Having been a follower of K-pop for 10 years, over time I have molded my interests into a certain niche, and have also noticed that I don’t meet some of the ideologies of a typical K-pop fan. Through this new segment, I would like to expose some new thoughts and ideas to you guys. Sometimes it’s hard to stand your ground against the  K-pop hivemind of fans that likes to persistently shove certain ideologies (like OMG [insert group] IS THE BEST BAND EVERRRR!!!) down people’s throats until you can’t take it anymore. No worries, I am here to represent the 99%!

Okay I’m just kidding about the 99% part, but I do have some things that I want to get off my chest about certain groups and opinions. To kick things off for this edition, I decided to pick one of my favorites, After School.

I Love After School’s  “Shampoo”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OSmITtaX3o&w=560&h=315]

When After School released the title for the track “Shampoo,” off their Virgin album, many people immediately thought WTF, what kind of title track name is “Shampoo?” I happened to also think this as well, but when “Shampoo” was released I was not only relieved that it wasn’t some wacky song, but it even became my favorite song of the year. However, I seemed to be in the minority. Many people complained about this song not having as much “punch” as “Because Of You,” but we also have to remember that “Shampoo” is not supposed to be full of as much angst.

Most people expect After School to always have in-your-face sexy kinds of concepts, and for the most part After School delivers just that, but for their last Korean concept, After School opted to go a different route, which I have no qualms with. It gets annoying how frequently people expect not only After School but also other groups to constantly have in your face “fierce” concepts; I prefer seeing other things as well because similar concepts become stagnant, fast. “Shampoo” is supposed to be graceful and sophisticated, and personally I think they delivered it well.

I Like Orange Caramel

Before you grab your pitchforks, just hear me out. The concept of Orange Caramel is supposed to be One Asia, in which they pick songs for each promotion period that represent a different city (such as Bangkok and Shanghai), but let’s get serious now: Orange Caramel is not known for their true concept, but rather  for their diabetes-inducing cuteness and aegyo… and you know what, they make it work! The members of Orange Caramel know that this sub-group isn’t really going to have any of the fierceness that After School has; rather, this group was made to put on a cosplay show. They have covered dolls, fairytale heroes, party girls, and even Bruce Lee. In the world of K-pop it is all too easy to phase out of sight because there is an over-saturation of groups, but Orange Caramel is able to stand out because they have an image that sticks above the crowd. Regardless of what song they release, they will grab your attention (especially with “Magic Girl” and “Aing”), and at the end of the day, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Orange Caramel is definitely not something that the foreign listeners would really like to listen to — in fact I feel like they are the complete opposite of what international K-pop listeners would ideally want in a group. However, Orange Caramel’s target market is clearly not for Westerners; the main target for Orange Caramel is children between the ages of 6 to 14 and the MOGEF. A side target market for Orange Caramel is single women at weddings (for some reason, single women like to perform “Magic Girl” at Korean weddings — I have personally seen this in the last wedding that I went to). But I guess I’m weird because I happen to like Orange Caramel and I don’t fit the 6-14 range or the single lady criteria (or a girl for that matter), so my opinion among my peers in my demographic may be rare indeed, but I regret nothing.

I Preferred After School Blue Over After School Red

When Pledis revealed that After School was going to split into two for After School Blue and Red, I was rooting for Red because my favorite two members, Nana and Kahi, were going to be in that group.  When each of their title songs came out, lets just say that I switched my preference to After School Blue. Brave Brothers collaborated with After School Red’s single “In the Night Sky” and I was expecting another good song, but when it actually came out, I was horrified on how lackadaisical the song was. I don’t think I have ever been so disappointed in Brave Brothers for butchering a song like this, and I can only hope that they won’t butcher another song for After School ever again. After School Blue’s title song “Wonder Boy” on the other hand was a pleasant surprise. The song reminded me of Fin.K.L and gave me nostalgia. It was no contest in terms of which song I thought was better, but since people can be and a lot of times are blinded by their biases, they will pick their bias regardless of quality of the material (like *cough our polls cough*).

Jung-Ah Needs Raina and Raina Needs Jung-Ah

When “Diva” was released on April 9, 2009 I almost cringed when Jung-Ah was reaching for those high notes. I’m not a music major by any means, but just from my own ears it seemed like her voice was stretching out of the comfort zone. When “Because of You” came out, I was glad that there was a new lead singer because it seemed like Jung-Ah needed some help carrying After School’s vocals since she was the only one mainly contributing while the other “vocalists” were dead weight.

Raina filled in the position quite well in “Because of You,” and I was satisfied by her singing for a while, but as time went by it seemed that like Jung-Ah, Raina’s voice had begun to thin out as well. Fortunately, for “Shampoo,” Raina and Jung-Ah helped each other out on the high notes. In the end, Jung-Ah returned the favor for Raina, which to me shows that they need each other.

These are my unpopular opinions about After School. What do you guys think? Do you agree with my thoughts? If you have other thoughts or unpopular opinions about After School feel free to leave them in the comments section. Also, feel free to make suggestions on who should be next be featured on this segment, and perhaps I can fulfill your requests.

(LOEN, sokayi2001)