BoA – Milestone

January 29, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Posted in BoA | Leave a comment
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Milestone is BoA’s 32nd single (1st DVD single) and it was released on December 7, 2011. Technically a DVD release with a bonus disc containing the single, it reached #4 on the Oricon Weekly DVD charts and sold 7,722 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Milestone is the first Japanese song by BoA that I have genuinely liked in a loooong time. After releasing such duds like her last album IDENTITY and the WOO WEEKEND single in 2010, I was beginning to lose faith (in her Japanese music at least). Luckily Milestone proves to be a shining ray of hope and a worthy song to commemorate her 10th anniversary in Japan. A simplistic ballad comprised of mostly piano, BoA’s vocals proved to be the strongest factor of the song. She sounds absolutely radiant, her voice sounding better since those 2010 releases. The only drawback is that the song is way too short and the ending very abrupt. After the final chorus at the 3 minute mark, the song just ends like that.

The B-side was originally a digital single released in December 2010. I thought I SEE ME was pretty good and a nice follow-up to Milestone. The music is more upbeat and has a jazzy sound to it.

Also included on the single is the “BEST&USA Version” of Meri Kuri, her popular Christmas ballad. I thought it was kind of strange that it was placed on here since it was already on the compilation album BEST&USA which was released almost 3 years ago. Anyway, compared to the original this version is simpler with the primary focus on the piano and BoA’s vocals once again.

Pros: I think Milestone is a beautiful song.
Cons: It doesn’t provide a sense of closure because of its sudden ending. I’m hoping for a full version if BoA releases another album.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Milestone
2. I SEE ME
3. Meri Kuri ~BEST&USA Version~ (メリクリ)
4. Milestone -Instrumental-
5. I SEE ME -Instrumental-
6. Meri Kuri ~BEST&USA Version~ -Instrumental-

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BoA – IDENTITY

February 19, 2010 at 8:59 PM | Posted in BoA | 22 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

IDENTITY is BoA’s 7th Japanese album and it was released on February 10, 2010. The album reached #4 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 37,606 copies.

Oooh, she’s trying to be all edgy and stuff. I will never like her with short hair though.

♦ ♦ ♦

What the hell happened, BoA? IDENTITY has got to the most disappointing thing she’s ever released. There are plenty of reasons why this album was a disaster so let’s start with the negatives. Don’t worry fans, I have some nice things to say.

Most importantly, I don’t care if the album is “self-produced”. That doesn’t matter at all because many of the songs are just plain bad. Just sing since you have no idea what you’re doing, girl. ;D Anyway, I was most annoyed with the upbeat songs. The music is nice, especially in tracks like EASY and LAZER, but her awful vocals ruin them. She sounds so bored and she’s practically half-assing it in both songs. EASY is absolutely intolerable now. The best upbeat song is by far BUMP BUMP! feat. VERBAL (m-flo) since she didn’t sound like a lifeless drone in it. There’s also Neko Love. I would normally find this song to be annoying as hell since she’s constantly spelling out her name (B-O-A, B-O-A, B-O-A) but believe it or not, it’s one of the better tracks.

And I had my share of laughs at the two interludes as well. They are so pointless and stupid!

Okay, enough of being mean for the time being. XD The album’s strongest asset would be the mid-tempo tracks. From the jazzy opening and ending tracks This Is Who I Am and my all to her duet with ~natural beauty~ Daichi Miura (Possibility), these songs represent the best of the album. Yep, that also includes Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ and the extended version of its B-side THE END Soshite and…. I personally liked the piano and rain effects added to the beginning even though it makes the song over 7 minutes long. I didn’t care for is this love and fallin’ though. The latter track kinda sucks for its use of autotune. Save that crap for your next English album, BoA!

So what really makes IDENTITY her worst album to date? I just didn’t see any effort put into it. Most of the album comes off as lazy and underproduced, which is ironic since it’s “OMG SELF-PRODUCED”. Wrong! Only 4 of the tracks were actually produced by her. So much for that. Recalling what one of my blogger friends said, the album should be retitled “IDENTITY CRISIS”. To be honest, I thought past albums like MADE IN TWENTY (20) and THE FACE showed more growth and development. IDENTITY is a huge step back and I feel like BoA has hit rock bottom.

Pros: Tracks 7 through 11…This Is Who I Am and BUMP BUMP! too. lol
Cons: Everything else was pretty damn awful. LA LA LA~

BASICALLY…the only thing that was produced here was a FLOP.

