After School – Flashback

Lets face it, the steaks have never been higher for After School. With people still getting over Beckah’s departure, news that Kahi would also be leaving came as a serious blow. Some people have already written the group off because of this. It doesn’t help that the girls have been having an identity crisis ever since Bang!, and they’ve been releasing mediocre singles in Japan for what feels like forever. Also, was anyone aware that Lizzy and E Young had joined the group? Case in point, After School may have a solid fan base, but they’re limping along as the competition becomes more intense each time a new group debuts.

This brings us to the topic of today’s discussion; After School’s latest single, Flashback. With everything that’s happened lately, this seemed like the perfect time for a rebirth. When the group released the teasers for this song, it looked like they were finally going back to the sexy, confident, and intense image that made them famous in the first place.

 Let me get this out of the way now; these girls are ON FIRE! Through out the song’s music video, they simply captivate with their smoldering looks, and intense charisma. Their outfits are sleek, and sexy, accentuating every curve on these ladies’ bodies. They’ve said that the concept was “feminine goddesses,” and they really nailed it. The group hasn’t looked this good since their debut song, Ah! 

Unfortunately, after we get over the hypersexualized visuals, things start to fall apart. The song’s instrumentals are actually pretty good. Its a synth heavy dance track with a solid beat that should make for a hit track. It even features a dub-step inspired breakdown. It works really well with the concept, and stands out as the song’s most memorable moment. Unfortunately, Flashback suffers from some serious set backs that keep it from reaching its full potential. 

In Kahi’s absence, the spotlight now shifts to Jung Ah and Nana, along with Raina who was always second in command. She sounds fantastic as always, and Jung Ah really shines thanks to her deep tone. Unfortunately, Nana joins the ranks of So Hee and half of Girls’ Day for most annoying voice in K-pop. Her sing-talk verses (I hesitate to call it rapping) are irritatingly sweet and out of place.  As for the rest of the girls…well, they’re there. Line distribution sucks, and it seems like the only time they get to shine are the most forgettable moments. They all have similar sounding voices, so distinguishing them from one another is a bit difficult. Do you even know how many other girls there are? Can you name them? 

What do you mean I only get one line!?

Maybe we’d actually be able to hear these girls if they weren’t being covered by heaps upon heaps of autotune and vocal filters? Unfortunately, the computerized vocals seem to make up half of the song, which is actually quite bland. The chorus is virtually hook less, and there just isn’t any part that grabs your attention.

Given this song’s feirceness, and the girls’ technical dancing skills, you’d think that we might get some solid choreography. However, once again, Pledis seems to have dumbed down the dance routine. Sure, it gets points for being sexy, but like the song, the dance is rather bland and uninspiring. Its comprised mostly of leg spreading, caressing, booty popping, hip shaking, and gyrating…but not a whole lot of dancing. Luckily, the girls have mastered the art of the smoldering gaze. Each of them has the ability to melt camera lenses by simply giving them the “come hither” eyes.

Oh, Pledis. As a fan that has been following After School since their debut, I’m starting to get frustrated. I feel like Flashback was a definite step in the right direction, but on that step, I think they broke a heel and fell on their pretty little faces. While the visuals are nothing short of stunning, the song itself is rather bland and forgettable.

Final Score: 2/5


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