Tuesday, July 24, 2012

First Take: BoA's Only One

Kwon BoA, mononymously known simply as BoA, is back. Oftentimes known as the Queen of K-pop, BoA brings back old school sweetness and back to basics music. After almost a year of absence from the cut-throat world of K-pop, she is back with 'Only One', featuring one of my favorites, Yoo Ah-in.

Honestly, my interest was piqued because Yoo Ah-in's name was attached to this. It probably should've been because of BoA herself. I know BoA is super cool and all. She's perhaps one of the most well-rounded and most talented female solo artist in Korea. But her music isn't really my style. Let's see how she fared in my First Take.

Both videos are directed by BoA's own brother, Kwon Soonwook, under Metaoloz. Unlike what usual artists would do, BoA, or rather SM Entertainment, released the dance version first. The "drama" version, the one featuring Mr Yoo, already came out last night. Just not on YouTube. Which I think is a horrible move from SM's side. They're loosing so many views and whatnot from not releasing it officially on YouTube. They don't have anything to lose, really, but I prefer watching MVs, and any other videos, from an official source if possible. It's for authenticity. Nonetheless I will talk about both in here. I'll feature a fan-uploaded version because that's the only one available on YouTube. When the real pops out, I'll change it. I've updated with the official version from SMTown's YouTube.

The song takes a different route to what K-pop has been experiencing lately. Instead of bass-heavy, autotune-drenched dance track, BoA decided to go back to basics with a sweet, sweet ballad with an R&B twist. I think this is a brilliant choice. The reason why I wasn't blown away with her previous track, 'Hurricane Venus', was because it just wasn't her. It was too mechanized and tweaked. BoA is great when she's showing her raw talent, and I think this song is good for that. One downside though, I felt that the verses are a bit unpleasant for me. She sounded too nasally for my taste. (On a side note, is it just me or are most female SM vocalists sings quite nasally?) She shines better in a higher register, and that's why I'm just loving the chorus. (Edit: BoA composed and wrote the lyrics herself. So awesome.)

One thing that I was blown away though, I mean completely off my chair type, was her dancing. I forgot just how much of an amazing dancer she is. I think the first time I watched the dance version, my mouth just dropped. Literally. This tiny lady surrounded by big men can probably knock them down by her awesome popping. That ending dance sequence still gives me goosebumps every time. And the amazing thing is even though there are 6 buff, moderately handsome men dancing, my eyes are still glued on her. That's star power right there. Also another cool thing about this dance is that it's powerful yet still feminine. The male backup dancers didn't look like a fool doing it and BoA still looked elegant throughout. Thumbs up to you, choreographer. (Edit: so the choreographer turned out to be the amazing choreographer duo NappyTabs. Of course it was cool.)

Now we're getting to the drama version. Oh boy, where should I start. Okay, first of all, such a horrible mistake for SM to release the super awesome dance version before the lackluster drama one. Now, the faults aren't where you think it is. In an idol's drama version video, usually one of the most horrid thing is the acting. Thankfully BoA and Yoo Ah-in did a good job with it. I mean it's Mr Yoo, you can't go wrong. It's just that the whole video is so cheesy. The overall feel of the MV is roughly (emphasize on rough) like Nell's 'The Day Before'. Or actually like a lot of other pastelly, slow ballad drama in the world of K-pop. But, ugh, SM, you should just stay away from artsy fartsy videos, seriously. I know I constantly nag at the idol-in-a-box MV concept that you've managed till now. But I like those better than this.

Where should I begin. First, tight shots of melancholy faces. That's not all too bad, I guess. Numerous ballad MVs are like that too. Doesn't mean I like it. Second, close up of clenching fists and fidgety feet. This is something I don't get about Korean filmmakers and their liking of these type of shots. It bothers me to see a shot suddenly cuts to a clenching fist. I understand you're angry or nervous, you don't have to show me your body language. Actually, this can be solved with, I don't know, good acting. And what's with BoA and the water drop? And the seemingly artsy close-ups of household items? Are you trying to show off your HD, high speed camera? Then towards the end, BoA starts shining like a piece of aluminium foil. Oh SM and your odd fondness of light flares and shimmer will never fail to make me laugh. And the 360 camera. Thankfully it wasn't a midair shot, so improvement? At least her finger flick didn't result in a kungfu swish. But there were clicks of her heels (annoying). And best of all, she exploded into a sea of bubbles. Just thinking about it makes me shiver.

My last complaint: not enough Yoo Ah-in. More of him would be nice, Mr Director. Just kidding. Or am I?

Despite the cheesy coating this MV has, it's not all that bad. I'm not that much of a Grinch. The shot where BoA was back to back with Mr Yoo was done very well. When BoA was walking through the cafe reliving her memories was also a good part of the MV for me. I wish it was more of that and less shimmer and bubbles. Especially the shimmer and bubbles. And no swishes for either videos, thankfully. Glad you've read our ridicule complaints.

Although the drama version is in need of some major tweaks, I thoroughly loved (I mean LOVED. And maybe a bit obsessed with) the dance version. I'll just pretend that only the dance version and the couple scenes exist. Okay, that's better. What do you think? Is the drama version a bit too much? Or is the dance version just too awesome?

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