Review

Song Review: Astro – After Midnight

Astro - After MidnightFor years now, I’ve been crossing my fingers for Astro’s return to the bright, carefree pop of their debut era. Those fingers also begged for a reunion with producers Iggy and Youngbae, who crafted a definitive sound for the group. But, the world rarely gives you everything you want, so in place of another Hide & Seek or Confession, I’m happy to be content with the buoyant – but generic – After Midnight.

With all the success enjoyed by BTS’s Dynamite and Butter, I’m surprised more boy groups haven’t ventured into this bright sound. Summer is the perfect time for hazy synths, uptempo arrangements and breezy vocals. After Midnight contains all these ingredients and stirs them into an appealing confection. Astro’s light performance suits the song, offering a shot of excitement that keeps the energy brisk and addicting. They avoid the dreaded “second verse momentum stall” by tethering Jinjin’s strong rap verse to the rollicking instrumental. In fact, After Midnight never slows down, bounding along its giddy spirit from start to finish.

Yet, the song doesn’t hit as hard as it could. As joyfully infectious as After Midnight is, its melodies are a bit pedestrian. The chorus lacks a killing point – something that would have listeners rushing back for more. I’m certainly satisfied by the hooks on offer, but I’m not bowled over. Luckily, a generous dose of synth strings and chirpy electronics lift After Midnight’s familiar frame. It’s almost impossible to dislike a song so eager to please. After a barren July, K-pop summer is back. Thank goodness for that!

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.5

14 thoughts on “Song Review: Astro – After Midnight

  1. It’s a great song. Astro seemed insistent of being so colorless for recently especially their lowest point song-wise of Blue Flame. We’re back to the bright summery concepts that they used to dominate in back at Baby.

    It never loses momentum, and that second verse is so good compared to how we usually get it, especially because of how good Jinjin and Rocky are at what they do. The instrumentals certainly helped too. It’s just such a good summer song.

    What I noticed is that I feel like they’ve got some vocal effects on, it’s not too obvious but still noticable. I don’t think it’s as egregious as HYBE’s, and none of the effects ruin the enjoyment of my song. They work with the song, even if I would be fine without any of it.

    This mini is such a great summer album. All the songs are great, even the more downbeat songs are engaging. My favorite is probably Don’t Forget but all of them are excellent although Sunset Sky is definitely the most straightforward of them all with it being a classic ballad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Astro, for saving what is left of this summer and also for sounding like your old self again. Or close enough, because I am calling this one good.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. This is fun enough for the fun playlist! It really does feel like the summer is back on.

    Speaking of “Dynamite”, MCND did a cover on M Countdown last week that I (correctly!) hoped was leading up to a comeback announcement (YAYAYAYAY!) and I genuinely did not realize it was a vocal cover until I recognized a couple of Castle J ad libs. I know lots of people have commented on how much BTS’s recent output has buried the guys’ skill and unique voices, but the fact that I even briefly mistook them for an under-two-years-since-debut group not known for their vocals really brought it home for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well this is def the best song of the day. I’m just glad there’s no funeral pace second verse trope. I don’t see myself coming back to it often as it still lacks a certain spark for me but I’ve not been enjoying a lot of Astro’s work recently so I welcome the change.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s a lot of fun, and like you, I’m happy to see a return to the bright Astro! I don’t know if I’ll end up coming back to it a lot but its definitely a great summer song.

    Like

  6. I really appreciate the energy and the chords are beautiful. Though I would say I have a problem in distinguishing segments in this song. It just feels like a constant sense of energy with no valleys or peaks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right in that it’s extremely unpopular. I don’t like it either and the site definitely doesn’t too. Nick loved old Astro. In fact, Astro’s Hide and Seek has an inaugural perfect 10 in this site, the complete opposite of Blue Flame, which has a 6.75. Although you probably know that since you commented then too.

      Blue Flame was a huge departure from anything Astro did before, leaning heavily on a style that was being done way too much at the time (and personally, not a style I liked). It lacked anything that made Astro themselves really.

      Not to say that liking Blue Flame is invalid, music is subjective and I’m no stranger to liking stuff people normally dislike. Though, another Blue Flame-esque song from Astro would probably disappoint Nick heavily, and above all else, I’d love to see that review.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Nick’s taste runs perpendicular of mine even when we agree a song is good, so I just read the site for comparative thoughts.
        Half the songs he rates 8, I would rate 6, because what he finds catchy is boring to me. I’ve tried to listen to The Chaser so many times to find out what’s so great, but I just end up coming to the conclusion not all us can be funk enthusiasts haha.

        Liked by 1 person

        • If you asked me yesterday what I thought of The Chaser, I would’ve agreed with you.

          I relistened today, and I’m realizing what I’ve been missing haha. The Chaser clicked for me once I heard the key change and heard certain instruments.

          But don’t worry about the relistening part. Sometimes if you don’t like it, you just got to stop listening. I’ve done that to SHINEE’s Atlantis and it didn’t end well for me.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. This was hands down my favourite release from yesterday and perhaps my favourite kpop release in a while. I agree that it doesn’t really become ‘outstanding’, or absolutely extraordinary, but the way it just gets into gear right from the first second and delivers a happy, joyful, uplifting melody throughout is very welcome and all that I could have asked for, and I’m so glad to see Astro having a bright/fresh title track again – it’s been a couple of years, hasn’t it?

    The entire album is also full of those cozy summery vibes that’s just right up my alley. It’s been a while since I heard a cohesive summer album in this vein (I think Ha Sungwoon’s latest also had a couple of songs that I really liked, but aside from that off the top of my head I can’t remember a full-on summer album quite like this recently – I’d love recommendations!) and I’m very happy. I can’t really pick one song that stood out a lot, but that’s kind of what I like about having an album that comes across as very cohesive to me. Side note: That self-filmed MV for Footprint is so cute.

    Liked by 1 person

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