Single Review: After School – “너 때문에”

Tracklist:
1. 너 때문에 (Neo Ddaemune; Because of You)
2. When I Fall
3. Diva
4. 너 때문에 (Inst.)

This is After School’s second single, which was released on November 23, 2009.

Aw, they’re holding teddy bears. That’s cute.

~

너 때문에 starts off with a twinkling piano line and some hushed vocals, leading the listener to believe it’ll be a ballad, and then springs to life with lively synths and a slightly shout-y rap verse. It’s a very contemporary song with high high high production quality and a decent amount of autotune, but it still retains its power and sentimentality through the vocals. Each girl has a distinct voice, so you can tell you’re listening to a different person each time. A couple of them have excellent voices, too.

Another R&B track, When I Fall is quite pretty and very American. The music consists of a mainstream beat and acoustic guitars, with some vibrant synths every now and then. The vocals are good in an average sort of way, but they don’t reach their apex until the end, near the final chorus. There’s some English thrown in there, but it sounds well-placed and pronounced perfectly. Overall, the song is pretty mediocre, but it’s still pleasant and very listenable.

Okay, so…Diva. Take every energetic, cutesy, and overly-synthed song by a K-Pop girl group you’ve ever heard and you pretty much have this song. I tried to like it, but I couldn’t get past the fact that this song is basically the audial equivalent of a seizure. Final verdict: hot mess.

Summary: After School are a rookie K-Pop girl group – like we don’t have enough of those already – who have a very mainstream sound. This is the description I’d give to two out of three of the songs on this single (Diva and When I Fall): mainstream, and to some extent, forgettable. Appropriately, the standout track on this single is the A-side, whose lovely and emotional sound becomes the sole redeeming quality of an otherwise mundane release.

Single Grade: B

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