The After School Discography Rate • FINISHED

he/him
Wonder boy and Lady outlasting a slew of perfectly good ballads ...
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As they should! Especially Wonder Boy.
 
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#51
Let's Step Up

Grade: 7.395
Honor roll: 10×1 (@eatyourself), 9×4 (@singabob, @roblognick, @Macsun, @Mikl C), 8.5×3 (@Crisp X, @Slice of Life, @BEST FICTION)
Drop-outs: 3×1 (@Hurricane Drunk), 4×1 (@chrisjche), 5×1 (@Vixen)
@Love Deluxe's score: 8
@vague's score: 7.75

5 ballots: #57, 7.850 avg.
10 ballots: #42, 7.975 avg.
15 ballots: #48, 7.583 avg.
20 ballots: #50, 7.463 avg.
25 ballots: #50, 7.430 avg.
31 ballots: #51, 7.395 avg.

"Let's Step Up" is the intro track from After School's first Korean album, VIRGIN, released on April 28, 2011. The track's lyrics were written by Bekah, and it was composed and arranged by Gong Hyunsik and Jang Junho. "Let's Step Up" was promoted on music shows alongside "Shampoo" during the single's first week of stages.

A music video continuing the storyline from "Shampoo" and showcasing After School's tap choreography was produced for "Let's Step Up". For its Japanese release, "Let's Step Up" was remixed and retitled "Tap Slap"; this version was included only on the limited CD+DVD A edition of their second Japanese single, Diva (Japan Ver.), released on November 23, 2011.

At the time of release, "Let's Step Up" seemed to create more buzz and headlines than the album's title track, "Shampoo". After School managed to receive praise from tap dancing professionals, battle plagiarism accusations, and even crack the tempered glass of the Music Bank stage.

In an interview with Elle Girl Korea, Raina called "Let's Step Up" the group's "secret weapon". With "Shampoo" being the lead single, it was the first time After School had made such a drastic shift in image, but "Let's Step Up" was their way of sprinkling in hints of their previous identity.​

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After School began practicing tap dancing in November 2010, and it was a six-month-long process. After learning how to play drums for "뱅(Bang)!" promotions in 2010, "Let's Step Up" would continue the trend of After School learning a new skill for each comeback. In a November 2011 interview with Oricon, Nana revealed: "After the drum practice was toned down a little, we started on the tap dance, but as opposed to using your hands with the drums, you only use your feet for tap, so even walking normally was a chore for a while. (laughs bitterly) The back and forth movements were intense, too, so we got bruises. And on top of that, we had to sing at the same time. Just thinking back on it now makes me realize how difficult it was, but I think it shows how hard we've worked."

With their grueling training schedule, member Bekah was injured while practicing the tap routine and was unfortunately unable to participate in the comeback stages or MV filming for "Let's Step Up". In a May 2011 interview with Sports Chosun, Bekah elaborated on her injury: "I injured my ankle last year, which was why I was in the States. I recently injured it again during practice and wasn't able to recover enough to perform our step dance routine. It requires surgery, but my schedule overlapped with our comeback, so I had to push back my surgery date. I'm currently taking medication and am feeling better. It's upsetting that I wasn't able to join the dance since I worked hard for it, but it's okay because I'm able to rap on stage ... It's been nearly a year since I've last stood on stage, so I'm both nervous and happy. I promise to work hard from here on out."

After School practiced multiple iterations of "Let's Step Up" - both the choreography and the song itself - before the song and routine were finalized. In this practice video, there are unreleased verses from Bekah in addition to scrapped dance moves that never made the final, released version.

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(8) — "Imagine being the downstairs neighbor of an After School stan that was trying to copy this dance."

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(7.75) — "In elementary school, I took tap lessons for about two hours and I'm still traumatized. I have nothing but respect for these ladies and all the work they put into their intro songs omg."​



@eatyourself (10) — "You hear that? It's the sound of history being written. It deserves a 10 because it perfectly does its job as an intro."

@singabob (9) — "Is this the best intro to an album ever?? I think so!"

@roblognick (9) — "Makes Let's do it! redundant really doesn't it?"