Overall Rating

2½ stars

Tracklisting

1. This Is Who I Am
2. EASY
3. BUMP BUMP! feat. VERBAL (m-flo)
4. LAZER
5. interlude#1
6. is this love
7. Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ (まもりたい ~White Wishes~)
8. interlude#2
9. Neko Love (ネコラブ)
10. THE END Soshite and… (album ver.) (THE END そして and…)
11. Possibility duet with Daichi Miura (Possibility duet with 三浦大知)
12. fallin’
13. my all

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

BoA – Mamoritai ~White Wishes~

December 16, 2009 at 9:00 PM | Posted in BoA | 12 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ (まもりたい ~White Wishes~) is BoA’s 30th single and it was released on December 9, 2009. The single reached #3 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 47,836 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the video game Tales of Graces.

Looks like BoA is hanging out in a dark alley while wearing a trenchcoat. That’s suspicious…

♦ ♦ ♦

I really don’t know what to say about Mamoritai ~White Wishes~. The song isn’t bad but it’s just kind of…there. This is your typical pop track but the arrangement mixes in random synth and beats. There’s nothing special, really. Compared to her last single BUMP BUMP! (which was pretty fun) I wasn’t feeling this track. On the Tales of Graces edition of the single, there’s an edited version for the video game as well as an English version. I don’t recommend listening to it though since it has corny lyrics.

For some reason, I liked the B-side a little bit more. Even though the title is dumb, THE END Soshite and… has a decent, mid-tempo R&B sound. However, the song is almost 6 minutes long and has a tendency to drag. That’s my only complaint.

On a completely random note, what’s the BEST HIT MEGA BLEND doing on the Tales of Graces version? It was already on this single. I guess avex is trying to persuade the video game nerds to buy BEST&USA. lol

Pros: THE END Soshite and… gets points for being different…I suppose.
Cons: The A-side is definitely NOT A-side material.

Overall Rating

3 stars

BASICALLY…better luck next time, BoA.

Tracklisting

CD+DVD and CD only editions
1. Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ (まもりたい ~White Wishes~)
2. THE END Soshite and… (THE END そして and…)
3. BUMP BUMP! feat. VERBAL (m-flo) KOZM・MIX [First pressing bonus track]
4. Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ (INST)
5. THE END Soshite and… (INST)

Tales of Graces edition
1. Mamoritai ~White Wishes~
2. Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ (Tales of Graces Version)
3. Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ (English Version)
4. Mamoritai ~White Wishes~ (Karaoke)
5. BEST HIT MEGA BLEND

BoA – BUMP BUMP! feat. VERBAL (m-flo)

November 6, 2009 at 10:05 AM | Posted in BoA | 5 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

BUMP BUMP! feat. VERBAL (m-flo) is BoA’s 29th single and it was released on October 28, 2009. The single reached #8 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 12,706 copies.

Sorry BoA. I’m not digging that “look”. This cover is okay but the other one is just plain awful. Stupid girl and her fish lips. </3

♦ ♦ ♦

What? BoA released an English album? *pretends it never happened* XD

ANYWAY, her last single in Japan was that awesome triple A-side (I still have Eien and UNIVERSE on repeat) so I was expecting great things from BUMP BUMP!. The song is still taking some time to fully sink in but I will say that it is pretty catchy and the music isn’t bad. Next to the beats, there is a prominent brass arrangement that I thought was nice. BoA’s vocals are good too and I liked VERBAL’s short rapping section.

The B-side also features VERBAL. The slower paced IZM focuses more on the frequent beats and light synth. Also, this song has a stronger R&B sound and BoA showcases some high quality vocals. Once again, VERBAL’s rap is short…perhaps too short.

Pros: I thought both tracks were good and had a high production value.
Cons: Nothing really stood out though. Like I said, they will most likely grow on me.

BASICALLY…more R&B, BoA! It works well for you!

Overall Rating

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. BUMP BUMP! feat. VERBAL (m-flo)
2. IZM feat. VERBAL (m-flo)
3. BUMP BUMP! feat. VERBAL (m-flo) INST
4. IZM feat. VERBAL (m-flo) INST

BoA – Eien / UNIVERSE feat. Crystal Kay & VERBAL (m-flo) / Believe in LOVE feat. BoA (Acoustic Version)

March 4, 2009 at 1:29 PM | Posted in BoA | 4 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Eien (永遠)
2. UNIVERSE feat. Crystal Kay & VERBAL (m-flo)
3. Believe in LOVE feat. BoA (Acoustic Version)
4. BEST HIT MEGA BLEND
    [First pressing bonus track]
5. Eien (Instrumental)
6. UNIVERSE feat. Crystal Kay & VERBAL (m-flo) 
    (Instrumental)

This is BoA’s 28th single and it was released on February 18, 2009. The single reached #8 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 15,074 copies.

