BoA’s career forms the architecture of K-pop’s success in Japan, and she’s rightfully celebrating her 20th anniversary in Japan with all the pomp and circumstance that milestone deserves. A title like “The Greatest” may feel a bit cringey as part of other acts’ discographies, but it suits BoA just fine. The real question is: does the song itself live up to this lofty title?
BoA has quite a few Japanese gems in her discography. I’m especially partial to her mid-2010’s work like Shout It Out, First Time and Lookbook. The Greatest shares some DNA with those hits, particularly in its crunchy electro groove. I love the texture in the production. Though the arrangement is quite standard for this type of track, there are many cool synth tones to uncover if you dive just below the hood. The chugging beat that underlines the post-chorus is particularly striking. With a dancer as skilled as BoA, you must fuel her performance with a great instrumental. Apart from its overly-familiar pre-chorus, The Greatest does this with flair.
With those strong building blocks, its up to The Greatest‘s melody to drive the song home. Sadly, the hooks are just okay. They come and go without landing many memorable punches. BoA sells them the way she always does, and her effortless charisma elevates the track. The verses are powerful without devolving into shouting, while the pre-chorus gives her a chance to stretch her vocals. The chorus continues along these lines, yet doesn’t quite land for me. Still, this is a solid addition to a strong and prolific Japanese discography.