BoA #5: Girls on top

BoA #5: Girls on Top(2005)

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BoA’s 5th Korean album is leagues ahead of her 2nd, (No 1). Since then, she’s worked on her voice, and her managers have hired some decent songwriters and pushed the music in a more international direction.

Let’s get the final track, 가을 편지, out of the way first, as it’s atypical. It comes as a bit of a surprise. It’s a very simple unaccompanied number. Just BoA singing what is, if I’ve got hold of the right end of the stick, a setting by Kim Min-ki of a Ko Eun poem. Can anyone confirm this? Anyway, it’s rather nice. Like an old folk song. But also, without wishing to trivialise it, it’s the sort of tune which you might hear on a TV commercial for a mass-market consumer product: the tune starts small and tentative, but progressively more people join in the refrain until it becomes a massed, rousing chorus. I guess given Kim Min-ki’s background in the protest movement this isn’t surprising1. The performance on this CD is just the first, tentative, exposition of the tune. I’d like to hear the original Kim version.

Now the rest. A good mixture of well-composed songs covering a wide variety of styles. There’s a great ballad, Breathe Again, by Ha Cheong-ho, and a couple of lively numbers by Yoo Young-jin, including the title number Girls on top, which is a good one. Apart from these three (and of course the Kim Min-ki), all the other tracks seem to be composed by non-Koreans, including a Swede (Love can make a miracle).

BoA is at her best in the livelier tracks, for example Kenzie’s Moto and Garden in the Air, and my personal favourite, Jamie Jones’s Addiction. When it comes to a ballad, I’m afraid she hasn’t really got the right voice. Too reedy and edgy. This particularly shows through in the 5th track, Love can make a miracle, where her voice is too thin and has a fast, uncontrolled vibrato.

Overall though this album is a lot more consistent than the previous one I reviewed. No track is less than bearable, and many are really rather good.

  1. Boy, was I wrong. After writing the above I asked a friend what the poem was about. It’s a sad Autumnal ode about fallen leaves, loneliness and longing for love. Thanks for correcting me, Soyang []

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