the short of it: This album was a pleasant surprise from boA and gives off a different feel from what we’ve seen from her in the past. Not only does it have catchy, fast-paced tracks but also has a number of smooth and slow numbers that makes the entire album a complete win. It’s rare to find an album that has more than just a few memorable songs so let’s all thank BoA for coming back to kpop and giving us this awesome album!
take-a-fourth: I think the entire album deserves multiple listens but if you really don’t have the time or patience, definitely give these a listen: “Game,” “Hurricane Venus,” “Dangerous,” “Don’t Know What to Say,” “M.E.P(My Electronic Piano),” “로망스”
Tracklist: 01.) Game, 02.) Hurricane Venus, 03.) Dangerous, 04.) 옆사람, 05.) M.E.P(My Electronic Piano), 06.) Let Me, 07.) 한별, 08.) Adrenaline, 09.) 하루하루, 10.) Don’t Know What To Say, 11.) 로망스 (Romance)
When I first heard of BoA and her music, I had no idea that she was Korean. At the time, I was in the middle of my anime and jpop phase (aka 8th-9th grade) and therefore had no knowledge whatsoever of anything kpop. During this phase, I had heard (and fell in love with) “The Love Bug” (BoA’s collabo with M-Flo) and from that had come to the conclusion that she was a jpop artist (and therefore Japanese). So when I got into kpop and Korean dramas a couple of months later (late 2004), I was totally unaware of BoA’s kpop history until she came out with “Girls on Top” in 2005, which also happens to be her last Korean album until now. While I did enjoy her dark but strong image in “Girls on Top,” I was never a huge fan of her although I did occasionally indulge in a couple of her catchy, Japanese singles. Even though I wasn’t a big fan of her at the beginning of my kpop journey, I respected her because of how long she had been in the business and because of her ability to not only dominate the kpop scene but also the jpop scene, which is especially commendable considering she’s a foreigner. Furthermore, she is somewhat of a legend even to people who aren’t Korean or Japanese or into kpop or jpop. Just say BoA and they know who she is even if they haven’t heard much of her music. She is the original kpop princess and I really believe that a good amount of kpop’s success internationally is due to her ridiculous dancing skills and her undeniably catchy music.
Before I move onto looking at her new album, I think it’s important to mention her attempt to break into the American market. So when I first heard of BoA thinking of entering the American music industry, I was a little weary but at the same time, not so worried because if any kpop star had a fighting chance, it would be her. And to be honest, she was probably the most successful one out of all the kpop artists who have tried to cross over. Anyways, once I heard the single meant for international release aka “Eat You Up” and saw the music video for it, I knew that she would be okay. It probably wouldn’t be a hit but it definitely wouldn’t be a fail. It was also that song and that music video that really sold me on BoA. Like I said before, I had always respected her ability to dance and her insane charisma, but I had never really been crazy about her. With “Eat You Up,” I gained a greater appreciation for her talent and her ability to appeal on a wider scale. Because of the inability of “Eat You Up” to be a huge success in America, I felt like BoA needed to make an epic comeback to the kpop scene where she would definitely be appreciated. And a year or so later, she finally did. After five years of being away, BoA has come back to the place where it all began ten years ago.
Enough of my blabbering and onto the real purpose of this post. If I could describe BoA’s Hurricane Venus in one word, it would be: AWESOME. It’s one of those rare albums in which almost every single song is worthy of multiple listens and praise. When I first listened to the entire album, I couldn’t single out one song that I flat out didn’t like. Sure, there are songs that are kind of forgettable, but if you asked me to pick out my favorite song, I’m not quite sure I’d be able to. That being said, let’s look at her title track, “Hurricane Venus,” first. To be honest, I did not like this song when i first heard it. She had just released “GAME” a week before and compared to that, “Hurricane Venus” felt like a disappointment. I thought it was catchy, but I was like “Wow, really BoA? You picked THIS over GAME? idonotcomprehendatall. It’s not nearly as fun as “GAME” and your vocals don’t sound as good. Furthermore, even though there’s definitely some showcasing of your vocals in the song, your people seemed to have overused the synthesizer just a little bit. Oh and Shakira’s wants the part of “She Wolf” that you used in the chorus back.” As you can see through my fake talking to BoA, I had a terrible first impression of the song. But as I listened to it more, I began to realize why she chose it. Unlike “GAME,” which is appealing because of it’s fun beats and sassy feel, “Hurricane Venus” has a set-up where it builds up to a climax and then everything just explodes (in a good way). In other words, the song allows for BoA to be EPIC (as weird and abstract as that sounds). It’s sort of like her grand announcement to the kpop world that she’s back and she’s about to blow us all away.
After only listening to “GAME” and “Hurricane Venus,” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the rest of her album. I thought that it’d be mainly catchy dance tracks with a couple of mediocre ballads, but boy was I wrong. Hurricane Venus turned out to be much much more than that. I would have to say that as great and mesmerizing as her fast-tempo tracks are on the album, her ballads and slow-paced songs are equally as good. My favorite ballad on the album is “Don’t Know What to Say,” which is absolutely gorgeous. The song is just so well composed and the melody is so pure and beautiful. The strength of this song is its ability to showcase BoA’s vocal range without causing her to overdo it. It really portrays the quality of her voice especially in the refrain when she softly sings “don’t know what to say now” over and over again.
Another interesting thing about the songs on this album is that they’re much different from what one would usually here on a kpop album. They’re different in that most of them (in particular, the slow ones) have a foreign sound to them. When I say foreign, I mean a sound that is usually characteristic of other countries’ music. In BoA’s case, it’s the jpop and American scene. For instance, when I heard “M.E.P(My Electronic Piano),” I totally got a jpop vibe from the song to the point where I totally expected her to suddenly start singing in Japanese. In addition to having a jpop feel, the beats and sounds (and even the melody a little bit) in the verses (especially the first one), the part in the climb right after the chorus and the bridge remind me a lot of B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You” (actually, you kind of hear a similar beat and tempo throughout the entire song even though the notes she’s singing are not really similar to that in “Nothin’ on You”). Another example of this sort of foreign influence in BoA’s new album is “한별 (One Star),” which gives off this indie, soft pop rock vibe that one would hear on American radio. While I’m not praising BoA’s use of American and jpop style music, I think that it makes the songs on her album stand out by giving them a fresher sound and feel.
I really wish that I could talk about every single song on this album because there are just so many good ones but as you can already tell, this review is just getting way too long. Again, this album deserves to be listened to in its entirety and props need to be given to BoA for not only surprising us with the variety of songs on this album but for also giving us such high quality tracks that are not only catchy and pleasant to listen to but are also well composed and able to showcase her talent. Welcome back to kpop BoA^^ We hope you stay for a while because we sure as hell missed you!