@Macsun (9) — "Now this is how you do an intro!! The anticipation listening to do this when you know Shampoo is to follow..."

@M24 (8) — "Probably their best intro, I love the beat and the tap dancing is iconic."

@Wills (7) — "Whew this sure gets me pumped to listen to an album full of ballads."

@KimLippington (6.75) — "Come on Happy Feet!"

@berserkboi (6.5) — "There's probably a context for this that makes it work - but since I don't have that context, I can only see it as weaker than what else they've offered so far!"

@eyeline (6) — "Their commitment to their concepts was truly everything."

@Cotton Park (5.5) — "We were a drumline and now... we're tapping! What's next? Poledancing?"​








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After cutting "Let's Step Up", we've now eliminated another ten songs~

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60 Dream (feat. Pre-School Girl YoonJo) ━ 7.153
59 Dreams Again! ━ 7.185
58 일주일 (Week) ━ 7.194
57 Someone is you ━ 7.226
56 Tell me — 7.250
55 Play Ur Love — 7.355
54 Let's do it! — 7.371
53 나쁜놈 (Bad Guy) — 7.379
52 Funky Man (feat. Pre-School Girl KyungMin) — 7.387
51 Let's Step Up — 7.395



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「New Schoolgirl」

PLAY GIRLZ
AH
나쁜놈 (Bad Guy)



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「아몰레드 (AMOLED)」

아몰레드 (AMOLED) (with Son Dambi)



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「너 때문에」

너 때문에 (Because of you)
When I Fall
Diva



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「BANG!」

Let's do it!
뱅(Bang)!
With U



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Happy pledis

LOVE LOVE LOVE
Someone is you




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「VIRGIN」

Let's Step Up
Shampoo
Virgin
Play Ur Love
Dream (feat. Pre-School Girl Yoonjo)
시간에 기대어 (Depend on Time)
잘 지내고 있죠 (Nothing to complain of)
Funky Man (feat. Pre-School Girl Kyungmin)
My Bell

When I Fall (2011 New Recordings)



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「BLUE」+「RED」

원더보이 (Wonder boy)
Lady

밤 하늘에 (In the night sky)
HOLLYWOOD



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「HAPPY PLEDIS 2012」

LOVE LETTER
겨울 이야기 (Winter Story)



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「PLAYGIRLZ」

Rip off
Rambling girls
BROKEN HEART feat. Jung-A, Raina, Nana, E-Young
Diva (Japan Ver.)
Just in time
Gimme Love
Because of you (Japan Ver.)
Miss Futuristic feat. Kahi, Juyeon, U-ie, Lizzy
Bang! (Japan Ver.)
Tell me



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「Lady Luck / Dilly Dally」

Lady Luck
Dilly Dally
SLOW LOVE



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「FLASHBACK」

FLASHBACK
Eyeline (透視 / 투시)
손목시계 (Watch)
Timeless



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「첫사랑」

8 hot girl
첫사랑 (First Love)
Dressing Room
Time's up
Love Beat
화장을 하다 울었어 (Make up & tears)



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일주일

일주일 (Week)



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「Dress to kill」

Dress to kill
Ms.Independent
Triangle
Crazy Driver
Shh
Yes No Yes
Heaven
in the moonlight
rock it!
Spotlight
Lucky Girl



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「SHINE」

SHINE



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「Extras」

Dream Girl
Dreams Again!
make it happen (with Amuro Namie)
Take me to the place
Super sexy
Ready to love


We'll be losing four singles as well as our first 11 within the next ten eliminations.
 
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#50
SLOW LOVE

Grade: 7.403
Honor roll: 10×4 (@RUNAWAY, @Macsun, @Love Deluxe, @vague), 9.5×1 (@Oleander), 9×2 (@yuuurei, @KimLippington)
Drop-outs: 4×1 (@Hurricane Drunk), 5×4 (@roblognick, @chrisjche, @eyeline, @Conan), 5.25×1 (@singabob)
@Love Deluxe's score: 10
@vague's score: 10

5 ballots: #35, 8.600 avg.
10 ballots: #50, 7.650 avg.
15 ballots: #52, 7.467 avg.
20 ballots: #52, 7.425 avg.
25 ballots: #53, 7.370 avg.
31 ballots: #50, 7.403 avg.

