Wednesday, 27 July 2011

27 July 2011 ‘The 4th Single Album’ by After School RED Review

Dividing K-Pop groups into units is nothing out of the ordinary; it’s a maneuver that entertainment agencies have taken part in for many years. The latest act to be axed in half is girl group After School, who split into two four-member units: After School Blue and After School Red.

Both units have made it clear that each will exude, perform, and sell two distinct concepts. AS Blue – Jooyeon,E-Young, Lizzy, and Raina – are to enliven their audience with a cute and bright concept (a la Orange Caramel), while AS Red – Jung Ah, Kahi, Nana, and Uee – are responsible for bringing a fierce and sexy sound to the table.

Track List:
01. In The Night Sky
02. Hollywood

A concept promising ‘fierceness‘ prior to any audio release to back up that claim ultimately led to AS Red’s underwhelming performance this season. Simply put, After School knows how to do fierce and they know how to do sweet, so expecting a sub-unit with the proper members to fit the ’strong and sexy’ bill almost seemed like it would be a cinch for these ladies. In fact, these four members of AS Red have the right fragments to piece together one hell of a pop group machine.

Playing through AS Red’s ‘4th Single Album‘, however, tells a very different story. But what could have possibly thrown this apparatus out of sync? Two words: the songs.

As pop music enthusiasts, everyone has, more or less, a specific yet similar perception of what ‘fierceness’ entails. So the moment AS Red’s “In The Night Sky” hit the web, it did the exact opposite of what was expected – it underwhelmed across the board.

Brave Brothers is notorious for laying down hoards of beats for K-Pop companies to scoop up and distribute like hot cakes, but what’s occurred over the past year is an over-abundance of the same sound. The ‘Brave Sound’ is recognizable, and that in itself is commendable, but rather than using that recognition as leverage to progress, Brave Brothers has abused (a word I use loosely) the celebrity status of his songs to clog the K-Pop music scene. The growth of Brave Brothers’ production style is minute, with “In The Night Sky” as the perfect example.

“In The Night Sky” almost feels inferior for After School. And yet, here they are, singing it because they have to. Disregarding the mere fact that it doesn’t give an ounce of power or strength as intended for this girl group, the song is structurally weak, and composition-wise, unbelievably vapid.

The biggest disappointment lies in how Jungah finally received this opportunity to explode as the lead vocalist, but instead, was left with these choppy phrases with little-to-no moments of actual singing. Kahi is also restricted to sounding extra chipmunk-y, when she could perform at a far more compelling level.

There’s a slight disjointed feeling in this song, and there are place where it holds back from going anywhere exciting (like in the chorus, which could have shaken “In The Night Sky” out of its slumber by using a different key and time signature to elevate it from the congested phrasing of the lyrics). It’s an uninteresting song that’s too watered down for a girl group who could easily take on music with ten times the energy, and that’s the real frustration with this song. Brave Brothers didn’t play to AS Red’s strengths, nor take advantage of how he had a fraction of the girl group to work with, rather than the full eight-member ensemble.

“Hollywood” translates most of the same sentiment from the lead single, only the difference here is that this one makes more sense as a song. It’s a mid-tempo, pop-tastic number that has playful instrumentals, as well as glimmering melodies and phrases. That being said, it also highlights one After School tendency that plagues most of their music.

After School habitually blends high-energy instrumentals with over-indulgent vocal sections that end up drowning some songs altogether. After School tends to whisper and sing through verses at a very slow pace, and while it allows them to look sensual and graceful in music videos and live stages, focusing on aesthetics brings down the musicality of their songs. “Hollywood” is just too airy of a song, especially sitting right next to “In The Night Sky”, which doesn’t differ much in vocal performance.


AS Red sound lovely, but they forgot their ‘fierceness’ at home. These songs are too light in production and not heavy enough to be memorable. There’s a considerable amount of power and force missing, and with members like Kahi in his midst, Brave Brothers definitely missed his mark with this one. The visual aspects of pop performance out-trumped the vital piece of that equation – the music.

These songs are forgettable and don’t push AS Red into any new direction that we haven’t seen After School in before. And that’s the point of sub-units – to lay down a distinguished, innovative, and most importantly, a different musical approach to what a group is known for.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

What are your thoughts on After School Red’s 4th Single Album?

Suggestions for a future review? Hit the author up on Twitter (@rothsresidence) or via e-mail (!

Rating Overview:

0 – 1.9 ; poor, without any redeeming qualities
2.0 – 2.9 ; mediocre, but with some saving graces
3.0 – 3.9 ; good, with noteworthy highs and lows
4.0 – 4.9 ; excellent, with minimal flaws
5 ; superior, and as near to perfection as the song/album can be

Note: This article does not reflect the opinions of allkpop, only of the author.

Credit: Allkpop

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