Album review: BoA - BoA

Album review: BoA - BoA | Random J Pop

BoA's past few Japanese releases leading up to her English language debut have been patchy to say the least. So will a new language and a couple of well known hit makers help the music? 


I haven't heard so many synths, vocoders, blips, whizzes and electronic pulses in the space of half an hour since watching Tron on DVD with a Dolby 5.1 setup. A couple of tracks of this is tolerable, but a whole album is way too much. Especially when the songs aren't even that good. The decision to work the electro pop sound on BoA's album and then auto tune her vocals for 80% of it defeats the object of the album: to showcase BoA's talents to western audiences. Fans of her music and those up on J and K-Pop will know that BoA has it in her to hold a tune and sound decent. But you'd never know it based on this album, and this is where the things begins to fall.

Opening song "I did it for love" sets the tone for the bulk of the album: forgettable club tripe, with vocoding, bad diction and forgettable lyrics. The song also features the man behind the song, Sean Garrett; who brings nothing to the song what-so-ever. "Energetic" see's Sean 'Hear a smash on the radio bet I didn't pen it' Garrett making yet another appearance and showing us how first time wasn't the charm when it came to club tripe. "I did it for love" at least is easy to latch onto, "Energetic" is just a mess. In club after a few drinks you would move to this, but it's not the kind of song you'd ever want to sit at home and listen to, because the song is just so monotonous and doesn't go anywhere. "Look who's talking" is a left over track from a Britney album (I'm going to guess from either In the zone or her Greatest hits) and it sounds like it. BoA probably thought she struck gold with a Britney left over, but she thought wrong. The song doesn't suit her. To drop a song in the US declaring how 'everybody is talking about you and that everybody wants to give it to you', when a large percentage of the country don't know or don't care who you are is a choice. She should've saved this song for a Korean or Japanese release, in places where BoA is a bonafide star. The song carries no weight on her US debut.

BoA isn't completely void of good songs. "Eat you up" was a song I thought was pretty boring and bog standard when I first heard it. But in comparison to the rest of the album, the song is actually rather decent and a highlight. A definite grower. "Obsessed" sounds like a musical knock off of Britney's "If U seek Amy" mashed up with a bit of Rihanna's "Disturbia". The song is good, but BoA's vocal game is so weak and the frenetic musical backdrop doesn't mask it, not even a little. This would make a good single though, because it'd get white people dancing in the clubs. It's very much on trend and has an anthemic quality to it, which gives it hit potential.

The one and only song on the album that stands out for me as being really, really good is "Did ya" - sounding very much like Britney's "Toxic". A great song which should be considered for a single. Many will compare her to Britney as a result of the song sounding like her's, but on an album where single choices are scarce, beggers cannot be choosers. Every time I listen to the song I cannot help but think how it would have sounded in the hands of Crystal Kay. But BoA does good. Her diction and her vocals are really good here, and there's no autotune. It makes you wonder what happened with the rest of the songs.

BoA had a real chance to prove herself with this album and she blew it. Nothing about this album showcases BoA well. There is far too much emphasis on BoA's vocals being manipulated and affected. If you thought the vocal trickery on Britney's Blackout album was serious, wait until you hear this. The whole album sounds like left over material from Britney's Blackout and Circus albums. The studio trickery would've been forgivable if the songs were actually good, but they're not. Britney at least had a bunch of hot songs amidst all the studio trickery. BoA has perhaps 1 or 2. The songs are listenable, but far from being highlights or career defining songs that fans will remember over her Korean or Japanese discography. And certainly not a collection of songs that those outside of VocodoA's fan base will remember years or even months from now.

BoA should've waited until her English was at a level where she could sing in it without sounding iffy. Because not only does her diction vary from song to song, she doesn't always sound confident. You can hear the effort she's making when she sings. The girl who ran circles around the beat and fluttered from the high's to low's on "Eien" and swagged her way through "My name" is lost here. Her voice sounds really screechy and pitchy, more than usual. The producers didn't take into consideration how he would sound on radio. They just overloaded the music with noise and auto tuned her vocals, which wasn't much of a solution. Only on the albums' standout song "Did ya" does BoA actually sing void of auto-tune, and with a confidence and swagger like she wants to stand up and be noticed. It's a shame the elements that made "Did ya" a good song and allowed BoA to shine weren't extended to more of the album. It's not like producers had nothing to work with. Brian Kennedy, Bloodshy & Avant and Sean Garrett have all worked with ladies with nowhere near the vocal talent of BoA, yet gave them great songs and had them sounding decent. Something clearly went wrong here.