I really do love Eien! It’s a very strong track that showcases an American sound next to standard J-pop sensibilities and I think this really works out for BoA.  The song is extremely catchy and a great mix of pop and light R&B as well. The Western influences in the song are most evident in the chorus where male background vocals appear and say something like “Ayyyy!” (lol). I’ve been hearing it on a lot on top 40 radio so it’s a pretty popular thing right now. Anyway, I think this is a fantastic track from BoA and one of her most impressive A-sides to date.

It took a little bit longer to grow on me but I love the next track too. BoA teams up Crystal Kay and VERBAL for UNIVERSE, a very cool and sleek R&B song. They all know each other through the “m-flo loves” project so I was really glad to see the 3 of them make a track like this. Filled with stoic beats and funky synth riffs, I think the music is awesome despite its overall simplicity. BoA and Crystal Kay sound great together and I really like VERBAL’s rapping sections, believe it or not.

The acoustic version of Believe in LOVE feat. BoA is next. The original ravex version is incredible but the acoustic version just doesn’t compare. The guitar chords are repetitive and don’t seem to flow well with BoA’s vocals, making this version sound quite messy. The song just doesn’t sound as good when performed with just acoustics so it’s extremely inferior to the original, making this the only low point of the single.

Also included as a first pressing bonus track is a BEST HIT MEGA BLEND used to promote her upcoming BEST&USA compilation album. The mega blend includes 7 songs and they have all been remixed with very smooth transitions between each song too. The overall package has been executed extremely well and it’s a nice bonus on the single. 
The songs that appear are:

  • Sweet Impact
  • Dakishimeru (抱きしめる)
  • Winter Love
  • Eien (永遠)
  • LOVE LETTER
  • Nanairo no Ashita ~brand new beat~ (七色の明日~brand new beat~)
  • DO THE MOTION

Overall Rating

4½ stars

BoA – Vivid

June 25, 2008 at 4:44 PM | Posted in BoA | 5 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Kissing you
2. Sparkling
3. Joyful Smile
4. Kissing you (Instrumental)
5. Sparkling (Instrumental)
6. Joyful Smile (Instrumental)

This is BoA’s 27th single and it was released on June 4, 2008. The single reached #5 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 29,304 copies. The first track was used as the theme song for the drama 7nin no Onna Bengoshi 2.

This triple A-side single opens with my favorite song on it: the simple, yet catchy Kissing you. For BoA’s standards, the song doesn’t present anything new but I found it to be really charming and fun. The song is simple in nature and pretty much within the realm of upbeat pop too. Her vocals are lovely as well, perfectly matching the music’s lighthearted atmosphere and beats. Even though this song is quite uneventful, I still enjoyed it.

The 2nd track, Sparkling, is more of a dance tune and utilizes a synth arrangement next to some light beats. I thought this song was okay and not as good as Kissing you. Except for the catchy every me, every you line from the chorus, it’s unmemorable.

Up next is Joyful Smile, another cutesy pop track done in the same style as Kissing you. However, this song isn’t as interesting or as catchy. I know that this is a triple A-side single, but it felt like pure B-side material or something that wasn’t good enough to make it on BoA’s latest album THE FACE. This single felt rushed anyway since it was released to promote her tour.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

BoA – THE FACE

March 20, 2008 at 5:38 PM | Posted in BoA | 16 Comments
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The cover of the CD+2DVD edition

THE FACE is BoA’s 6th Japanese album and it was released on February 27, 2008. The album reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 185,388 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Let’s say I love you, it’s so easy! I love the opening line of the album’s explosive intro track AGGRESSIVE. The accumulating synth of the beginning bursts into a flurry of strings and dance beats, making this song really exciting. The chorus is really catchy with its simple, yet invigorating melody too. Despite the title, this actually isn’t the most aggressive song on the album (that award would go to Girl In The Mirror which I’ll fill you in on later), but it’s still really fun.

Following the same style is Sweet Impact, the first single released for the album. This song isn’t as bad as I first perceived it mostly because of its placement after AGGRESSIVE and the use of catchy synth. I still find the song to be sort of generic, but it’s the “good” kind of generic.