"SLOW LOVE" is the third track from After School's fourth Japanese single, Lady Luck / Dilly Dally, released on June 13, 2012. Its lyrics were written by Kenn Kato and it was composed and arranged by Yasushi Watanabe. "SLOW LOVE" was selected as the CM song for LIXIL Eyeful Home's spring 2012 campaign starring Japanese actress Matsushita Nao.

"SLOW LOVE" was initially released as a CD-only bonus track on the standard edition of the Lady Luck / Dilly Dally single, but was also later included on After School's final release, BEST, on March 18, 2015. It was the only b-side included on the compilation.

After School performed "SLOW LOVE" on certain dates of their first Japanese tour in 2012, but it was not filmed for the concert's video release. It was also performed as the final song at their Japanese fan meeting on August 24, 2013; that show was included on the limited CD+DVD edition of their second Japanese album, Dress to kill.

With this being the final song on Kahi's final release with After School, this is technically her swan song. "SLOW LOVE" feels a bit like an ode to Kahi; the lyrics are fitting for her time in the group and she even takes the lead in the last line of the song.

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(10) — "This is easily their most intimate song, no? Love how distinctly J-Pop this sounds, definitely brings me back to the heydays of melody., Maki Goto, and Yuna Ito. SLOW LOVE manages to tread the line of being delicate but not too sparse, and sweet but not too saccharine. Raina & Nana's middle 8 has to be one of the prettiest moments in their discography. Also serves as a nice bookend to Kahi's time in the group. I don't think I was completely taken with SLOW LOVE when this single release first came out (was too enamored with Dilly Dally), but it's a song that's snuck up on me over the years and is solidly in my top 10."

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(10) — "This was my 20 pointer in @Serg.'s k-pop b-sides rate last year, so needless to say this is one of my favorites from After School. I've always found this song so gorgeous and, like @Love Deluxe already mentioned, the Raina / Nana middle 8 is just the icing on the cake. Nana's voice is so... fragile sounding here? It's glorious."​



@Macsun (10) — "Finally Dessert and the end of the Trilogy on this single. Lush and warm and crisp. Again amazing production and great use of harmonies."

@berserkboi (8.5) — "Lots of prettiness!"

@M24 (7.75) — "Very cute, I love the electronic bits in the chorus. There's not much else to say."

@Vixen (7.75) — "It's a very sweet ballad. Not bad."​






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#49
With U

Grade: 7.500
Honor roll: 10×1 (@yuuurei), 9.5×1 (@berserkboi), 9×1 (@Love Deluxe)
Drop-outs: 5×1 (@Attis), 5.5×1 (@Ana Raquel), 6×3 (@Crisp X, @roblognick, @Conan)
@Love Deluxe's score: 9
@vague's score: 8.5

5 ballots: #38, 8.450 avg.
10 ballots: #61, 7.175 avg.
15 ballots: #57, 7.250 avg.
20 ballots: #52, 7.425 avg.
25 ballots: #52, 7.390 avg.
31 ballots: #49, 7.500 avg.

"With U" is the third track from After School's third Korean single album, BANG!, released on March 25, 2010. Its lyrics were written by Kahi, it was composed by Tony Malm and Fredrik Björk, and arranged by Seo Jaeha. "With U" peaked at #71 on the Gaon Digital Chart.

In some ways, "With U" feels like the forgotten gem in their discography. Despite being penned by Kahi, she never acknowledged it the same way she did "When I Fall", which she also wrote. Additionally, it's the only b-side from pre-VIRGIN to never get a live outing.

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(9) — "I remember back in 2010, someone on OmonaTheyDidnt said Bekah sounds like Nicole Scherzinger on this song and I haven't been able to unhear it ever since. To me, their earlier ballads really are a tier above a large majority of the ballads that followed."

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(8.5) — "Bekah's little ad-lib before the second chorus is pretty rough nn. Poor thing. Lizzy sounds gorgeous on this, though!!! I def underscored this a bit."​



@berserkboi (9.5) — "Gorgeous affecting ballad!"

