Now for this post, in which I’ll address BEST & USA, the comparisons between Britney Spears, the likelihood of attaining success in her US career and all that other fun jazz. Believe it or not, this post is EVEN LONGER than the last. Expect a lot of fangirling, rambling, and etc. You have been warned
I think I’ll review her Japan Best because this is a Jpop blog….
JAPAN BEST :
1). UNIVERSE: Like everybody else, I was really excited when I heard Crystal Kay and VERBAL from m-flo were on ship, to a Bloody&Ashant track no less. While UNIVERSE certainly isn’t bad, it didn’t meet my expectations and is a rather standard upbeat dance track. Crystal Kay’s and BoA’s blend alright though I’ve gotta say BoA overpowers Kuri’s thin vocals big time.
2). DO THE MOTION: I’ve always liked this track, especially after I heard it performed live (OK she lipsynched it, but she danced live. It really is the most radically different song that BoA’s ever done and it really is a chill, laid-back track that never manages to bore the hell out of me. Always loved it, and always will.
3). Eien: While I think of it as the soundscape that doesn’t go anywhere, I still love Eien as much as I did a month ago. It’s just way too damn catchy to not love and is the song I bop my head to.
4). Nanairo no Ashita~brand new beat~: It always amused me how some prudes on BJJ always went Nanairo no As***a~brand new beat~. Sadly, that’s the most amusing thing that can be said of the song because it’s really fake-cutesy, dull, and well a ~bland new beat~. I’ve never liked this and never will.
5). Winter Love: I remember loving this song when it first came out, up to the point of crying when watching the PV (what a dork I was). After awhile though, I got sick of it and didn’t touch it for about a year. I’ve recently started listening to it now and it’s definitely one of BoA’s stronger ballads, with a strong chorus and pretty arrangement. BoA’s vocals really shine in the chorus too; you can really see the power and skill in them.
6). Meri Kuri~BEST&USA Version~: Oh boy. While I always liked this song’s arrangement, I could never stand BoA’s shrill head voice which always manages to give me a headache. This song strips the arrangement which centers more of BoA’s headache-inducing vocals. Yeah, God isn’t fair.
7). Sweet Impact: Really is there anyone who doesn’t remember the MJ-styled PV when reminded of this song? That’s all I think of for the most part. As for the song itself, it’s pretty mediocre and doesn’t emit much of a reaction for me.
8). Dakishimeru: While this isn’t a bad song to dance too, it always struck me as the poor man of VALENTI. I guess it doesn’t help that this was written by the same dude who wrote VALENTI. The poor man of VALENTI still is a decent song though and it keeps me awake at 4AM.
9). LOVE LETTER: This is definitely one of BoA’s not-so-good ballads because it is cheesy, generic, and boring. Next.
10). Sparkling: I actually like this song. It’s cute, not in the fake-I-wanna-throw-up-way that ~bland new beat~ is, but it’s catchy and fun. I love how Kissing you, the main A-side from VIVID, isn’t on here. Guess even avex realizes how much that song sucks.
11). KEY OF HEART: Cheese. Cheese. Cheese. This song is more of a guilty pleasure when I feel cheery and on sugar-high but that’s really it. Also, why did this have such good HIP-HOP choreography in the PV? It makes no sense to me.
12). make a secret: I always think of the whole “OMG BoA’s dating her hairdresser” (who ironically, is the same hairdresser Leah Dizon got knocked up and married with). It’s also a different song from BoA but I always found it too draggy to enjoy.
13). Everlasting: Oh wow, nostalgia. There was a time when I was ~*ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE*~ with this song. Now, I don’t love the song as much as before but it’s still one of BoA’s better ballads. The chorus is absolutely wonderful and completely different from the verses. Solid ballad.
14). LOSE YOUR MIND: Another cheesy song though it’s a departure from the norm. This was always a guilty pleasure of mine too and it always will be.
15). Believe in Love (acoustic version): I always liked this version better than the original. And I don’t know why because the original has a good arrangement. Either way, this song is a chill song that’s great to relax too and while BoA’s lower range still isn’t the best, she still sings better than most Jpop artists.
16). VALENTI-BEST&USA Version-: Thanks for killing one of my Top 10 BoA songs. God, this version is awful starting with the clashing horns to the draggy beat and BoA’s deterioating vocals. Epic fail
I haven’t seen too many people talk about this, understandably because of the US album. But I find that it’s a nice trip down memory of BoA’s steadily sinking career AKA Outgrow to now. Just to make sure people buy this album, avex stuck on a new single (Eien), the b-side UNIVERSE, and two new versions of Meri Kuri and VALENTI-BoA’s most well-known songs. They also shuffled the order around and while some of it seems to flow rather well, I’ve got issues with the ordering from Sparkling to Lose Your Mind. It’s a solid BEST album overall and it makes the best of a sinking ship.