Hey, a song featuring a Japanese rapper than I don’t totally hate! My Way, Your Way feat. WISE is a sad tune hidden behind fluffy, upbeat pop. The rapping sections provided by WISE are not bad at all and his voice oddly compliments the music. The same goes with the parts where BoA provides some backup vocals.

The album also has its fair share of ballads, starting with be with you.. What I didn’t mention when I reviewed the single is that the lyrics are written from the point of view of a dog (if you’ve seen the PV then you’ll know I mean). This really made me see the song in a different light and I started to appreciate it more because of the song’s theme of companionship. Lyrics aside, it’s an overall pleasant song with pretty vocals.

The transition into LOSE YOUR MIND is weird but it works out for this funky, but stylish song. Blending together dance beats, a brass section, and electric guitars riffs from Yutaka Furukawa, the music is quite abstract. The lyrics are sort of mindless too, but they go well with the song’s overall offbeat atmosphere.

Earlier in the review, I said that the opening track AGGRESSIVE wasn’t the most “aggressive” song the album. That’s because Girl In The Mirror aces that song when it comes to overall spunk and presence. Constant beats, synth, and brazen vocals are commonplace in this track, creating a very dynamic and incredibly mature sound. BoA’s vocals sound rougher than usual in the chorus, but that’s actually GOOD since it shows a different side of her.

Here’s another high quality track. Happy Birthday sounds very poppish and cute, but once again the music masks the somewhat bittersweet lyrics. The song is about an ex-boyfriend who she wished she could spend her birthday with. I especially liked the piano the closes the song because it sounded rather sad.

This is one of those instances where a B-side is better left off an album and in exchange for a much better one that was left out. This is how I feel about Diamond Heart, one of the B-sides from the LOVE LETTER single. I still think the song has a messy melody that has no direction to it, despite how cool the verses sounded. Give me Bad Drive, the B-side on the Sweet Impact single, over this any day!

My absolute favorite of the album’s singles was definitely LOVE LETTER. It’s such a bright and positive song, with matching vocals too. The chorus is beautifully done because of BoA’s brilliant emphasis on her vocals. The music is also quite nice too, mixing flowing strings and gentle beats.

The next track, BRAVE, features a darker sound with its synth and slower paced beats. There is also some electric guitar during the bridge, which I thought was a nice addition. BoA’s vocals are vibrant despite the laid back nature of the music.

Following BRAVE, the fresh sounding Gap ni Yarereta! comes in. This song is quite quirky from beginning to end, but still showcases a very poppish sound. I liked the chorus mostly because of the catchy melody and high notes BoA executes.

The quirkiness continues with Style, a hot mess of a song. It’s all over the place with its various synthed up instruments and background vocals. Everything just seems so random and there was really no organization in the overall presentation of this song at all. It’s quite forgettable anyway.

No album can be complete without a dramatic ballad, right? Not really but Smile again, the B-side from the LOSE YOUR MIND single, fills in that blank. It’s a standard ballad: powerful vocals, a sweeping arrangement, and touching moments galore. It’s not bad, but BoA has done better.

Well, here’s a B-side that I’m actually glad to see on this album! Beautiful Flowers from the LOVE LETTER single opens with quick drums and instantly becomes an insanely upbeat and cheerful song filled with catchy beats, vibrant strings, and synth. Just like the beginning of the chorus says: Get up, stand up!.

Ending the album is the heartwarming and sincere song Best Friend. This song is about a young fan of BoA’s and I could really sense a feeling of honesty and genuine sincerity coming from the lyrics. BoA gives an emotional vocal performance, especially during the incredibly down to earth chorus.

The limited CD+2DVD edition of the album features the R&B pop song Hey Boy, Hey Girl feat. BoA, a track performed by the rapper SEAMO. She does have a big role in the song, singing the catchy chorus plus some additional minor parts while SEAMO raps the verses. His voice is a little annoying though. You can find this song on his latest album Round About if you are interested.

I was impressed with THE FACE after the letdown of BoA’s previous album MADE IN TWENTY (20). This album actually has more mature material than MADE  IN TWENTY (20) since she had some personal input into its creation and production. I loved the theme of the album as well since it shows “the many faces of BoA” (it’s the inspiration for the title too). A lot of different musical styles are featured on the album and I enjoyed the amount of variety that was shown. I’m glad that she’s finally beginning to show her true self and this album was the perfect way to present that by proving her versatility as a singer.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. AGGRESSIVE
2. Sweet Impact
3. My Way, Your Way feat. WISE
4. be with you.
5. LOSE YOUR MIND feat. Yutaka Furukawa from DOPING PANDA
6. Girl In The Mirror
7. Happy Birthday
8. Diamond Heart
9. LOVE LETTER
10. BRAVE
11. Gap ni Yarareta! (ギャップにやられた!)
12. Style
13. Smile again
14. Beautiful Flowers
15. Best Friend
16. Hey Girl, Hey Boy feat. BoA / SEAMO [CD+2DVD bonus track]

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

BoA – be with you.

