An Album a Day is my exploration into the Korean music scene. This podcast will cover mainstream, indie and some underground artists within the scene and provide both factual and opinionated commentary. The biggest benefit to sharing my thoughts this way is that it will hopefully expose you to more great music and exploration of your own.
[Intro] It’s #Kpop4ClimateCrisis day on social media! I encourage you to check out the hashtag on Twitter today and chime in with how you’re helping to protect our planet and various communities, too. November 25, 2009, ten months after their debut, After School made their first Korean comeback and things were definitely different. Disc number two, right after the drop.
You’re tuned into An Album a Day. Show start.
Hey y’all, at this point in their timeline, After School has three mini album little single thingy-thangs under their belt -- two for South Korean audiences -- and seven months prior to the release of “Because of You,” their Japanese debut album. In fact, single albums “Diva” and “Because of You” are A and B Sides. This simply means that one version of the recordings was intended for priority promotions, whereas the second set of recordings were substantial enough to stand on their own. Instead of one album, it simply works to create two separate colors. A and B Sides aren’t quite an album repackaging or re-issue either, as the two separate projects don’t build upon the same musicality and themes. Nonetheless, since the two are closely related, we are looking at both now.
First up, “Diva,” which was colorful and playful in promotions and tone. The process of bringing in new members began as well, with the introduction of Uee. Member Soyoung would grace the stage with the group for the last time as well, as she’d “graduate” to move into acting. If you’re in the group of Dream High fans, she was a part of Dream High 2 in 2012. You’ll hear me reference this drama again in the distant future when we make our way towards duo JJ Project. “Diva” was the entirety of the Korean promo, as more focus was put on debuting the ladies for the Japanese market with the other features on the album. Because of this, we won’t rank one song but instead put it together with its counterpart. Let’s have a quick message from our sponsors first.
Our second single album “Because of You” introduced two new members -- Raina and Nana -- and a more mature look, although still sexy. The women owned black and white attire for this album’s promotion and noticed how I didn’t say “wore”? They owned the look! The single album had the title track “Because of You,” “When I Fall,” “Diva,” and an instrumental of the title track, clocking in at just over 14 minutes all together.
Vocal arrangements actually advanced with this album, especially on “When I Fall.” The song is undeniably pop and recalls some of the production arrangements of Ne-Yo, Rihanna, and Beyonce on the American pop front. Of the short track list, this was the standout song for me. Just as quickly as the first two songs set you in a mood, “Diva” kicks on and gets you moving in a different direction. It’s fully understandable why these were divided into an A and B side -- you can either feel soulful and sultry or like you’re at a pep rally. Both moods work.
K-pop fans on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being essential listening and 1 not worth mentioning, the A3Day rating on this -- our first A & B side experience, basically -- is a 5. That 5 rests heavily on the shoulders of “Because of You” and “When I Fall,” and there’s nothing wrong with that. Hearing the definitive moment when a group shows you another facet of their colors so well is definitely essential listening. I’ll catch you in the next episode, bye y’all.
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