Five years is a tough time to remain relevant in pop music -- particularly in K-pop, where five years is considered the expiration date for idols. But Korean girl group After School has not only been able to prosper through its first half-decade -- latest single "First Love" was the group's highest-charting entry on the K-Pop Hot 100 yet -- but also continues to show increasingly stronger stage performances with each single.
Since debuting as a quintet in late January 2009 to the current lineup of eight members -- the group has K-pop's only admission/graduation concept -- the After School girls have increasingly placed more emphasis on stage performance, looking to hypnotize audiences with catchy tracks paired with dazzling onstage showmanship. It's hard to imagine most -- if any -- Western pop star dedicating themselves to such extreme live shows. And don't forget: Lip synching is a bigtime "no-no" in the band's native South Korea.
To celebrate After School's anniversary, K-Town has selected five must-see performances from the hardest-working performers in K-pop. From their Pussycat Doll-esque debut to a seven-woman pole dance routine, these are the K-pop hotties' most impressive stages.
"Rip Off"/"Flashback" (2012)
After spending the first half of 2012 promoting in Japan, After School returned with a sexy showgirl concept for its comeback K-pop performance. The ladies brought a whimsical cane dance, with a sexy spin, to perform quirky, electro-pop jam "Rip Off." Mixing canes and top hats with cut-off tops and short shorts, the girls shimmied and popped their way through the catchy track. It was a fun juxtaposition to the seductive stage for dubstep dance track "Flashback" -- chock-full of tantalizing hair flips and provocative leg spreads -- but hardly the group's most dynamic.
"Play Girlz"/"AH" (2009)
Overflowing with energy and eager to prove themselves, the girls' debut stage marked the beginning of their can't-miss live shows. Performing "Play Girlz" and their debut single "AH," the members rocked a look inspired by the Pussycat Dolls, though slightly less sexual. The quintet showed big vocals, fierce rap skills and remarkably flexible choreography while oozing confidence rarely seen in a rookie girl group. Look out for members Kahi and Soyoung both showcasing some super-high leg lifts.
"Let's Do It"/"Bang!" (2010)
Just a year after its debut, After School's marching band concept for 2010 single "Bang!" marked the beginning of the group's highly-technical concept performances. Inspired by the Nick Cannon-starring 2003 film "Drumline," the members showcased themselves a confident all-female marching band. The ladies marched onstage to track "Let's Do It!," twirling their drumsticks and beating on their personal drums totally in sync. The upbeat intro was an exciting lead-in to a performance of "Bang!" with a routine packed with stompy choreography making After School appear like a troupe of uber-talented cheerleaders.