Flashback Friday: BoA - Only one | The awakening of BoA and the snatcher of my wig

BoA - Only one | Random J Pop

With BoA having released her 9th Korean studio album Woman a few weeks ago and me not hating it. Lemme throw back to the moment when BoA finally won me over after years of me denying the bitch.

Well...'denying the bitch' probably isn't 100% true.

I've always had a not-quite-love / hate relationship with BoA. For years I was never the biggest fan of her music. In fact, I hated much of it. BoA always gave me the odd great song here and there. But there was no consistency. Her releases were like the lottery.

BoA has always been a star, but never an artist. She always looked the part, moved well and released the kind of music that burnt up charts. But I always felt that BoA was playing an act or being made to project a Korean take on a US pop star, as opposed to being allowed to truly find herself and just be that. BoA was often referred to the 'Korean Britney' and I kinda see it. Not necessarily in terms of her style, but her nasally ass vocals, her being able to dance and the general manufacturing of everything about her. My continual criticism of BoA was always that I had no sense of who she was. From her music, to her fashion sense, it was always so disposable, forged and 'anybody'. But even in the midst of this, I knew there was something there. That there was either something that was being suppressed or what was yet to realise itself. BoA was too talented, tenacious and had too much hustle going for her for it to not be the case. I knew that much.

I soon got sick of BoA though. Not just sick of her lack of growth or evolution. But just sick of what felt like a constant torrent of releases. Korean albums. Japanese albums. Korean albums. Japanese albums. An English album. A Japanese Best album featuring a second disc with the English album. BoA wasn't being given the space or time to figure out who she was, because she was always on the verge of releasing something.

But BoA put her Korean music career on the back seat in 2005 and then decided to spam Japan with releases and try her hand at the US. K-Pop wouldn't see a Korean release from BoA until mid 2010 with her comeback Hurricane Venus, which bafflingly showed very little growth; despite releasing a Japanese album in February of 2010 which saw her take creative control of her music and give us something that did show growth. There was a massive disconnect between K-Pop BoA and J-Pop BoA. One which still exists now. But K-Pop BoA is her bread and butter career. It's where she started and will always be home for her. And it wasn't until the 2012 release of Only one where we saw a change and I felt like I finally got to see BoA in her true form, where she went full blown super saiyan with the dancing in the music video.

Only one felt like a reawakening. Not only did BoA return with a song she'd written herself, but it was void of any gimmick, any trend bandwagoning and the video stripped BoA right down to the one thing she'd always been known for. Dancing. And, sweet Jesus, did a bitch dance.


You can put me on record to say that "Only one" has one of the best routines I've seen in a pop video. I'mma put it up there with a Michael, a Janet and a Beyoncé. The choreography is iconic. For a routine to go THAT hard to a song so soft?! It shouldn't work, but it does. And for BoA to be dancing with a bunch of professional dancers and not just keep up, but dance on par with them and make it look effortless?! Talent. She ate the choreography up and projectile shat it out. It's something that you can't teach and was a true showcase of what separates BoA. This was the first time I felt I could put BoA in a completely different category to her peers.

She'd finally delivered a full package.

I'd scoff when people would call BoA a Queen or a Legend. But I had to concede when I saw this video and heard this song. She really was at that level.

I don't know why SM bothered wasting money on a drama version of the music video. Who the fuck is going would rather watch BoA sit in a Starbucks than dance her pussy off in the street!?

BoA was also the low key queen of equal opportunity and diversity in K-Pop. Because there were only two Koreans in that back-up squad. She had a black dude in there. A white dude. A mixed race dude. Taeyeon would never.

From "Only one" onwards BoA would finally take the reigns of her career and put music out on her terms. Co-writing and co-producing her own songs and having an air about her in her music video that shows complete contentment and control. She's doing this because she wants to. Not because she has something to prove.

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