Album Review: BoA – “BoA”

 BoA’s self-titled English debut album was released on March 17, 2009. No news yet on chart position or amount of copies sold.

 BoA’s American debut album kicks off with her second single. I Did It for Love (feat. Sean Garrett) is an electronic freak-out in the best way possible. Synths are by far the most prominent feature in the song, and they compliment BoA’s voice nicely. Sean Garrett, who wrote, produced, and is featured on the track, has a fairly large presence in the song and his voice closely resembles that of Akon, giving it an almost hip-hop feel. Despite finding this song extremely catchy in the beginning, I’ve now got a couple problems with it, namely the heavy use of the vocoder, which both accentuates BoA’s accent and robs her voice of the thing that makes it unique. Also, the chorus – which consists only of BoA singing I, I, I, I did it, did it, did it for love four times – becomes extremely repetitive, especially toward the end. After several listens, this song just seems terribly ordinary and does not showcase BoA’s talent as it should.

Energetic is a club anthem if I’ve ever heard one. The first words out of BoA’s mouth are Report to the dance floor, and with that the song explodes with copious amounts of synth. The male vocals in the background contain the title of the song, but are, unfortunately, a bit annoying. It’s got a good beat, but that’s about all I can say to compliment this hot mess of a song. BoA wants to dance in the club all night long, and that’s about all there is to it. If you’re in search of a club track with character, I suggest you look to Utada’s “On and On”, the first song off of her latest English album, because you won’t find it here.

Finally, we have something unique. Did Ya opens with an instrumental soloreminiscent of I Dream of Jeannie, which I found rather amusing. Through the lyrics, BoA speaks to an ex-lover who wasn’t able to step up to the plate and be good to her while they were together. BoA’s vocal talent finally gets the recognition it deserves on this track, and it’s just such a shame that it’s so short, at just under 3 minutes long.

Originally the title track of the album, Look Who’s Talking may at first be mistaken for a Britney Spears single. This song is all about luxury, celebrity, controversy, and the kind of it’s-all-about-me narcissism that’s associated with such a lifestyle. Basically, BoA’s saying she’s not into the kind of guy who thinks he can figure her out just by eyeing her in the club. A good message, but with lyrics like This song is all about me/Damn right, it’s all about me, it tends to come off a little arrogant. A for effort, C for execution.

Eat You Up, the first single put out to promote BoA’s debut, is an absolute monster dance track. Probably the most American-sounding song on the album, it’s got a beat that just about anyone can dance to. If only it would get some more (any) play on the radio, this song could potentially be a massive hit. Even though I’ve listened to this song more than my fair share over the past few months, I simply cannot ignore the catchiness factor. Definitely one of the best on the album.

Obsessed sure is an interesting song. From the very moment it starts, the beat is infectious and the synths thump gratuitously along to BoA’s declarations of fixation over her love. The combination of distinctly electronic elements along with rock-type guitars and drumbeats make this track very unique. While not her most impressive, BoA’s performance in this song certainly stands out among the others. This is by far my favorite track so far.

Whoa, talk about a shocker. Touched has one of the most unique openings I’ve heard on this album, consisting of a broken music box sound, soon accompanied by a siren, thumping beats and – you guessed it – synth. There’s a lot of energy in this song, making it a really enjoyable listen; this is yet another really good song. Let’s hope they keep coming.

Underneath the setting sun, something wicked your way comes. Finally, something dark to come of the slew of upbeat love songs on this CD. Scream is a creepy, fun, fast-paced dance track with lyrics reminiscent of Rihanna’s “Disturbia”, full of attitude and sexiness to spare. To put it simply, I adore this song. From the lyrics, to the beat, to BoA’s excellent vocal performance, this is exactly the kind of song I was waiting to hear from her. 

Of all the songs in BoA’s Korean repertoire she could have chosen to remake in English, she made an excellent choice. The English version of Girls on Top does the original justice in every way, as I was very pleased to find out. BoA’s voice sounds every bit as powerful as it does in the original Korean, and the English lyrics stay true to the original as well. In short, this is a truly masterful remake of one of BoA’s very best Korean songs.

 And we’re back to the mediocre again. Dress Off is another song in which BoA’s telling some guy that she knows he wants to get in her pants, but sorry, she’s not that kind of chick. It’d be a stretch to even say that this song is catchy, because it’s not all that good, to be honest. The way she screams “Dress off!” is also rather irritating. The slower middle section is not all that bad, but unfortunately even that is eclipsed by the rather horrendous chorus. Good things really don’t last, I suppose.

 Hypnotic Dancefloor brings us full circle back to the second track on the album, exclaiming BoA’s insatiable desire to dance all night once more. The sassy beat and erotic lyrics make it little more than an anthem for clubgoers, just like Energetic. It’s a real shame BoA couldn’t find a stronger song to close the album with, but seeing as this is the type of music that makes up about 98% of the album, I suppose it can’t be helped.

Eat You Up (DJ Escape & Johnny Vicious Remix) is a fast-paced house remix that’s perfect for clubs. As far as remixes go, I’d say this one is pretty good, and extremely danceable at that. More enjoyable than the two remixes at the end of Utada’s latest album. Definitely a more effective album-ender than the previous track.

Summary: BoA’s long-awaited English debut is, sadly, a bit of a letdown. Despite most of the songs being fun, synth-dense, beat-heavy club songs that are perfect for dancing, when played together the album overall is seriously lacking in variety. As a fan of BoA’s Korean and Japanese music, the most frustrating aspect I found about this album was the excessive use of vocoder, which made BoA’s voice nearly unrecognizable and totally unremarkable. Hopefully, after going back to the Asian market for a while, BoA will return to America having found her own way of putting her classic spin on her English music.

Album Grade: B-

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