@M24 (8.75) — "Their best traditional ballad... that's one beautiful chorus right there. I don't expect it to last too much though, please prove me wrong."

@Macsun (8.5) — "Another song I'm just hearing for the first time! Love the late '90's early '00's pop ballad sound. I'm misty eyed girls!"

@Vixen (8) — "They were SANGING."

@singabob (7.5) — "I'll admit, Kahi doing that bit of vocal run before the second chorus made me chuckle a little. Raina sounds particularly amazing in this."

@eatyourself (7.5) — "A bit cheesy but very pretty."

@SloMover (7) — "It's lovely but towards the end when Raina, Kahi and Jungah all just decide to scream? That's camp." (reading this comment legit made both @Love Deluxe and me scream ffffffff)

@eyeline (7) — "Pretty solid ballad honestly."

@roblognick (6) — "Not my sort of ballad. Beautiful voices though."

@Attis (5) — "Wtf is that adlib in the second pre-chorus dddddddddddddd."​





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No, why did one of their best ballads leave so early??

I think it's an unpopular opinion, but I'd love Amoled to go next. It sounds too much like a demo to still be here. I'd take the Play Girlz intro too, it's just not as epic as the other two intros.
 
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#48
LOVE LETTER

Grade: 7.597
Honor roll: 10×3 (@berserkboi, @Mikl C, @vague), 9.25×2 (@Conan, @M24), 9×2 (@Wills, @yuuurei)
Drop-outs: 4×2 (@roblognick, @eyeline), 5.75×1 (@Cotton Park), 6×3 (@Ana Raquel, @chrisjche, @eatyourself)
@Love Deluxe's score: 7
@vague's score: 10

5 ballots: #48, 8.000 avg.
10 ballots: #57, 7.350 avg.
15 ballots: #52, 7.467 avg.
20 ballots: #47, 7.538 avg.
25 ballots: #46, 7.550 avg.
31 ballots: #48, 7.597 avg.

"LOVE LETTER" is the title track from the second Pledis charity album, HAPPY PLEDIS 2012, released on December 1, 2011. Its lyrics were written by Kim Eana and it was composed and arranged by Melody9. Aside from After School and Son Dambi, "LOVE LETTER" also features vocals from HELLOVENUS' Yoo Ara and Lime, PRISTIN's Xiyeon, and NU'EST's Minhyun and Baekho, who were all undebuted Pledis trainees at the time of its release.

"LOVE LETTER" peaked at #37 on the Gaon Digital Chart, selling 456,293 copies in total since its release. The HAPPY PLEDIS 2012 album peaked at #4 on the Gaon Album Chart and has sold 6,789 physical copies in total. A portion of the album's sales was donated to UNICEF.

In the press release for the album, Pledis described "LOVE LETTER" as "a dance song with shy and heartwarming lyrics, joyful melodies, and a wintery atmosphere", and said the album would "show the close relationship between Son Dambi, After School, and Pledis Boys."

Xiyeon, who was known as Park Junghyun at the time, had previously appeared in the music videos for After School's "Bang!" and Orange Caramel's "A~ing♡". Several of the Pledis Boys members also appeared in various Pledis music videos before the release of "LOVE LETTER", including After School's "Play Ur Love", After School BLUE's "Wonder boy", and Orange Caramel's "Bangkok City" and "Shanghai Romance".

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(7) — "Love Letter wants what Love Love Love already has, valiant effort though! Those out of tune call-and-response parts in the pre-chorus send me. The vocals and crunchy instrumental sound like they're at constant war with each other. Pledis CEO clearly had no time for this release, even though it had like every artist on the Pledis roster ffff. Me and @vague have been throwing jabs at each other for months over Love Letter versus Love Love Love, because he prefers the former and I prefer the latter. And I can gladly say on this day, the evil has been defeated!"

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(10) — "This is mastered horribly but it's so cute idec! I'm just glad the superior Christmas single won in the end :)"​



@berserkboi (10) — "Pure pop perfection!"