To be really blunt, BoA is a lacklustre album. All BoA does on this album is fade behind all of the studio wizardry to the point where you'd be hard pressed to tell BoA is even singing some of the songs. BoA's past few Japanese albums are much better than her US debut. Had the songs on a couple of these albums had been re-arranged into English, they would've made better songs than what made the BoA track list. "My name", "Lose your mind", "Brave", "No more make me sick" and "Eien" are a few of the songs that could've been re-worked into English and made decent songs for BoA - but instead we get a whack sounding version of "Girls on top" and a load of album filler. Unfortunately for US fans, there's no disc of her Japanese material in a nice Best & USA package to soften the blow of how dusty this album is.

There are much better, sexier pop records out there right now than this one. Rihanna's Good girl gone bad, Britney's Blackout, Lady Gaga's The fame, Utada's This is the one - take your pick. Download "Did ya" from iTunes and forget the rest. BoA has the potential to do much better music than what she's been putting out as of late, which makes the quality of her releases even more frustrating. BoA needs to step out of the lime light for a while and re-evaluate her music, because she's been falling off musically for years and is showing no sign of slowing the descent.

RATING: 3 / 10

Album highlights:
■ Did ya ★ J's fave
■ Eat you up
■ Obsessed
■ Dress off
■ Hypnotic dancefloor


  1. Nice review, which I'd have to agree with for the most part!!! I'd give the album 5/10 though, or 2.5/5 :-)

  2. Also unfortunetaly for US fans, there's no disc. At all. No one can find it in stores anywhere, (some places didn't even know that she exsists), and iTunes is charging full price but leaving out two songs.
    "Did Ya" was the better song on the album, but for me that was because I liked the original music in "Music & Lyrics"

  3. It's astonishing the quality and quantity of J-music.

  4. Nice review - been waiting for the BoA review. I've read on the internet that it's 'flying off the selves' in the US. Was wondering if it was any good or not.

    Just listen to Did Ya - I'm downloading that when I get home, it's not my type of muisc but it's the kind of song I'll happily dance to in a club or a party. Not so keen on Obsessed though. Thanks for sharing!

  5. You dont speak about "touched" which is one of my favourites with energetic, did ya and hypnotic

  6. Kind of funny seeing someone remark on Boa's English, yet repeatedly use "annunciation" when you mean "enunciation".

    I don't think the album's all that crappy -- spectacular? Not by a long shot. Better than Utada's second (or are we on three?) attempt? Possibly.

    If her label would market her a little better (why not release the English album AFTER she's done promoting in Japan?)and released 'I Did it For Love' or 'Obsessed' as her first single, I think Boa could be standing out a lot more right now. Oh yeah, maybe some RADIOPLAY would help too.

    Wanna know why Utada broke the top 100? Besides the radioplay? 'Come Back to Me' sounds like Alicia Keys, and people like artists that relate to other artists they like. You're right saying 'Obsessed' sounds like it could be 'If U Seek Amy' and Rihanna (though I'm thinking more 'S.O.S-ish"). I believe those similarities could work in Boa's favor. Similar enough, but not the same.

    I'm just hoping they're waiting to release 'Obsessed' during the summer or something, or her label has really dug her into the ground (I mean, come on - vocal-wise she wipes Miley Cyrus 30x over!)

  7. I used wrong word twice: hardly repeatedly. I don't think that qualifies me to be compared to BoA's iffy English and her "♪ Like I beco' some kine o' deemor in di niiii ♪"

    No WAY is this album better than Hikaru Utada's 'This is the one'. Even 'Exodus' is better than 'BoA' and that album was patchy, inconsistent and had iffy vocal performances from Utada on many a track.

    I don't think "Come back to me" sounds like Alicia Keys at all. It's familiarity stems from who produced it. Stargate have given many artists that sound, all of whom who've had hits with it. Plus, it's a pretty good song. Not brilliant, but it had single potential.

    And sorry to say, but Miley Cyrus sounds better than BoA does on this album. At least she's not auto-tuned all the time and sounds like she has some life in her. BoA sounds like text-to-speech software on 10 of the tracks. It's not even like she needed to be auto-tuned on every song. She sounded fine if a little shaky on "Did ya". All the auto-tune does is highlight how iffy her 'enunciation' and english singing voice is. It didn't mask it as well as producers thought it would.

  8. Your reviews are quite professional and hardcore, you forgot to mention my favourite song, Touched too.

    My others favourites are Energetic, Hypontic Dancefloor, Dress Off, Eat You Up and I Did it For Love.


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