Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: After School–“Shampoo”

Contrary to expectations, After School’s music video is not actually an Herbal Essences CF.

Did you like the song?
Reviewing another older one today by request! Continuing on the “blind” theme from yesterday, today we have After School’s “Shampoo.” First of all, this song is from After School’s album entitled “Virgin,” which I think at the very least is a rather creepy album name. Overlooking that, I’m not a huge fan of the song. It’s all right and certainly has very pretty piano playing, it’s just nothing special. There are long sections where there’s no singing or musical changes, which works well for the video but not so well for the song. My main issue, though, is that it doesn’t do a great job at showing off the members’ voices, some of which I know to be very powerful. But they have sound light and airy to match the piano melody.

Let’s see if I can accurately describe the members’ positions in this promo photo so you can learn their names…

After School members shampoo

Left to right: Lizzy, Raina, Nana, E-Young (on floor), Jung-Ah, former member Bekah (behind couch), Jooyeon, Uee (standing), and leader Kahi (on ottoman).

What was your favorite part of the song?
Although the Raina/Jung-Ah bridge was pretty—heck, the whole song is pretty—I like the chorus and the Nana/Bekah rap section.

Does the English make you want to rip your eardrums out?
There are only two or three English phrases, all of them fairly random, but one of them is Bekah’s awesome “Tick tock, you talk, we talk.” Love that line.

Did you like the video?
After School is a super-talented group that (in addition to singing and dancing) keeps surprising fans by revealing impressive new skills. They do a cool drumline, they can tap dance, and they have the model walk down pat. So I guess what this video shows more than anything is their dedication to working hard to learn these things.

Well, in this video, we get to see them working hard, and the fact that they’re preparing for the next After School mini-music video is different and meta. Although I didn’t like that Raina had way more screentime than anybody else, I really can’t complain much because at least all the members are in this MV, the story is interesting, and no one gets hit by a car.

After School members Diva

Current members for “Diva” promotions: Jung-Ah, Raina, Nana, Uee, Kahi, Lizzy, Jooyeon, and E-Young.

Was there a storyline? If so, did it make sense?
Our cast (plus Hottie Dance Instructor):

After School members Shampoo member screenshots

(Row 1:) Kahi, Jung-Ah, Jooyeon, (row 2:) Bekah, Uee, Raina, (row 3:) Nana, Lizzy, and E-Young.

Raina is a small person with big dreams. She wants to be one of the beautiful girls in the pictures above a dance stage.

After School Shampoo screenshot

Raina and the divas.

At the beginning, I assumed that this must be a super-elite dance studio, as they only let one new person in…but then there’s a problem because Raina at the beginning is not a great dancer. So how was her character the one chosen from legions of hopefuls out of what I’m sure was an extremely strenuous audition process? I’m left to conclude: a) the dance studio is in serious decline, and there were no better applicants, or b) Raina’s character is the last-minute understudy replacement for an injured dancer, or c) her character has some “quality” the judge(s) were looking for that was more important than dancing skill, or d) her character had to bribe or sleep with the judges to get in. :/

Anyway, first off we get some “through Raina’s eyes” (but clearly male gaze) shots of the other members’ bodies.

After School Shampoo screenshot

Super necessary.

My favorite scene is when Hottie Dance Instructor introduces Raina to the other members and they are just not into her at all (except Kahi and Jung-Ah, who seem nicely supportive). That was fairly realistic.

After practicing, Raina is still utterly hopeless, so Hottie Dance Instructor, who sees her hidden potential, helps her with her moves (in more ways than one). All during this time, you get the impression that Hottie Dance Instructor is either losing his eyesight or totally hungover all the time. He looks at Raina and his vision becomes blurred, then he holds his head in pain.

After School Shampoo actor blind

One too many Jägerbombs last night.

Vision is a pretty weird sense for someone to lose in this music video, considering the lyrics to “Shampoo” are all about how a girl wants her man to smell like her, but I suppose it’s harder to show the olfactory system in a music video without those “4D” scratch-and-sniff cards.

Raina and Hottie Dance Instructor start dating, and she even changes her hair (to match what he saw in his vision of what she could become). Then one day she comes in and there’s a new dance instructor. Jung-Ah consoles her and helps to take over her training, and Hottie Dance Instructor checks in one last time to make sure Raina’s doing all right. Aww, right?

