On her currently-streaming documentary, BoA has professed a desire to release music that appeals to the current generation of k-pop fans. Her concerns are valid: Why listen to an established artist like BoA when there are so many younger, trendier groups on the scene? Why not fuel her choreography with a simple, meme-ready point move — even though we know she’s capable of much more complex routines? She’s at the stage of her career where she has to choose between appealing to trends or continuing to stick to her signature sound. It’s a dilemma all successful artists have to face eventually, and there’s no right or wrong answer.
New pre-release single Nega Dola (내가돌아) plays it down the middle, borrowing a bit of the old but grafting it to a hip-hop style that feels new for BoA. To be clear, she possesses enough charisma to pull off just about anything. And she very nearly does when it comes to the song’s flimsy rap verses — but the attempt still carries a hint of pandering that doesn’t go down well. A guest rapper might have helped, but I’d just assume nix the rap altogether. There are more interesting melodies that could have acted as a substitute and still supported Nega Dola’s hip-hop vibe. BoA is much more successful when letting her brilliant vocals take center stage, whether that’s during the song’s slinky, rhythmic verses or the tonally diverse chorus.
The production is a jumble of ideas, throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the mix. We’ve got acoustic guitar, tabla-esque trap beats and a healthy dose of that frustratingly pervasive lurching synth all the k-pop groups are calling “future bass.” There’s a bit too much going on, and the song’s ability to compel varies greatly depending on which moment you happen to be listening to. In the end, BoA’s energy and polished performance makes it all worth it, but not in quite the same way as her best material.
You’re right… this song is quite funky and groovy to listen to, but like you said, BoA wanted a song that gave her image as a cool and hip unnie, not a female “warrior” image who always claimed to be strong and powerful (My Name, Moto, Eat You Up, etc.). Yoo Young-Jin did co-compose this song and Bad Boy, so that’s good to hear, but I feel like he could have brought stronger, cleaner production like he did from Girls On Top (which he could do, but possibly not likely now). It’s not a bad song and BoA is totally fine with whatever she wants to do. However, if I was to compare this song to Camo, I would have to definitely choose Camo, because that song totally screams her. This… is just a half-successful attempt to sound cool and trendy.
But at the same time, since she has done so many charismatic and powerful concepts, I feel like I am naturally biased towards those eras. I probably won’t get used to her “lighter” sides that easily, which I have to work on 😦
I think part of the problem with the production is that there’s just too many cooks in the kitchen. Yes, Yoo Young-Jin was credited as one of the producers, but he was only one of four. When you get so many people involved in the creation of a song, I feel like sometimes it takes away from what could be an idiosyncratic vision and begins to feel more generic.
SM’s been using these “song camps” more and more over the past few years, and I’m not sure it’s always the best choice.
I just hope that when it’s time for TVXQ to make their comeback, they go with a solo YYJ composition.
Hmmm…I actually felt this was one of BoA’s best song in years. When she said she wanted to make a sound that was lighter and catchier, I really thought it would be crap and didn’t like that BoA wanted to cave in to the trends. But this song brings me back to her early days (if anyone remembers that). It’s actually really good to me. It’s my bop.
Of course, it’s not powerful like Camo, but Camo wasn’t appreciated by the public.
This song isn’t even really a hip-hop song. XD It’s more like urban pop, which she has done.
I’ll probably mention this when I review BoA’s upcoming title track, but I’m actually surprised at how much Nega Dola has grown on me since posting this review.
That’s been a trend with quite a few songs in January, like Momoland and Rainz … both of which I’d easily bump into the 8’s now.
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