Popular girl group After School is taking a major cultural, and safety, risk with their new single “First Love.”
The eight-member girl group made their return with the melancholic R&B track that has an old-school ’90s feel to it. It’s produced by Brave Brothers — who crafted major hits for the group like electro-pop ballad “Because of You” — but has a sound almost too similar to the K-Pop Hot 100 No. 1 by SISTAR19, “Gone Not Around Any Longer,” with After School making it their own with a hushed, cooing delivery.
But the accompanying visual to “First Love” is likely what people will be talking about. As previously reported, the girls are displaying a pole dancing concept in their video and live performance. After School trained six months to show off the necessary athletic strength to spin, climb and slither around the poles.
Another risk of the clip comes is the members singing topless, looking as if they’ve just stepped out of a shower. Luckily, “First Love” is an emotional, mid-tempo lending itself to have them sing their parts looking like heartbroken, vulnerable girls. If the clip saw After School acting unabashedly sexy, it would likely be banned ASAP. (For reference, HyunA’s shameless “Bubble Pop!” was banned for lyrics and choreography)
So far, no banning news has hit After School as they made their single’s TV debut on music program “M! Countdown.”
Though it hasn’t been all luck for the group. Member Raina injured her hand while practicing and does not perform on the pole in the video or live stage. As well, member Lizzy now has a sprained leg ligament that forced her to sit out filming and performances.
All in all, if South Korea can’t appreciate the pole dancing concept, the girls have created a live show other parts of the world will undoubtedly enjoy. This is the same group has pulled off a cane dance routine in 2012, tap dance in 2011 and drum line in 2010. There will always be a place for them to perform even if the super-competitive K-pop scene doesn’t welcome this with open arms. If anything, “First Love” has just officially confirmed After School as the top performers in K-pop.