Tuesday Reviews: BoA Kiss My Lips, the 8th Album

BoA makes her long-awaited return to the Korean music scene with her 8th album, Kiss My Lips. The album presents listeners with classic BoA as she seems to have returned to her roots. The majority of the album is good, easy, enjoyable listening sure to delight any BoA fan. For anyone nostalgic for her early 2000s’ material, this is the album for you.

“Kiss My Lips” opens the album. The song perfectly shows BoA’s growth as an artist while successfully reaching a hand to her beginnings. The song itself is flirty and sensual with a “let’s play hard to get vibe” that matches well with the accompanying track. The music’s beat feels like it belongs on her No. 1 album from years ago. BoA’s echoing, deeper vocals on the chorus showcase her more mature vocals indicating that she’s only gotten better with age.

The second track, “Who Are You,” features Gaeko. The song feels like a first love song , adding to the adorable vibe. “Who Are You” is upbeat, a perfect song for warm weather and summer romance. Like “Kiss My Lips,” it recalls earlier BoA eras where joy can be felt in the lyrics. Gaeko’s rap feels a bit too harsh for the song at times, but it fits lyrically. Gaeko’s voice does fit well with BoA’s, but the rap does feel a little off. Toward the end of the song, the rap matches well since it’s softened.

“Smash” picks up the beat more and incorporates more pop-rock elements. The song is overall cheerful and one that could have a fun dance-break if it was ever turned into an MV. The song feels like it could be part of an off-Broadway musical or an opening theme to a US-TV show on the Family Channel or Disney. While it’s upbeat and fun, the tone feels off for BoA as it really does feel more like a show tune than a standout song on an album. There is a 1980s, early 1990s vibe at some points that help make the song sound better than what it is. Overall, it’s more High School Musical or Make It Pop than a potential BoA hit.

One of the standouts is “Shattered.” “Shattered” is a dance track that has hints of melancholy. What’s nice about the song is how it has hints of late-era Michael Jackson, but the feminine spin adds a nice, new layer to the beats Jackson laid down for musicians. BoA’s vocals match the beat well, especially during the chorus to where the vocals and instrumentals match so well, they almost sound like one. So far, “Shattered” earned the most play-time from me.

“Fox” has an old-school vibe and a good vibe. BoA’s high notes sound oh-so-right for the song. The way the song fades in at the beginning makes it feel peaceful even though it’s a mid-tempo track. The song is cute and enjoyable. When the song ended, however, I forgot I listened to it, so memorability is an issue. It’s still a feel-good song, so it’s sad it doesn’t stand out much.

Eddy Kim lends his vocals on “Double Jack.” Eddy Kim was a great choice for the duet because he has the right amount of softness and power to balance BoA’s voice. BoA sounds stronger than Kim, so he is overpowered at times. However, this doesn’t occur enough to flaw the song. Vocals feel just right.

“Home” reveals BoA’s R&B side. Her softness here stirs emotions that make the listener feel the song. “Home” is simple with a certain elegance to it that makes it feel relatable at times. The chorus truly stands out because of how BoA lowers her tone. There is a lot of heart here.

“Clockwork,” the eighth track, has tango elements that feel straight out of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge. The instrumentals make the song feel off-pace and strange. Some lyrics feel rushed and awkward, especially her pronunciation of “idea.” A song that could have been fast-paced and sensual turned into something that’s more messy than anything. To describe it, it’s like sloppy sex that tried to be steamy and sensual. There was a lot of lost potential here.

Track nine is “Love and Hate.” The song features a sweet and unplugged BoA. The rawness shows her vulnerability and paints a pretty portrait. Part of the song’s charm is its simplicity because BoA just sings. There’s nothing fancy: No dance track, no vocal distortions. It’s just BoA and a guitar. Sometimes simplicity speaks more than anything else, and this is why “Love and Hate” is one of the best songs on the album.

“Green Light” will make fans of her Japanese work happy as it has a J-Pop feel. The instrumentals have an upbeat feel that seem like they belong to an anime OST. BoA’s tone is also higher-pitched which feels more J-Pop than K-Pop, but this is why BoA is who she is since she does promote for both genres. The cheery tune will engage fans who enjoy her J-Pop hits, though it feels a bit generic.

Track eleven is the refreshing “Hello.” BoA allows the lyrics to carry her, making the result soft and dreamlike. The song has the potential to transport listeners to a better place. The piano instrumentals are peaceful and romantic. The overall composition is clear and elegant and shows why BoA is one of the queens of K-Pop still.

Finally, “Blah” recalls the nostalgic feel the beginning of the album introduced. The song is the perfect way to wrap the album as it is light-hearted and positive. She sings about being in a controversy and how words are used as weapons. The lightness sends a message that people shouldn’t care about what’s said. As the saying goes, “haters gonna hate,” but BoA doesn’t care. “Blah” sums up why BoA is a glorious being.

Overall, Kiss My Lips is a nice return to the Korean scene with some great feelings of nostalgia. There are a few songs that aren’t memorable, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good. BoA is still one of the queens, and she continues to cement her place in this position.

Kiss My Lips receives a B+.

—-Joelle Halon

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