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Flashback Friday: Crystal Kay featuring BoA - Girlfriend | Girls who flop together, flock together

Flashback Friday: Crystal Kay featuring BoA - Girlfriend | Random J Pop

I know that the last Flashback Friday featured BoA. But with it still being her 20th anniversary and this week marking 10 years since the release of Crystal Kay's single "After Love ~First Boyfriend~" which also featured "Girlfriend", this choice felt fitting.

"Girlfriend" released at a time when Crystal and BoA were both knee deep in mess and approaching a fork in the road of their careers. Crystal Kay had released an EP which did basically nothing on the ORICON chart and by this point was already planning her exit from Sony. A label she had been at since the start of her music career, which was 10 years deep at this point. BoA had released her debut English language album in the US and had it flop so hard that it forced her to re-ignite her career in South Korea and take her foot off the gas of her activities in Japan.

Crystal Kay and BoA coming together seemed out of the blue, but it was a collaboration which made sense on paper. They were both artists in the J-Music scene putting out R&B leaning Pop songs, they'd both worked with Verbal of M-Flo several times throughout the years, they were the same age and they'd both started their careers mad young. And from a fanbase perspective, I generally think most Crystal Kay fans know of BoA's music and visa-versa. But the one thing I couldn't quite get my head around was how Crystal and BoA would sound together, because their voices are so different. But then I heard the song and was like 'Oh shit, it actually works'. I still don't think BoA and Crystal's voices sound all that great together, but that's not a bad thing. Two voices don't have to sound the same or even similar for a collab to work. Sometimes the contrast is the exact thing which makes it work. The most important thing is chemistry and good arrangements, and "Girlfriend" has both.

BoA sounds better than she usually does (she knew she had to step that vocal pussy up in the presence of Crystal) and the two of them are actually friends, which comes through not only in the song, but their live performances. Both of them were completely over situations which were happening in their music careers, so this was a nice moment of respite for the two of them to just sing a cute song and not have to worry about heavy promo, a dance routine or album cycles for a minute.

After the blip that was "Flash" and the cute, but a bit boring "After Love ~First Boyfriend~", "Girlfriend" was a ray of light for me as a Crystal Kay fan. To just slap this on "After Love ~First Boyfriend~" as a B-Side was a mess. "Girlfriend" absolutely should have been an A-side single and had a video. But this was a case of Crystal once again being screwed over by Sony. "Girlfriend" impacted radio in June for the Summer, hence the sound (it was used for the Japanese release of the film He's Just Not That Into You). "After Love ~First Boyfriend~" was clearly intended for Winter. But rather than release "Girlfriend" on its own as a Summer single in June or July, Sony decided to sit on it and make it a B-side to "After Love ~First Boyfriend~" which was released in August; far too early for it to be considered the Winter, Christmas jam Sony wanted it to be. So Sony lost out on a shot at a Summer and a Winter hit. But they probably couldn't care less and Crystal knew it. Hence Crystal's next album for them being her last.

But, as long as you got friends, right!

It'd be interesting to hear what a collab between Crystal Kay and BoA would sound like now. I'd really like to hear Crystal Kay on a song with BoA in Korean.

🔙 Another CK Flashback: Crystal Kay - Girl U Love
💿 Crystal Kay album reviews: For You | Shine | Vivid | Spin The Music | Color Change! | All Yours | Call Me Miss...
📀 A Crystal Kay Dance album: Euphoria
🎧 Playlists: This is Crystal Kay | This is (some of) Crystal Kay

💿 BoA album reviews: Starry Night | Woman | One Shot, Two Shot | Hurricane VenusIdentity | BoAThe Face