because it makes me to think might as well create another group and have the new members in instead. I get the whole graduation concept but no one's really graduating. Only Bekah did, and I don't count SoYoung since she dropped out. .__.

    ReplyDelete
  10. uee is suppose to be in the red group lol because she was there to train nana and the the other one lol i don't think you have all the information down lol i feel your just saying what on your mind

    ReplyDelete
  11. i think you need to go back and read your resource for every damn singer beause your wrong that quite embarrassing for you able to write a whole blog about this when you have know idea what your talking about lol beause did you know that Uee was there in the begining and she had to train nana and e young because Beakah and soyoung left and so i would get resource right and i would wacth a few more strong heart episdoe and allkpop because it all in there kahi was explaiing in strong heart that uee had to teach the necomers how to dance and clean up the older get to take a rest and the younger one not even the maknae has to go and clean up also Uee cannot be in the sub because kahi that how you spell her name lol not gahee if you saw the album cover you would know even though on wikipedia show gahee after kahi like Uee so that why she in the red team and she good at dancing yet i have to say that the hollywood song is not good and both of the after school blue song are better but they don't have that much oringinalty because it sound like Girl Day, SNSD, SECRET,and also A pink Please wacth and read the info before you write somthing that make no sense also i thought these were not statement i felt that they were only your opinions and don't get me wrong opinions can be false but statement will always be the true because there from Kahi the leader lol and also you need to have evidence to back up the story that your trying to say if your trying to state and opinion that all i'm saying and i learn this from a MLA FORMAT at my school so i know i'm right about that Evidence lol don't be mad at me i'm just saying it because i care and i want you to change your writing skill don't write to write but write to open your mind and make everthing open love your

    STAFF

    Oh yes i fouund your blog lol hehe

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just want to say something UEE cannot go it is because she the one who goes to the most variety show and also she is the one training all of the newcomers that come in so that why she can't and the manager like her because she has a interesting voice and plus Kahi or Gahee like Uee so it will be hard to let her go i personally hated her in the beginning but now i don't i like her she cute and really nice!!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh my god the last three posts did absolutely nothing to re-inforce why Uee should've been in rated according to them. I personally agree that Uee's voice register fits AS Blue much more comfortably than in Red.

    Her training the E-Young and Nana and everything Anonymous said had nothing to do with ANYTHING ABOUT THIS REVIEW. My Gosh.

    Lovely review btw Nikki :) This is the site I go to for the latest K-pop reviews, and even though I understand why your currently MIA, I miss your posts. :(

    They gave me something to look forward to every time a new single was released.... Btw have you heard The Saturdays and Sugababes new singles?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm SLOW. BUT why do they have afer school red and after school blue? Are they not together anymore?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi, really enjoy reading your blog and your reviews on kpop.
    However, I am really curious on how you are able to tell whether a person can sing or not. Personally for me, i only know as long as one can hold a note or do not go offtune, one can be considered a good/decent singer...which i feel in comparison to the way you judge is kind of a weak perspective towards judging whether one can or cannot sing.
    It would be nice if you can show me a few tips of judging whether one can sing or not, or write a post about it...so that maybe in the same way i can somewhat understand where you are coming from(=

    ReplyDelete
  16. @bubsbubsoohlala: Apart from the points you mentioned - being able to hold a melody and staying in tune - it's all down to personal taste, I believe. Different people look for different things, however majority look for strong, clear and competent voices. Or at least that's how I see it. For further explanation, please refer to my vocal commentaries, and http://popreviewsnow.blogspot.com/2009/10/vocal-commentaries-terminology-how-i.html :D

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm confused; are you a fan of Afterschool or not?

    ReplyDelete
  18. @nikki thanks so much!!(=

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lee said:

    The mere reason why groups are being divided into sub group is for others to have more lines, appearance and focus. I actually don't know why it is a norm in Korean industry to have as much members in a group then form a sub groups.
    The only thing I notice is that members of AS Red are the 4 tallest members and the rest for AS blue.That simple, I did not even think as deep as you guys did.
    According to a Korean press, AS red are the older ones and AS blue are the younger ones but Nana on Red and Joyeon on blue? Hehe

    ReplyDelete

Want to share any of your thoughts on the above post? Drop a comment here! I read all comments and reply occasionally, especially if you have specific questions for me. :D

Note that comments are moderated. Spam, self-advertising (K-Pop-related and otherwise) and overly vulgar submissions will NOT be accepted. If you want me to promote/endorse/follow/link to your site, please e-mail me at popreviewsnow@gmail.com instead.

 

Recent Tweets

Like Pop Reviews Now on Facebook!

Statistics (Since May 2009)

Blog Archive

You're reading an award-winning blog

The K-Pop Writers' Workshop


A workshop for writers of critical pieces on Korean entertainment -- formal reviews, expository essays/Op-eds, and personal essays/Creative Non-Fiction.
Learn from the best in K-Ent writing