February 27, 2008 at 2:42 PM | Posted in BoA | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. be with you.
2. precious
3. be with you. (spring acoustic mix)
    [First pressing bonus track]
4. be with you. (instrumental)
5. precious (instrumental)

This is BoA’s 26th single and it was released on February 20, 2008. The single reached #13 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 18,587 copies. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie Inu to Watashi no 10 no Yakusoku.

To put it rather bluntly, be with you. is a ballad. It’s an incredibly sweet song filled with “feel good” vibes and cute lyrics. I didn’t find it as good as say…LOVE LETTER, but there are still some pretty moments here and there. The verses are a little uninteresting but they lead into a great and vibrant chorus, the best part of the song in my opinion.

The B-side is also a ballad, but the music and overall melody is a little bit simpler. precious is average, but at least BoA’s vocals are very nice and just like be with you., it’s a really sweet song.

spring acoustic mix of be with you. appears on the single as a first pressing bonus track. I actually liked this version more than the original because it felt more natural and beautiful. The additional beats and percussion of the original version felt kind of unnecessary so it was good to not hear them get in the way this time around. The song itself sounds a lot better with just strings and piano.

Overall Rating

3½ stars

BoA – LOSE YOUR MIND feat. Yutaka Furukawa from DOPING PANDA

December 20, 2007 at 2:47 PM | Posted in BoA | 2 Comments
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Tracklisting 
1. LOSE YOUR MIND feat.
    Yutaka Furukawa from DOPING PANDA
2. Smile again
3. LOSE YOUR MIND feat.
    Yutaka Furukawa from DOPING PANDA
    (instrumental)
4. Smile again (instrumental)

This is BoA’s 25th single and it was released on December 12, 2007. The single reached #6 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 28,128 copies. The B-side was used as the theme song for the drama Doyo Wide Gekijo.

LOSE YOUR MIND is a unique offering from BoA because it features a different sound from what we normally would hear from her. The song is rampant with stylish electric guitar chords, blaring brass, and dance beats. The guitar is provided by Yutaka Furukawa of the rock band DOPING PANDA and he’s the one that really makes the track stand out, especially during the bridge when he performs his solo. When I first heard the song, I didn’t really find it all that remarkable, but it has slowly grown on me because of the spunky verses and catchy chorus. I recommend muliple listens to really get a feel of the almost “mindless” quality of the music and lyrics (Shoo doo bee Do you wanna shoes, bag, and cosmetic? XD).

The B-side is your typical love ballad, but Smile again is executed extremely well and sung with a lot of emotion. Complete with sweeping strings and wonderful vocals from BoA, this is a nice song even though it’s quite ordinary compared to the previous track. As a ballad, it’s very pretty and heartfelt.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

BoA – LOVE LETTER

October 5, 2007 at 2:55 PM | Posted in BoA | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. LOVE LETTER
2. Diamond Heart
3. Beautiful Flowers
4. LOVE LETTER (Winter Acoustic Mix)
    [First pressing bonus track]
5. LOVE LETTER (instrumental)
6. Diamond Heart (instrumental)
7. Beautiful Flowers (instrumental)

This is BoA’s 24th single and it was released on September 26, 2007. The single reached #3 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 45,524 copies.

When it comes to BoA’s slower paced songs, LOVE LETTER isn’t bad. The song is a little on the average side in terms of composition but I really enjoyed BoA’s radiant vocals. She puts more emphasis in the high notes and that is really evident during the vibrant chorus.

The first B-side is the not-so-good Diamond Heart. The song is upbeat with a good rhythm, but the melody is scattered and doesn’t flow well. I really disliked how the song opened as well because of the cheesy English recited by some random guy who’s trying too hard to sound cool.

The next track is MUCH better. Beautiful Flowers is a gorgeous mix of pop synth and strings with excellent vocals. This is a very cheerful song and my favorite off this single.

Included as a first pressing bonus track on the single is a Winter Acoustic Mix of LOVE LETTER. This version is pretty much a simplified mix of the original that removes the light beats and features only the lovely strings. The end result is a beautiful rendition of the song that is even better than before.

Overall Rating

4 stars

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