Also, I’m really surprised at how badly this album is selling. Yeah I know Oricon doesn’t have that 1.7x multiplier anymore but 81, 627 copies only? Jesus Christ, Tohoshinki sold more in their first day. It’s impossible to deny that BoA’s a total has-been in Japan now. Now let’s focus on what we all care about, BoA’s US debut album-BoA The First Album.
1). I Did It For Love (feat. Sean Garret): Thank goodness this is the new single because this song is awesome. While I wasn’t too impressed with it at first, it’s really catchy and has a strong arrangement. Sean Garret isn’t too shabby either. The only thing that bothers me about this song is the autotune. BoA sounds like a robot in the song and her accent is really pronounced-I can’t understand her without a concious attempt at listening to the lyrics and I’m a NATIVE English speaker whose grown up around FOBs all my life.
2). Energetic: There’s not too much to this song since it’s basically one of those repetive club songs that repeats the same thing over and over till you wanna beat your head against the wall. Nevertheless it’s catchy and mindless enough to whenever I need a pick-me-up or I’m in a more upbeat mood. It’s a perfect song for the clubs, so it fufills its purpose.
3). Did Ya: Oh wow, this song really stands out in a good way. For one thing, I can hear an acoustic guitar line which is a nice surprise. Second, the song has a funky arrangement with a nice mix of the hand-clapping, acoustic guitar, trumpets, and other instruments that I know I’m missing, which all hit the off-beat for a neo-Jazz feel. The result is something enough to attract your attention but is still pleasing and fun for the ears. If that wasn’t enough for a winner, the lyrics are sassy and fun. Most importantly BoA’s vocals are raw (not autotuned) and excellent-I love the ad-libbing at the last chorus. This is definitely one of the best songs in this first album and one of the few that shows off BoA’s strong, polished vocal chops.
4). Look Who’s Talking: Not the best song on the album but not the worst either. A lot of people have commented on how “Britney” it is and I agree. It would fit perfectly with her pre-Blackout material…maybe around the era of Toxic? This shouldn’t be surprising though, LWT is a reject track from Britney Spears as evidenced that “B.Spears” is one of the co-writers. I liked this when I first heard BoA perform it at KIIS FM Jingle Ball and I still do. The sassy-lame lyrics amuse me too.
5). Eat You Up: Oh god, I’m sick of this song. Partly from overplay and partly because it’s one of the weaker tracks on this album. Next.
6). Obsessed: This is another standout track on the album and not in a good way. While I can relate the lyrics a little too well and the song is different from a “typical club banger” , the arrangment gives me a headache. I think it has something to do with the constant dog-barking and messy electro-beats. Worst song on the album for me purely because it makes me wanna bang my head against a wall.
7). Touch: If this song was under an artist name, I’d like it. But the chorus doesn’t even sound like BoA…because she’s being drowned out by one of her backup singers. Also I don’t think this BoA is really within her range, it feels like she’s trying to copy Amerie or Ailayah too much.
8). Scream: The more I listen to this song, the more I like it. It seems as if this song is a cover from a b-side released by some German girl group, but it works nevertheless. It has a significantly dark and creepy vibe with a very smooth arrangement. I also love the way BoA says “Underneath the setting sun…”. If I was a boy (or bisexual), I’d be so turned on by that.
9). Girls On Top: The English version of one of her last Korean hits. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about how the lyrics suck and how the Korean version is so much better-from people who don’t speak Korean. Anyways while the lyrics are cheesy as hell, I like them and I think this is a solid English version. My biggest complaint is how this sounds kind of out-of-place with its wannabe-crunk beat but the more variety on this album, the better I guess.
10). Dress Off: I was attracted to this song right away at first but now it just seems kind of blah. It’s catchy but it also sounds really generic, cheap, and messy. I do like the part where she goes “Me….Me…” x4. That part is hot.
11). Hypnotic Dancefloor: My favorite song off the album at first listen and after like 50 plays I can definitely say this is one of the best songs off the album. It’s catchy, addictive, and it has a great arrangement with a very electro pop flavour remniscent of some of Lady Gaga’s music (and not Perfume’s just in case you’re wondering). This song definitely has to go to the clubs too.
