Saturday, July 21, 2012

Quick Take: BoA, "Only One"

Does anyone remember my post about BoA from way back when she was still on hiatus from Korean activities? Where I was basically like, "BoA is awesome, just wait - she'll blow your mind?" Well, the wait is over. Ladies and gentlemen. I present to you, "Only One".



I gotta admit, I was surprised when the teaser for this came out and it turned out she was doing an midtempo as opposed to her usual uptempos. But this is gorgeous. First of all, the instrumentation is beautiful - the elements of the song come in bit by bit and pull you in, with BoA's voice sealing the deal at the end. Lovely atmosphere and great transitions. The instrumental carries this track, and BoA flows with it wonderfully. With her reputation as a dance queen, it's easy to forget that she's a beautiful singer as well. While I feel like the recording doesn't demonstrate exactly what she's capable of, I have no doubt she will slay it live. This is the sort of song that doesn't suffer from being understated. The lack of a middle eight is noticeable, though, especially since it's a four-minute song. It leaves you with a lingering sense of longing for something more - possibly intentionally, if the teaser for the drama version of the video (featuring hottie Yoo Ah-in) is anything to go by. Props to her for doing this one herself as well.

BoA's career has been plagued with a number of incoherent albums, featuring a few gems but a lot of filler and little substance. No doubt this is in part because of the direction that SM wanted to take her as she grew out of her teen pop image - one that didn't seem genuine to her. But it seems like now that she owns a considerable portion of SM Entertainment, she can do whatever the hell she wants. And it's about time, too - SM owes her that autonomy after 10+ years of her dancing at their whim. She's taken her experiences in Japan and America and used them to craft a sound and image that's completely her own. Anyone following her Japanese releases will hear the Japanese influence in the song - the melodies are much more intricate than your average k-pop song, and the song structure is much less hooky. It would actually fit perfectly with "White Wishes" on an A-side B-side single. Borrowing from McRoth's vocabulary, it's painted in broad strokes, and is all the more gorgeous for it. Even if I lose interest in this song for not being as in-your-face as other k-pop songs this summer, I will still give it high marks for being one of the most genuine things BoA has put out in recent years. I'm really interested to see what's on the rest of her album, and if she's managed to finally put out a release that feels cohesive and personal. I love that she chooses not to be caged in by uptempos, but still kills it on the dance floor.

Speaking of dance. I have. To talk. About the dancers. After the egregious casting snub from B2ST's management for their latest video, (details over at Angry K-pop Fan), I was all ready to write up an angry post about black people in Korean music videos. I've already touched on it in other posts, but I felt like there was more to explore here than what I'd already covered. While I still plan on writing, this video calms my rage a bit, by simply featuring black people as - well, people. Not simply props to give false authenticity to your music, but equally valuable set pieces with a defined role to play in the context of the video, not on a lower plane than any other race. And it's a beautiful blend of skin tones too, not just black people. I just want to give her a hug for it. And get the numbers of all the dancers ;) Besides the attractive and awesome dancers, the choreo is amazing - NappyTabs are some of my favorite choreographers, and I'm loving what they've done here. And BoA looks gorgeous, obviously. So glad this video is free of all the useless gimmicks SM usually throws into its MVs to make them look cool. It's just BoA, being her awesome self. Yay!!!

2 comments:

  1. I hope you noticed that the BEAST video featured a nice selection of colors among the performers and the crowds. It would be unfair to use that as an example I think.

    Agreed about BoA, though. Happy she's got the sole writing credits for the song: Not that I usually care about 'authenticity', but it shows that she understands that casual cool is her forte, and it sounds like a BoA favorite of mine - "Eien".

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    1. Ooh Eien is a jam :)

      The B2ST video did feature non-whites, and I heard that after the (still disputed) casting call notice was posted, they took non-whites anyway. But, that doesn't change what I was planning on writing. It's not so much that they're never there, but that when they are there, they tend to take on limited roles that invoke racial stereotypes. I'll explain more in my post, which will be up fairly soon, so I hope you come back and check that out!

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