BoA – NO.1

August 22, 2012 at 1:58 PM | Posted in BoA | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
BoA – NO.1

1. NO.1
2. My Sweetie
3. 늘… (Waiting)
4. Tragic
5. Shy Love
6. Day
7. Dear My Love…
8. 난 (Beat It!)
9. P.O.L. (Power Of Love)
10. My Genie
11. Pain-Love
12. Happiness Lies
13. Realize (stay with me)
14. Azalea
15. Listen to My Heart (Korean Version)
16. NO.1 (English Version)

♦ ♦ ♦

NO.1 is the second Korean album by South-Korean singer BoA, released on January 14, 2002. It’s also her highest selling Korean album to date.

And the album starts with her most well known Korean song to date as well: the title track NO.1. I kinda understand why this song turned out to be so popular eventually, it’s extremely catchy, danceable and the melodies are amazing. While BoA’s singing has improved slightly since her debut album, the arrangement is what makes this song especially awesome. It starts off with so much attitude in the verses, but the chorus has a sweeter undertone.

My Sweetie has somewhat of an oldschool vibe and that typical ‘turn of the century’ feel, and I really love the little bounce it has to it. BoA’s vocals are impressive, for a 15-year-old girl she has an amazing range and she shows it with her adlibs throughout the song. Really good track.

I’ve pretty much always liked BoA’s ballads, and 늘… (Waiting) doesn’t disappoint me either. This is such a heartfelt and yet simple ballad, the way the beautiful piano notes and strings work together in this song is amazing while BoA is putting so much effort in her vocals. It really builds up into an ending that gives me goosebumps, amazing.

Tragic is the solid uptempo track that comes after the ballad, and it has so much going on here. A pumping beat, piano notes, strings accents, synths and even a surprising electric guitar solo which you don’t hear in her music all that much. BoA’s English isn’t very good (‘traygeec’…?), but other than that this track is almostliterally a blast, there’s music everywhere!

Shy Love takes it to a little relaxter atmosphere, since it’s a sweet midtempo track with some good beats, high pitched synths and bass lines. I don’t really get the rap verse after the first chorus, but it was kind of a common thing in her music at the time and it didn’t sound that bad so I’m gonna approve it.

BoA knows how to keep things going on an album and Day has one of the most original and mysterious openings yet. It has a lot of percussion and dramatic sounding strings going on, so the song tends to sound a little bombastic at times but I love it. I like how the bridge tones things down a little bit before the last chorus is a lot more dominant afterwards. Very original song.

There’s this short little saxophone part throughout Dear My Love… together with a soft beat, and oviously this is one of BoA’s good ballads again. Her vocals are very loud this time, but she still controls them enough to make them sound very appealing. In the bridge, everything really goes full out: BoA’s amazing belting, the strings and the saxophone accents all take flight.

난 (Beat It!) has as much attitude as the title. The drum machine delivers some great beats, the strings provide some bombastic accents and BoA isn’t holding back her attitude either. Her harmonizations in the chorus sound amazing, a track with this title couldn’t have sounded better.

P.O.L. (Power Of Love) is a midtempo R&B song which is a little more laid back than most of the other non-ballad tracks on this album. It has a rather catchy tempo and the heavier beats work well with the rest of the arrangement, although the thing can get a little generic at some points. Still, I really enjoy this track because it has some great melodies (chorus!) and vocals by BoA.

I experience My Genie as a ballad with some really good contrasts. The percussion has some hiphop elements, while the bells, piano and background chorus add something classical and angelic. The instrumental parts may not be all that real (flute sounds through a keyboard for example), but the way this ballad is arranged is pretty awesome. It’s not the typical ballad pattern so it really appeals to me.

Pain-Love opens with a male voice throwing in some random rap lines, and he comes back once in a while during the song so I guess this is one of BoA’s songs that features a random rap section by an uncredited vocalist. It’s her typical drum machine/synth riffs/strings uptempo song, but her singing melodies and vocals still tend to make it very interesting at times and definitely not a boring track, I’d say it’s pretty infectuous.

Some elements in Happiness Lies remind me of her song ‘Don’t start now’, but that could just be me ofcourse. It has the same kind of arrangement as that track, as well as Pain-Love, but it sounds a little more R&B than the latter. BoA’s vocals go really well with the extensive background vocals, and although the pattern and arrangement are pretty generic at this point, there are some elements (like the percussion and the bridge) that keeps things worth listening.

Realize (stay with me) opens with this amazingly catchy hiphop inspired beat, although I’m surprised the rest of the song sounds a little more like pop music. There are some mysterious synths and strings parts, BoA raps one of her verses (which she does reaaally good to my surprise) and there’s even an electric guitar part, so there is much to this track that is actually original between all these uptempo tracks I can’t even tell apart sometimes.

Azalea is the last ballad on the album (and the last of the original tracklist as well since the next two tracks are bonus tracks), and it actually bugs me a little bit that they didn’t credit the featured male singer. This song is a little like what ‘Possibility feat. Daichi Miura’ would be on her album ‘IDENTITY’, it has kind of the same feel although this one is a little more laid back and has more acoustic guitar parts instead of synths. That male singer really spiced up this track, it’s beautiful.

Usually when there are two versions of a song, the one that features the singer’s mother tongue has the upperhand, but I can’t even choose between Listen to My Heart (Korean Version) and the Japanese version! The biggest difference between the two is that BoA has a little harder time to not get overpowered by her background singers in this version, but other than that both have a lot of punch to them and I can’t help but loving this one as well.

So they took NO. 1 and made the English dance mix or something? Apparently, NO. 1 (English Version) has an extended arrangement with a lot more synths and with that a little more attitude, and although I can’t understand her for half of the time BoA’s ‘Engrish’ isn’t half as bad as Kuu’s, for example.

I didn’t know I would like this album so much, especially not since I read so many negative comments on some of the songs, especially in the mid-section of the album. Now I’ll have to admit the first part of the album was a little more interesting (just take a look at my favorite tracks and you’ll see almost the entire first half of the album is featured), but the tracks that come in the middle of the album are definitely not all that bad! Okay, a little generic at times, but there was plenty to enjoy about them because they all had a focus point that definitely drew my attention and it made them a little more original than I thought at first. So from now on I’ll definitely listen to an album first before judging it!

Favorite tracks: NO. 1 | My Sweetie | 늘… (Waiting) | Tragic | Shy Love | Day | Dear My Love… | My Genie | Realize (stay with me) | Azalea | Listen to My Heart (Korean Version) | NO. 1 (English Version)

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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