K-pop legend BoA has returned with her tenth Korean album, celebrating twenty (!) years since her debut. That kind of career is rare for any pop star, but the K-pop industry tends to be extra fickle. The fact that BoA remains such a dynamic presence is a testament to her skill, charisma and willingness to transform with the ages. As the title of her new album suggests, nobody does it Better.
Given BoA’s status, it’s time to recount past glories and modernize them for new audiences. Better pairs her with longtime collaborator Yoo Young-Jin, whose tight vocal layering and staccato melodies are all over the track. Better samples an exciting, off-beat bass loop from Scandinavian artist Awa’s 2019 track Like I Do, and the sound fits right into the K-pop lexicon. This beat drives much of the verses, creeping forward on a rhythmic energy. The pre-chorus brings in swoops of strings, which have a slightly eerie appeal. Their presence grows more grandiose during the chorus, bringing a stately swell befitting the Queen of K-pop.
Better’s core melody will feel familiar to longtime fans. It echoes many past hits, particularly the verses of English-language debut Eat You Up. Though the hook is tightly structured, there’s also a looseness and ease to it. This continues into the bridge, as BoA stretches her vocals before plunging into a rugged dance break. Young-jin’s instantly-recognizable voice pops up here and there for support, giving the song a throwback vibe. The two are a match made in heaven, and even though they’ve delivered stronger material in the past (Girls On Top says hi!), it’s delightful to hear them together on a track again.
So HERE WE GO, the Turn Back Time trilogy, presented to you by Moonshine and SM, has finally come to a conclusion at BoA. The same bass kick (swinging like I’m bruce leeeeeee) and the transition growl? but in R&B form.
There is a weird disjoint in this song, the form and song craft is so classic R&B at its golden age, but it kind of feels desperate to decorate with new trendy production and sample packs. In the variety to promote this comeback she expressed a lot of insecurity about falling behind time and trend, in all honesty the approach in this song kind of work against her on this. I really wish the approach could be close to “Be Natural”, or even “Stupid Love” by lady gaga then it would me more of a monumental release.
Oh I’m in love with this! Those male vocal backings are just gorgeous and the bridge complement the song perfectly. We’ll see how time treats it, but right now I’d say this may sneak its way into my 2020 top ten!
Also, the album is maybe her best in a decade? Up there with Kiss My Lips, in my opinion. That L.O.V.E + Cut Me Off + Got Me Good + Honey & Diamonds + Start Over sequence is golden, and her voice has aged like fine wine.
I’m campaining for L.O.V.E to get single treatment!
Really solid! It’s inspiring to see BOA still killing it in an industry that puts so much emphasis on youth.
Ahh yes! My time to shine ahaha.
After a couple of listens, I am satisfied with Better, but I do wish it did lean towards Be Natural too. It sounded like there were elements borrowed from those songs… which made it a bit messy imo.
But still, I think it’s pretty awesome. The b-sides like Temptations, L.O.V.E, Cut Me Off, Got Me Good, etc. are rock solid
I really like the song! But her presence, her dancing, her whole aura it´s what makes it so good. It´s such a joy to watch this woman. The album has been letting me down a little, the 9th album remains superior in my opinion. Though, maybe i need to listen to it a bit more.