AFTERSCHOOL – BEST

March 31, 2015 at 10:23 PM | Posted in After School | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
AFTERSCHOOL – BEST

1. Bang!
2. DIVA
3. Rambling girls
4. Because of you
5. Just in time
6. Lady Luck
7. Dilly Dally
8. SLOW LOVE
9. Heaven
10. Shh
11. Ms. Independent
12. SHINE
13. Bang! [Alternate Ver.]
14. DIVA [Alternate Ver.]
15. Because of you [Alternate Ver.]
16. Just in time [Alternate Ver.]
17. Tell me [Alternate Ver.]
18. Heaven [Shinichi Osawa REMIX]
19. FLASHBACK [OTOGLIOD REMIX]

♦ ♦ ♦

BEST is the second Japanese best album by South Korean girl group AFTERSCHOOL, released on March 18, 2015. The album peaked at #8 on the Oricon charts and has sold 5,643 copies to date.

I love reviewing best albums because they’re a perfect way to show off an artist’s or group’s timeline. Bang! starts the Japanese timeline of AFTERSCHOOL, and it was apparent they still had to get into the Japanese language. A little more confidence would’ve been amazing and I’m a little bit too much used to the original Korean version (Bekah did a much better rap there as well than the one who replaced her here). Other than that, this remains one of my fave AS songs, albeit in Korean please.

Now DIVA is where the girls have found their voice and the differences from the Korean versions are huge. The music relies more on electropop instead of a cuter vibe that was heard previously and the entire song has had a mature makeover. I think I like this version more, it has great energy! Still, kinda hate that ‘I love my boy‘ line at the beginning, what’s the point of that anyway.

Rambling girls was their very first original Japanese song and it stays true to the electropop genre they had created for themselves on the Japanese market. It’s what I’ve always been used to when it comes to AS music: catchy as heck. The chorus is mostly made up of ~la la la~’s, but that’s what makes it so memorable.

The Korean song ‘Neo Ttaemune’ had a Japanese makeover into Because of you, and I instantly noted how all the vocals (including Kahi’s raps in the verses) felt more into place because they sounded much lighter. This song does kind of struggle to be either a ballad or an uptempo song, so I’ve decided it’s pretty much both. I still love it after three years!

Just in time wasn’t released as a single, so I actually had to look up really fast where it’s from. It was actually on the PLAYGIRLZ album, I completely forgot about it. Perhaps it’s because it’s not as special as the previous couple of songs and it’s quite a generic R&B/pop song with some electropop influences. Very soft and forgettable if you ask me.

Oh my gosh it’s here, one of my favorite AS songs! Call me crazy, but I totally adore Lady Luck because of its light and uplifting melodies and cuter quality (they hadn’t done that before in Japanese releases). The synths did give it a bit more spunk, but it’s girly at its best. So, sorry boys, not your cup of tea, I’m sure 😉

Dilly Dally is another great song that should’ve been on an album (I really don’t know why none of the Lady Luck / Dilly Dally single songs were represented on an album). It’s one of the more fierce AS songs with amazing and edgy vocals and danceable beats, the chorus is bound to stay in your head all day.. Sounds like the formula for a perfect AS song to me?

I remember appreciating SLOW LOVE so much because it was so different from what they had released in Japan up until then. Most of all, the girls get a lot more room here to actually perform than rather serve the energetic musical arrangement, so that’s a plus. Also, they tackle the R&B ballad genre very well here. Very pleasant song to listen to.

Officially entering the latest era, there is the funky Heaven. It draws similarity to Bruno Mars’ latest work (including ‘Treasure’ and ‘Uptown Funk’), although it’s catchy in a more humble kind of way. It’s sort of 70s sounding with its bass and groovy guitar riffs, different but I love it.

From 70s to 80s, Shh bares more resemblance to 80s synthpop (something I don’t hear very often in Japan). It seems as if AS went for a little more variety after their first era, also their vocals sound even more mature and sultry, it suits them so well! What an amazing change compared to, for example, Bang!.

Another new sound for the girls was introduced with Ms. Independent, a track on their latest Japanese studio album ‘Dress to kill’ (which, by the way, I didn’t like all that much). Following more of a House music arrangement, and although it can be a little repetitive at times it really pumps up the jam a lot. Enjoyable nonetheless!

Wow, SHINE was released just a few months ago and I’m pretty sure it was just for this best album. It sounds like no other song here and I mean that in the most positive way. It has the most beautiful and uplifting melody and from the beginning I’m sure this is probably the best AS ballad track I have ever heard. Very much my style, I’m in love with this song!

I’m gonna skip most of the ‘alternate versions’ on the tracklist, since they’re actually quite the same as the original. If someone could just point out to me which note they changed (xD), that would be great. Anyway, I haven’t heard Tell me [Alternate Ver.] here yet (in any form). It was the closing song for the ‘PLAYGIRLZ’ album and I remember loving its light and almost angelic R&B sound. It’s one of those simple yet very effective songs because it’s solid at the same time. I still like it as much as I did before.

What a treat, two remixes. Heaven [Shinichi Osawa REMIX] actually starts off pretty annoying, so I’m bound to take that last comment back. The remix strips away everything that I love about the original song, the funky arrangement is gone and it is replaced by a repetitive and empty dance track. I don’t even wanna talk about it.

The original song wasn’t even on the album, but we do get a remix: FLASHBACK [OTOGLIOD REMIX]. I can barely make out the vocals due to the loud dance music, but other than that this remix actually makes sense. It’s pretty fierce and it kicks butt like no other, so even though I’m not too fond of dance music I can actually appreciate this take on the (already very good) song!

So it was very interesting for me to check out this BEST album (I often get the question why I review best albums), because you can actually see where an artist or group came from and where they are now. AS started off in the Japanese music industry as some insecure girls who released some self covers, but then discovered their true spirit. Most of the time they did stick to electropop music, but every once in a while they released something completely different. Most of the A-sides where that different, and they are represented here which I love. They do release more generic songs on their albums if you ask me, but that just means that this album is just what it says on the tin: their best Japanese music on one disc. Enjoy!

Favorite tracks: Bang! | Because of you | Lady Luck | Dilly Dally | SLOW LOVE | Heaven | Shh | SHINE | FLASHBACK [OTOGLIOD REMIX]

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarblankstar
4 stars

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