ASTRO generally does pretty well for themselves, but I’ve always hoped that they would become more “mainstream” successful and get some more attention. (Like I mentioned in my last post about them, my Korean elementary school students – aka the ones who know about all what’s trendy in pop culture – only recognize Cha Eunwoo.) Well, it seems like my wishes might be coming true – their latest title track picked up FOUR music show trophies this week! I’m honestly so thrilled for them, and I can definitely understand why “After Midnight” has proven so popular.
Feel-good funky songs are all the rage in K-pop right now, and ASTRO’s “After Midnight” is the latest addition to the mix. I’m not sure if it’s considered “newtro,” but there are definitely some strong disco vibes (especially in the chorus). I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but I’m generally not a huge fan of retro stuff. I’ve never been into actual 70’s and 80’s music, so their recent revival in K-pop has been a struggle for me sometimes. HOWEVER, there’s something about “After Midnight” that’s just so darn catchy and irresistible. And out of all the new releases this month so far, I personally feel it has one of the most memorable and distinctive melodies. So while I’m currently in the “nice but not my style” camp, I have a feeling I might start liking it more over time.
Back when ASTRO debuted five (!!!) years ago, they had a very bright and bubbly image. I’ll never forget being a brand new K-pop fan and watching them on After School Club in their bright yellow outfits. (I still perpetually imagine Sanha as that kid with the curly hair and braces, so I’m always shocked whenever I see how much he’s glowed up in present day.) Most of their recent releases are sexy and sophisticated in nature, but I feel like “After Midnight” is a throwback to the fun and carefree music they released in their early days – like “Baby” and “Breathless.” It’s not as youthful as their rookie songs, but it definitely has that same refreshing feel. The piano and the strings give it this really joyful exuberance that’s almost larger than life – and I find it hard not to smile along.
Not only does “After Midnight” sound good, it looks pretty great as well. ASTRO’s visuals in the music video are out of this world, and the aesthetics are very pretty and eye-catching. But as always, my favorite element is the performance. ASTRO’s choreographies are often detailed and intricate, with some rather fancy footwork. There’s still plenty of that here, but I like that they threw in some parts with more grand sweeping movements – the staging really makes it feel like they’re performing a musical number. And I also enjoy how they made some of their key points a little simpler and easier to follow. (You can definitely see the disco influence at play in the chorus, because they’re literally doing all the classic moves.) In my opinion, the part where they imitate the movement of a clock is so clever and well-done.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
While I certainly like “After Midnight,” I must admit I’m not as enamored with it as I was with “ONE.” I won’t compare the two since they don’t have much in common stylistically, but “ONE” is definitely much more aligned with my personal preferences. But like I said earlier, I have a sneaking suspicion that “After Midnight” is going to grow on me a lot as time goes by. I haven’t listened to it that much at this point – I’m trying to keep the authenticity of the “knee jerk reaction” – but I’ve caught myself randomly singing the chorus a couple of times with no prompting whatsoever. So, I’m pretty confident my opinion of it will only increase over time. In any case, I’m absolutely DELIGHTED that ASTRO earned so many music show wins this week and are FINALLY getting the recognition they deserve. I’m crossing my fingers and fervently hoping all this will help their star rise even higher.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Featured image and music video belong to Fantagio Entertainment.