Album review: BoA - Hurricane Venus

BoA - Hurricane Venus | Random J Pop
To say many Korean fans were waiting for a new Korean release from BoA like many Christians were awaiting the second rising of Jesus wouldn't be too much of an overstatement. Okay, so it might well be. But BoA had left her Korean fans in the cold for 5 years in favour of making a household name of herself in Japan. So for her to finally appease her Korean fanbase is a big mother f**ker of a deal. It's just a shame she couldn't have touched down on home soil with a better offering than Hurricane Venus.

The album kicks off with "Game", which is just what BoA fans needed after a string of pretty dreary and lifeless singles. It reminded me of a cranked up version of "Lose your mind" from The face; which was the last Japanese single BoA released where she sang like she could actually be bothered.

The album title track is poo. And in the name of Hurricane Venus, it blows. It blows hard. The chorus is catchy, but the song never feels like it's going anywhere. You keep expecting the song to take off and really switch things up, but it never does. Instead you find yourself being beat around the head by auto-tune, destroyed synths and iffy repeated enunciation of the word 'Hurricane' and 'Venus' which leave BoA sound like she's calling for a 'Hurry gay penis'. "Dangerous" is pretty much the same. Replace the words "Hurricane Venus" with "Dangerous" and you have what SM try to pass off as a different song.

"Let me" is a hot song. Easily one of my faves from BoA. But there's no escaping the fact that it shares too similar a melody to "Game", to the point where it sounds like a remix or a switch within the song. The vocals are completely interchangeable. Then again, we know how the Korean music game like to be re-arranging shit like Lego. The song is a good 'un though. And BoA even wrote it herself! Which shows her foray into songwriting for Identity wasn't a complete lost cause.

"Adrenaline" sounds like a homage paid so badly to Britney's "If U seek Amy", that SM entertainment should have thrown loose change in a hoes face. The song sounds as bad as Britney's weaves look from the back. It just feels uninspired; as though between song writers, the producers and the mixer, nobody was able to come up with anything substantial.

Hurricane Venus slows things down and goes a little Pop 'n R&B-ish on two occassions. "M.E.P" is one of Hurricane Venus' shining moments. No auto-tune, a nice melody and a framework which actually has BoA shine through the music as opposed to being drowned in it. The chorus isn't all that catchy, and the structure of the song could have been a little tighter. But it is a really nice song. "Ordinary day" rings with familiarity because of its sound; but is also the very same reason why the song doesn't really work. It's samey, it's boring, it sounds outdated, and doesn't really fit the album.

The ballads on this Hurricane Venus are all snoozefests. I don't know if SM entertainment buy these boring pieces of shit songs in bulk, or if they have some contract with their ballad supplier which legally binds them to bring every SM release to a halt with one of their songs - but it needs to stop. One too many SM releases have featured too many dreary ballads. Girls' generations Oh! was top heavy with them, and it just made a bad album even worse. Nobody wants to hear Girls' generation warble over strings for half an album, and the same goes for BoA. None of the down tempo moments are as good as "Mamoritai ~White wishes~" from Identity, which I felt was one of BoA's strongest slow songs in a good while. It also doesn't help that the slow songs are chucked in-between the uptempo's. How the hell are you going to have lush produced Korean ballads with warbled out vocals sit alongside some club banger that's synthed out and has so much auto-tune it even has T-pain with his fingers in his ears!?

I cannot help but wonder what SM entertainment's A&R person was smoking when they handled Hurricane Venus. Because it's as though they followed part of the same itinerary they did for BoA's US debut; and that album was garbage and did homegirl no favours. For every uptempo on Hurricane Venus, you could probably find a song on BoA to compare it to outright. BoA is better than synths and auto-tune, so I hate that her people seem so insistent to have her rely so heavily on them. I know it's the 'in thing' in K-Pop right now. But all it has done is just make BoA another face in the crowd. She's ended up with an album full of songs that sound no worse or no better than what all of her contemporaries are putting out. BoA's been in the game 10 years, but these other chicks are bringing more heat to Inkigayo despite being in the game for 5 minutes. It should not be going down like this.

