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Hai Fidelity
BoA - The Face

by Rachael Carothers,

When talking to anime fans, it can be pretty easy to confuse BoA, the Korean pop sensation, with bôa, the British alternative rock band. After all, BoA sang the fourth ending theme to Inu-Yasha, “Every Heart – Minna no Kimochi,” and bôa's “Duvet” was the theme song for Serial Experiments Lain. The difference ends there though. While bôa has been releasing their music rather quietly, BoA has been busily releasing new albums every year since her debut in 2000. On February 28, 2008, she released The Face, her sixth full-length Japanese album.

“AGGRESSIVE” is the first song on the fifteen-track album. With a steady pounding beat, this catchy pop tune could easily find a home on the dance floor in most clubs. Yet those pounding beats aren't harsh enough to annoy someone who isn't into the club scene. However, it is rather difficult to not dance to it.

The promotional video (PV) for “Sweet Impact,” the first single that was released almost a full year before the album itself was on store shelves, was inspired by the “Smooth Criminal” portion of the Michael Jackson: Moonwalker film. BoA, clad in a white suit, dances around a 1930's style gangster bar from the United States, which she unlocked with a floppy disc-type card.

On the album, “Sweet Impact” keeps the energy level up, leaving us generally feeling good before “My Way, Your Way” drops us back a notch. Featuring a hip-hop duet with WISE, “My Way” is a sad song about breaking up with a significant other. While the lyrics aren't happy-go-lucky, both vocalists sound like there is still hope for the ‘relationship’ they are singing about.

This brings us into “be with you,” the theme song to the Japanese movie Inu to Watashi no 10 no Yakusoku (roughly translated to 10 Promises To My Dog). BoA, a known dog lover, was very moved by the movie's story about a girl and her golden retriever. Yes, the ballad's message can be applied to human relationships but it was written specifically for this movie. It is a very pretty song and I can understand why BoA agreed to sing it.

LOSE YOUR MIND,” featuring Yutaka Furukawa from DOPING PANDA on the guitar, picks up the pace again. The track isn't nearly as high energy as “AGGRESSIVE” or “Sweet Impact,” but it is a nice change from the slower songs we just left. Also, the song is very danceable, which is probably why it reached number 6 on the Oricon weekly singles chart in December, 2007.

As I listened to “Girl In The Mirror,” I couldn't help feeling a sort of déjà vu. I finally realized that this song sounds an awful lot like BoA's “Rock With You” from her 2004 Love and Honesty album. If you've never heard “Rock With You,” you might enjoy the song since none of the other songs on this album sound anything like it. However, if you are familiar with BoA's discography, “Girl” might not seem quite as shiny and new.

BoA once again slows down a bit with the pop love song “Happy Birthday.” Unfortunately, this song comes off as the boring vanilla cream in the middle of a delicious rock sandwich cookie. Thankfully, “Diamond Heart,” a song featured in the 2007 commercials for the Toshiba W53T cell phones, brings us back into a dancing mood with a great beat and an introductory speech by DJ marky star from OMNI A.M. Sadly, this is followed by another ballad, ”LOVE LETTER.” While BoA's ballads are rather pretty, there isn't anything particularly interesting about them. Perhaps this makes “Diamond” the awesome gooey center instead of being just a simple cookie.

Finally we are thrown back into a series of harder songs. First there is the soft hip-hop song “BRAVE.” Yes, it sounds a little weird to have a ‘soft hip-hop song’ but the verses are definitely hip-hop while the chorus is more on the pop ballad side. This definitely makes the song an interesting sort of mash-up.

Next up is “Gyappu ni Yarareta!” (roughly – “Hit By The Gap!”) . At this point, the album is almost finished and this is likely to be the best song on it. The changes within the song give it a refreshing change from the typical BoA-sounding songs. Just before you write off the rest of the album, “Style” jumps in with a heavy hip-hop heartbeat to challenge “Gyappu” for the best song award. However, while “Style” is a great dance song, it still brings back memories of other BoA songs like “Girl In The Mirror” from this album or “Kiseki” from Valenti.

The uplifting ballad “Smile Again” is a beautiful showcase of BoA's vocal range. It may seem like I find all ballads mind-numbingly boring, which isn't completely true. This song is more of a traditional pop ballad with a touching and supportive theme. Even though I'd rather hear more of BoA's hip-hop songs instead of another similar-sounding ballad, “Smile” is the type of ballad I could listen to more than once.

It's a little strange to think that a song titled “Beautiful Flowers” would be the theme song for a professional baseball team. Yet it was chosen as the official song of the Yokohama BayStars. Once you listen to the song, it's not quite as surprising. Besides the lyrics about flowers, the song does inspire one to move around a bit, especially during the “Get up Stand up” parts.

“Best Friend” finishes off the album with a wonderful song about friendship. It's difficult to decide which song should have ended this album – “Beautiful Flowers” or “Best Friend.” On one hand, “Flowers” would have given the album an upbeat ending. On the other hand, “Friend” is a really sweet song. “Friend” probably was the best choice. It leaves the album feeling like there isn't anything more for it to say.

As a whole, The Face is a decent album. Just don't go into it expecting anything extremely different from BoA. A majority of these songs sound just like her other songs. That's not to say that her songs are bad. They are actually quite enjoyable. It would be nice to see a little more musical experimentation from BoA. We know that she has a nice voice and she can sing some good hip-hop songs. Why not give some R&B or some jazz sounds a try? Different can be a good thing! Honest!

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