After School Shampoo Raina Jung-Ah

Raina and Jung-Ah.

Except…it seems to me like Raina was kind of confused as to where her beau had gone. Or maybe she had just forgotten he left. But it brings me to the crucial question of this music video: he did tell her he was going blind, right? Right? And they can all go visit him in the hospital after he has his surgery or treatment for his brain tumor or whatever. (It’s not fatal, right?! Because if he knew it was fatal, it’s pretty cruel for him to start dating her without telling her.)

Finally, the MV leads into…

Was the dance cool and distinctive?
…the short but super impressive tap-dance music video “Let’s Step Up”:

Do the members look good?
Yeah, everyone looks great, and Raina is adorable. Did you know that Kahi will be 31 in December? She is so gorgeous, wow. And I laughed every time Nana was onscreen looking bored.

After School members Shampoo concept photos

In age order: (row 1:) Kahi, Jung-Ah, Jooyeon, (row 2:) former member Bekah, Uee, Raina, (row 3:) Nana, Lizzy, and E-Young.

Which member stood out the most?
It’s silly to pretend that Raina didn’t stand out the most here, since she got the most screentime and has a very distinctive look anyway. She and Jung-Ah were very sweet together. But I really like these two duos:

After School Shampoo gif Kahi Jungah

The two eldest, Kahi and Jung-Ah.


The super-hot Nana and master of amusing expressions Lizzy.

Do you like it enough to buy the song?
Although it’s a sweet song and I like the piano, I didn’t enjoy it enough to buy it.

Any ending thoughts?
Also in this video is former member Bekah, who “graduated” from After School to return to Hawaii and become a designer. Whether or not it was her choice, I hate it when groups switch up their members (unless the members truly want to leave to do other things). Not only is it confusing, it can be very upsetting to fans. And I really hope that After School isn’t intending to become a group of “rotating” members because I really dislike that idea.

Boyfriend’s one-liner:
“Sorry, honey, he doesn’t like you for your dancing.”

Thanks for reading! Please comment, subscribe and request a review if you’d like. :)


  1. Funny because this is one of my favorite song for 2011. Haha I guess we have such conflicting opinion on songs. I love the bridge with Raina and Jung Ah, and I catch myself singing that part unintentionally, but then again I <3 AS haha

  2. I guess I've never really gotten into After School's songs (other than Bang!, which I adore and am constantly singing). This one was pretty, just not my thing other than the rap, I guess.

    But it was nice to get to know After School's members a bit more! My favorite in terms of looks has got to be Nana, but I love Raina's singing voice. :)

  3. I really came here because I searched on google to see what people thought the plot was like, and you cleared a lot of things up for me. Btw, can I just say how amazed I am that you mentioned the male gaze theory! So impressed! I can tell you've done some extensive courses or classes in film, television and new media studies which makes me value your review ever more. 

    So yeah, thanks again for having the plot summery, really nice review set out, with teaching beginners to AF about the members and everything. : )

  4. Haha, I'm so glad you noticed about the male gaze theory! Yeah, went to a liberal arts college and took a lot of feminist theory courses because that stuff really interests me. Though I don't think I studied male gaze theory until I read a review of the movie Drive with Ryan Gosling. The review was pointing out that the director consistently subverts the male gaze, so I researched it after that because I was curious as to what they meant. My feminist theory courses are not as helpful in finding a job, but at least I'm getting to apply that knowledge somewhere, even if it is on Kpop videos. :)

    Thanks so much for your sweet comments! Hope the review was helpful to you. :)

  5. I also love the "tick tock, you talk, we talk" part. Not Engrish at all. Actually it's a very very creative play with English.

  6. Isn't it, though?! I think that's probably my favorite English line in a Kpop song so far. It's just so intriguing and clever and has hidden meaning while also being fun and catchy. *thumbs up*

  7. Oh my, does anyone know what the dance instructor's name is? I've been searching for his name forever now.

  8. I know I'm way late on this, but I have to say it. 
    This is the best K-POP song EVER!
    The piano, the chorus, the bridge. Everything was as close to perfect as you could get.
    Although the MV is way too long for my taste, it did have a purpose and I understand that(not that I agree with how it was shown, but still). I wish these girls went back to songs like this. Flashback left me kind of empty, and the Japanese album.. Ugh..