@M24 (9.25) — "This will probably be done wrong for being too mellow. It's cute though! That chorus is pretty good, even if it's doing the heavy lifting and takes like 1 minute and a half to come. I also really enjoy the last seconds with choir-like vocalization. Makes me feel so warm inside!"

@Wills (9) — "This is lovely! That piano line aaa, timeless."

@Attis (8.5) — "The instrumentals are weirdly busy for this kind of track, but hey I'm not complaining."

@SloMover (7) — "A serviceable enough Christmas charity release. At least it's a little more interesting and not as on the nose as LOVE LOVE LOVE."

@Vixen (7) — "It's cute, but a little forgettable, I feel like? Like, it's perfectly serviceable, but it gets lost a little amongst the rest. The bridge definitely elevates the song."

@roblognick (4) — "I really dislike this. Everyone sounds awful on it, the instrumental sounds weird too."​







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#47
SHINE

Grade: 7.621
Honor roll: 10×3 (@Cotton Park, @Oleander, @Remorque), 9.25×1 (@junglefish), 9×4 (@Ana Raquel, @ysev, @Macsun, @Love Deluxe)
Drop-outs: 3×1 (@Hurricane Drunk), 4×1 (@Crisp X), 5×1 (@Vixen)
@Love Deluxe's score: 9
@vague's score: 8.75

5 ballots: #43, 8.300 avg.
10 ballots: #51, 7.625 avg.
15 ballots: #47, 7.617 avg.
20 ballots: #51, 7.450 avg.
25 ballots: #49, 7.450 avg.
31 ballots: #47, 7.621 avg.

"SHINE" is After School's final Japanese digital single, released on November 19, 2014; it was later also included on After School's final album, BEST, released on March 18, 2015. Its lyrics were written by Kanata Okajima and it was composed and arranged by Christian Fast, Didrik Thott, and Sebastian Thott. With the exception of re-recordings on BEST, this is the final officially recorded song in After School's discography.

"SHINE" was used as a CM song for the MARUKO lingerie brand's fall 2014 campaign, which starred Juyeon. "Ms.Independent" from the Dress to kill album had previously been used in another MARUKO campaign, also starring Juyeon, the preceding year.

"SHINE" was first teased in the press release for After School's second tour, Dress to SHINE supported by MARUKO, as a "never before heard song" the group would be performing during the show. The tour's title was, of course, itself a hint to the song's title.

With the tour being announced so last minute and the stage design looking visibly more stripped back compared to the PLAYGIRLZ tour in 2012, it seems that management and the girls themselves knew the Dress to SHINE tour was likely meant to be a final commemoration before the group's Japanese contract expired in 2015.

In hindsight, Juyeon opting not to renew her contract with Pledis and the other members like Nana and Raina starting to get more significant solo bookings around this time, "SHINE" and the BEST album era as a whole really felt like the members knew that things were coming to an end and that this was the closing chapter for the group.

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(9) — "I honestly never heard this song until we were figuring out the song list for this rate, but this was one of my rate (re)discoveries along with Wonder Boy. Love those stacked harmonies in the choruses, Kaeun ate that first chorus up! I'll always wish these talented women got a proper send-off, but this is a nice sentimental note to end on. Raina said, come hell or high water I'm going to get the last solo note on the final After School song, and that she did!"

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(8.75) — "Comebacks were getting sparser and the songs weren't doing as well in Korea or Japan, and I think everyone - fans and the members alike - sort of knew this was the end. This is a pretty song and I'm glad avex at least gave them a decent send-off since Pledis couldn't be bothered."​



@Cotton Park (10) — "I guess a flower can shine. In the right sunlight, right?"

@Macsun (9) — "Sounds a bit dated but Juyeon is so gorgeous on the cover. All is forgiven."

@M24 (8.25) — "Even if the lyrics are cheesy, I love this! I'm always in the mood for a Katy Perry-like inspirational anthem."

@SloMover (7) — "It's pleasant enough but at least AVEX gave the group a sendoff."

@berserkboi (7) — "Nice but forgettable! Shine like a flower, really? Ddd"

@Attis (6.25) — "Love the sentiment but never a big fan of Rachel Platten type of song."

@singabob (5.75) — "For such a big song, the vocals sound very weak."​







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