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Day 31: BoA – “Only One” (2012)
Genre: Pop / Dance / RnB
Korea has a Britney. Her name is BoA, she dances better, sings better and hasn’t fucked up her life – at least not publicly. It’s gotten a bit quiet around BoA since her massive 2010 comeback, but I do think her 2012 EP Only One is worth a look. So that’s what I’m gonna do.
Only One starts on the title track, a mellow RnB number that meshes punctuated dance beats into a piano, acoustic guitar and strings backing. It’s in stark contrast to other dance songs of the time, building up a natural, authentic aura while still being clearly cut out for a dance routine. BoA’s vocals are clear and light and add to the song effectively, making it feel quite fresh.
If BoA is famous for one thing, it’s insanely catchy, powerful dance tracks. And this EP is no exception. The Shadow is laid back, oozing in style and feels a bit like a show-off. It’s an electrifying beat, charged with sensuality and force, made for her to dance to. A distorted guitar is tuning in and out of the background to add some texture – and that’s all the song needs.
The transition into 네모난 바퀴, a midtempo, orchestrated ballad, is a bit odd and the song is nothing to write home about, either, but I do like the arrangement – continuously building up, breaking down, reconstructing. The piano especially is used effectively and creatively rather than just mechanically working through chords.
Where the previous transition failed, the transition into Not Over U works really, really well. Not Over U essentially is a blend between Only One and The Shadow, featuring the instrumental aesthetics of the former and the explosive, punctuated nature of the latter. The chorus breaks down the entire arrangement, replacing it with a modern EDM breakdown – to great effect. It’s fun – and that’s all I’m looking for in BoA.
In The Top, more fun it is! The song reminds me of the wave of mid-2000s European electropop before the genre invaded the US and world markets. There’s a dirty, gritty kind of self-satisfaction in it that just works for BoA. The chorus is a bit weak and repetitive, partly down to her vocals – but the attitude present makes up for it.
Mayday! Mayday! is the weakest, blandest type of ballad you can imagine. It lacks the playful, expressive nature of 네모난 바퀴 and, instead, is just replaceable and forgettable.
Oh my, what is happening here? The EP was such an enjoyable experience for the first 15 minutes and then two pieces of pure dreck come together! One Dream features two male guest singers I’m unfamiliar with, boygroup members as far as I know, and you can probably guess how tacky and bland the song is from that title.
Only One is a pretty good pop EP if you pretend the last two songs don’t exist. BoA is confident and trying out new arrangement choices effectively, creating easily forgotten pop songs that are quite fun while they last. She’s done better, but Only One wasn’t a waste of time.