After School Heaven
I’ve always been a fan of After School, but this year they’ve really stepped up their game in ways I didn’t think were possible. Just when it looked like they’d jumped the shark following the departures of Bekah and Kahi, they sexed-up E-Young and Kaeun, learned to pole dance, and made one of the best K-pop comebacks of 2013 with “First Love.” It didn’t do as well as it should have on the charts, but all that means is that we get to shake our fists and complain about how underrated After School is and how their M! Countdown stage is literally the greatest thing in the history of popular music.

Aside from Orange Caramel’s album, it’s been just over a year since After School released anything in Japan. It looked like they’d given up on the Japanese market, but now they’re back with a new single called “Heaven.” It’s a funky disco-influenced dance song that sounds a lot like a J-poppified version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and that makes it pretty damn special. When Korean girl groups aren’t recording Japanese versions of their K-pop hits, they’re either doing kitschy cute J-pop or generic dance-pop stuff. “Heaven” is neither, with a sound that mirrors the much hipper, more musical side of J-pop that’s often overlooked by casual observers of the genre. The same goes for the music video, which is easily the group’s best Japanese visual to date. To my knowledge, this is the first time a Korean girl group has ever even tried this concept and sound in Japan.

Making “Heaven” even better is that it still sounds and looks like an After School single (they even work the pole dancing in there!). They’ve managed to combine what’s good and unique about both K-pop, J-pop, and themselves into one song, which is something that very few K-pop acts in Japan have been able to do. That makes “Heaven” the coolest Japanese song from a Korean girl group since Girls’ Generation’s “Flower Power” slayed us all.

It’s a shame that After School hasn’t been able to get a second wind yet like Girl’s Day or 4minute did this year, because with “First Love” and now “Heaven” they’ve reaffirmed that they’re still one of the best female K-pop groups around, even if the charts don’t reflect that fact.

  • heauxbag

    YES TO EVERYTHING!!! i’ve had this flawless tune on repeat all day <3

  • Sunny

    this was produced by the same guy who did MEG’s “TRAP” (one of her best singles) and Namie Amuro’s “Naked”. So its no surprise that this is extremely good as well.

  • MIKEE

    Oh LAWD the 70’s porno music in the beginning had me scared for a minute! This is easily their best Japanese single yet. Kaeun has never looked sexier, somehow Nana got EVEN sexier, the flawless Lizzy is back, and the mere presence of Uee didn’t annoy the shit out of me! The MV is gorgeous and this song will be my jam for weeks to come. I really hope Heaven does something on the charts because First Love totally got cock blocked and its not fair!

    • Marhaebwa

      You better deliver that truth and tea piping hot, that’s what I’m saying!

  • 364Leinad

    I would sacrifice my firstborn child to Cthulhu for just one night at this brothel.

  • Andi

    Omg, Nana is a brunette!!! This is flawless.

  • Marhaebwa

    This gives me everything I’ve ever wanted in a K(J-Pop) video.
    Jungah is giving me flawlessness.
    Nana is slaughtering me with flawlessness.
    The slinky beat is annihilating me with flawlessness.
    The FOUR-GIRLS-ON-A-POLE sequence seismic tossed me into the ground!

    I just..just..cannot even..

  • KingBeaArthur

    I don’t have words for how flawless this song and PV are!!!

  • CaptainJoeHook

    Lizzy is so iconic on the couch at the end

  • ICONI3

    The amazing Shinichi Osawa produced this. He did Namie’s “Naked” and “What a feeling”..so I knew this was gonna be amazing.

  • i’m very pleased with pledis treatment on after school after the pretty lame promotions of “flashback”. the best thing about “first love” is that they all oozed presence and confidence during promotions, even with lizzy/nana’s defalcation.

    and “heaven” just makes me even more excited to be an AS stan because of all you mentioned. it’s amazing how after school is the only group after brown eyed girls that can do adult sexy without seeming to be trying too hard.

    uhg…and what they’ve done to e-young and kauen!! i just can’t take my eyes off them during the whole video!!

    on a sad note though i could use some more jungah and jooyeon – they get me more respect than the over-raina-zation of after school.

  • i also love that the MV is a mix of SNSD’s “genie” with 2NE1’s “do you love me” – but even better!

    because “heaven” feels like the true prelude of a delicious orgy, instead of a weird harem filled with post-teenagers (genie) and after school’s posing feels more believable than 2ne1’s pretending to have fun.

    • Allen Alexander

      “….feels more believable than 2NE1’s pretending to have fun.”

      I LOL’d. I don’t know if it’s just my distaste for the group or what but I can totally see them not really liking each other all that much. I feel like CL and Dara probably think they’re too good for the group, Bom is just kinda existing and Minzy just goes with whatever the rest tell her to do just as long as she gets to spread her legs once in a while.

  • Of course this slays,afterlegend are the most underrated group in pop history.

  • James Smith III

    love the ending of the vid….LIZZY was like ” i didnt get to promote “first love” so dammit imma take these last ten seconds and give u everything”

  • Allen Alexander

    Can we also give them the award for the best singles-that-will-never-be ala “Love Beat” and “Dressing Room”?

  • Nicole Naeun

    Iconic video, good song!

  • William Love

    the porno music intro is GIVING ME LIFE

  • YuSooHyoSun

    Too much Raina-Uee-Nana as per usual, and not enough E-Young. Pisses me off that she’s been in the group longer than Kaeun, and Kaeun STILL gets more lines (yes, I know Kaeun speaks better Japanese, but in their last Korean release, Kaeun got two lines and a whole verse, while E-Young had two small lines).

  • Lucas Perroni

    Lizzy’s future will be huge. The girl got SWAG and talent.