The production on this album is solid, but it smothers BoA to the point where you forget you're listening to her. The ballads highlight BoA's vocals nicely. But the uptempo songs see her playing second fiddle to the over-production. The songs would be no worse or no better if somebody else was singing them, or they featured no vocals at all. This is a problem. Because BoA should be at that point in her career where her songs could not work without her. But she's still putting out tripe that any chick could sing and get away with.

10 years in the game and lo-and-behold; BoA still hasn't locked her sound down. Identity wasn't a perfect album by any means. But at least it signalled BoA trying to find that sound for herself and her superiors letting her, and for that I'll always hold that album in some form of regard. Hurricane Venus feels like SM entertainment just wanted to set BoA in a mould which was never going to be any good for her. BoA should be putting out better albums than this. That's all there is to it. Hurricane Venus shows zero growth from a woman who is so much better than her music is currently leading us to believe.

BoA's vocal game hasn't grown a great deal. But she's most definitely singing with a confidence and energy which was completely void on 90% of Identity. She's singing like she cares and is having fun again, and this adds a nice colour to the songs; even if she is auto-tuned on 50% of them, and the songs for the most part are complete rubbish.

Hurricane Venus adds to the streak of consistently weak albums that BoA's put out since day one. The album does not feel well defined enough to stand as a memorable body of work - aside from being known as BoA's Korean comeback album after 5 years. The album features a couple of really good songs, but so did The face, BoA and Identity - and the best songs on these albums trump the highlights on Hurricane Venus. Korean fans will probably adore this album. But they won't remember it years from now. And it's certainly not the major step up from Identity I thought it was going to be based on "Game".

Take the best of this album, BoA and Identity, and you'll just about have yourself a semi-hot BoA album. Providing you bothered to cop the albums in the first place. Thank God for ripping and playlists.

3 out of 10
Album highlights
■ Game ★ J's fave
■ Let me
■ M.E.P (My electric piano)

5 comments:

  1. I was wondering when you were going to drop a review for this album. It's a shame that her Korean comeback wasn't all that, but BoA apparently did write/compose one or two of the songs on here, so I guess it's good in a way that she's keeping up her creative streak from Identity.

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  2. Korea loves their autotune and the snoozefest ballads, it helps them sleep well after a good day's work of netizen rage.... Sadly judging by 2NE1's teasers we will be getting "the same old shit but in a different package"

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  3. GOD EFFN RIGHT! I thought I was the only one that felt the album sucked....

    I love BoA, I've been a fan for 6 years but the last album from BoA that I've repetadly played was THE FACE, that was 2 years ago!

    One play of HURRICANE VENUS album and I never touched it for a month. I only like 4 songs in the album.

    Seriously, BoA, can you please release a decent album and single? It's been years since that happened.

    I feel like as a BoA fan somewhat neglected by the lack fo quality with BoA's new releases.

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  4. You're review just said about almost EVERYTHING I felt about this album, seriously. And that can be either good or bad, in BoA's case it's bad. I honestly do love the songs 'Don't Know What to Say' and 'Implode' mostly because of the lyrics. In DKWTS, I thought she sang it quite nicely, but I had a feeling that others could sing it even better. And in Imp. I loved the arrangement and lyrics, though it is a great song to listen to when you want to relax or sleep, it's one of those songs where after 3-4 listening it'd just be boring.

    I liked some of the upbeat songs like Hurricane Venus, but it was more of 'meh' than anything really =/

    My rating would be a 4/10 for this album. And that's mostly cause of the ballads. This is just sad mannnn

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  5. I think much of this is true. In today's music scene, BoA is struggling to stay afloat. There's way more competition now then there was at her debut. I think her biggest problem is finding her own image and sound as well. She is starting to feel like a generic artist that just follows the latest trends but fails to be a trendsetter themselves. For example, when being sexy was in, she quickly traded her sneakers and jeans for high heels and skirts and now that being weird and outrageous is in, she has taken on that image was well. And her music has taken on that same generic tone, though she has gained a lot of respect from me now that she's taken the liberty of writing a few songs herself here and there. What she's failing to realize is that people loved her the most when she just kept it SIMPLE. BoA was most popular when she wore average clothes, had clean dance moves, and a girl-next-door personality. The whole diva thing doesn't suit her and the sooner she realizes it the sooner she'll return to her old self and start making good music again.

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