Let’s go back to the past with some K-pop releases!
Lately, I’ve found myself going down a gigantic hole of old K-pop jams that I got myself into back in the golden age, when groups like 2NE1, 4minute, SNSD, and After School held reign. Today, I’ll be looking at the latter, a group that is officially one member in size and is unofficially disbanded, originally designed to be like SK’s ‘Pussycat Dolls’ before trading that concept to be SK’s ‘Morning Musume.’ instead (you heard that right). After School had a stellar debut, but with the addition of two new members Nana and Reina, the sassy girls made an even bigger splash with the raindrops of “Because of You“. With the switch from fun concepts to one of heartbreak, is this single worth crying (joyful) tears over or is it because of this single that your heart is broken?
Because of You
Romanization: Neo Ttaemune
If I was to listen to this back in 2009, I’d probably be a little harder on the song upon first listen, but almost twelve years later, “Because of You” has become something of an anomaly. It is remarkably of its time, with its elements of Auto-Tune masking certain vocalists, the heavy onset of rap streamed throughout its somber melody, and the trademark Brave Brothers ‘Brave Sound’ that took K-pop by storm at the coming of 2010. Yet, it’s the combination of these elements, matched with the interspersed but incredible vocals of Raina and JungAh, the introductory whispers from Kahi, Bekah’s unique rap tone, and the rainy, sad, but almost electronic sound of the song, that really gives this song its own. It solidified After School as a force in K-pop, and because of that, “Because of You” deserves its five stars. ⬛
“When I Fall” is the other ‘new’ track on the single, which goes for a guitar-driven ballad that feels very of its time, except that it doesn’t quite have the oomph or power that “Because of You” has. It’s a very cookie-cutter Western pop ballad that contains a hard-hitting drum beat to accent the instrumental, and it is a nice, soothing listen. Here, there’s no Auto-Tune, and so there’s a huge reliance on vocal ability. After School is gifted with some great singers, so it shows in the song. That said, I never find myself reaching out to this song out of voluntary listen, even after eleven years. When I’ll fall in love with this song, I’m not sure, but “When I Fall” is still pretty good for a listen or two. ⬛
I love my boy! And I love this song! “Diva“, released prior as its own single, is what got me into After School, and it is a fun heavy-electro dance track, produced by Brave Brothers with that trademark robo-intro. With its incredibly Eurodance elements, “Diva” was unique at its time. The song is also reliant on rap verses all throughout, with Bekah and Kahi delivering at the unique tones and speeds to amp up the girl-crush appeal that 2009 was beginning to offer towards the end. Admittedly, it’s less badass than that of their debut track “AH”, but what it lacks in badass-ery is delivered in more of a joyful, fun feel. Fitting for the club trends of the late 00s, “Diva” will have you feeling like one. ⬛
Oh yeah, I recommend this all the way. Ignoring “When I Fall”, “Because of You” and “Diva” really make up how good After School was in their growing prime, delivering a single that flipped their prior concepts over to show their range as fierce performers in the golden age of K-pop. Both songs are filled with replay value to this day, and with “Because of You” and its somber, reminiscing melody, it only adds to the nostalgia and fondness of going back in time. The success from this single alone is telling of how greatly crafted the title track is, and “Diva” continues to remain a bop of its time. Because of this single, I’ve had some great times with K-pop and After School.
MUST-LISTEN: 너 때문에, Diva
For more After School reviews, visit the archive!