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.