Overall this a decent album as long as you can tolerate mindless, dance-pop music without wanting to bang your head against the wall. BoA’s been saying in interviews over and over that she wants to make “a good dance album for the clubs” and she really did do just exactly that. Granted, I think S.M. is stupid for sticking to that genre 100% and this album would have benefited from some R&B slow jams (Eien, Soundscape) and a ballad or two would have been nice. I also hate the autotune and vocoder that’s been used in so many of the songs-BoA has the vocals, bitch. But there are some nice surprises like Did Ya that really make this album and showcase more of what BoA really has to offer. Now the next thing I wanted to talk about is…
“Britney [Spears] of Asia“:
Unsurprisingly, the Americans (or the far and the few who have heard of BoA anyways) are calling BoA the “Britney Spears of Asia” or to something of that extent. What amuses me are all the BoA stans who go “EWWWW!!!!! DON’T COMPARE OUR PRECIOUS ANGEL TO A LOONY LIKE BRITNEY” and the anti-BoA fans that go “EWWWW!!!! BoA SUCKS BECAUSE SHE’S JUST A BRITNEY SPEARS IN KOREA”. First of all, calling an artist the “Britney Spears of blah blah blah” does not mean that said artist is the half-insane, paparazzi magnet, unfit mommy, invisble panties flashing celebrity of said country. Being called the Britney Spears of something means that said artist is a pop diva of equal status in said country and unfamiliar US reader will have something to reference back to.
That being said, I do think BoA is a lot like Britney in many ways. Sure, BoA can obviously sing circles around Britney but at the end of the day they’re both pop artists who’ve undergone years of training up to a point of being called “manufactured”, consistently release pop music, and are well-renowned for their dancing skills (though Britney hasn’t been dancing at all really post-childbirth). Not to mention that Britney’s been a huge influence on BoA, BoA’s staff has been copying Britney for years, probably the most well-known would be DOUBLE being a direct rip-off of Britney’s Let Me Be. I’m sure there’s tons of more examples and points I could make but just look at these two videos-one official and one fanmade. I doubt the Britney fan knew BoA existed but look at the similarities between them. It should be obvious and that’s not a bad thing, really. And speaking of other artists….
I say “competitors” but I really want to talk about Utada because Se7en’s going to release his album at age 90, Rain is dead and sued for 8 million, and Wonder Girls are a joke. A couple months ago I would’ve laughed at Utada actually making it because Exodus was such a hit, amirite?
Well it seems like Island is actually making an effort to try to promote her since lack of promotion was THE REASON Exodus flopped. People can’t like the album if they haven’t heard of it. This time, they’re having Utada do radio tours, fan meetings, and even TV appearances. Not to mention that many higher ups (critics, radio producers, etc. ) seem to be liking her much-more-mainstream music and seem eager to play it on the radio. Not to mention that Utada’s been climbing online charts, as opposed to BoA falling down them charts. So who knows, Utada might do better than BoA after all.
However, I think it’s a bit silly to have a war against Utada VS. BoA fans. Trust me, they both can co-exist together in the US. They both can go on the American’s iPod. It’ll be fine. I’ve noticed that certain critics seem to be favoring Utada over BoA, which is no surprise really. She’s always been more of the artist since she writes all her own songs. Also, her songs are much more laid-back r&b influenced pop, which is different from what BoA’s doing-and leaves room for originality. Listening to This Is the One, there’s some really good tracks like “Apples & Cinnamon”, “FYI”, and “This One” that are much better and personal than any song on BoA. However, BoA’s got two advantages over Utada. 1). BoA can dance. 2). More importantly, BoA can sing better than Utada. Utada’s never been a good vocalist and her weird vibrato technique clashes horribly with her thin vocals. Point in case, they’re two different artists that can succeed at the same time and don’t be a drama queen and post “BoA HATES UTADA” videos on YouTube kthanxbye.
What’s Coming Next:
So BoA’s debut album ranked #125 on the Billboard Charts. Not too good. But I think it’s too early to say “It’s over. BoA’s flopped and finished.” In one of her interviews, BoA said that S.M.’s planning to promote the album after it’s released. She’s already getting the internet promotion rolling with ads on Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret, and Perez Hilton. So far, so good in my opinion.
Now if S.M. ever wants the album to go up higher, they’ve got to get the real promotion going. Missing the scheduled WBC final performance was a pretty bad idea in my opinion-whether or not BoA had a fever, like they claimed jetlack, PMS or whatever. That was the biggest thing she had going for her and she just missed it. There’s still a big radio tour which will hopefully lead radio stations to start playing I Did It For Love (releasing the music video would help too). And BoA really needs to do some T.V. lives-news stations, Ellen, Oprah, The View, whatever. If Utada can get onto KTLA 5 Morning News, than BoA should be able to get on some TV station too. If everything goes well, BoA will be the “Lady Gaga of 2009” in the sense of gaining an upsurge of popularity near the end of the year thanks to good music + good promotion + dedicated fanbase. If BoA’s still an unknown by December, I’d say S.M has failed.
I also think BoA has to prove that she CAN actually sing somehow. It’s going to be rather difficult with this dance-oriented debut, but if she releases Did Ya as the next single and starts doing T.V. lives she might be able to prove herself and set herself as someone different from Britney, Rihanna, and etc.