[Album] Angela Chang – Pandora

Pandora is the third album released by Angela Chang.

pandora

Released: January 6, 2006
1. Invisible Wings (隱形的翅膀)
2. Pandora (潘朵拉)
3. Perfume Lily (香水百合)
4. Really (真的)
5. Recently (最近)
6. Shaken World (驚天動地)
7. Camouflage (保護色)
8. Pocket’s Sky (口袋的天空)
9. Love Journey (愛情旅程)
10. Like You Without a Reason (喜歡你沒道理)
11. Forever Daytime (永晝)

The album opens up with a simple Mandopop ballad, Invisible Wings. Its arrangement is a bit more sparse and it has a traditional spin to its sound. This fits perfectly with Angela’s nasally vocals. The chorus is especially pretty when there is a bit more power coming in. The song never really tries to do too much and remains relatively simple throughout except with its inclusion of strings from time to time. It’s a really simple and touching tune and is easily one of her best ballads.

Right after we get zoomed into an upbeat synth pop tune. Pandora is something we haven’t heard from Angela before, but it’s a nice change up. It has some qualities reminiscent of dance/pop songs from Jolin or Elva, but from their early 00’s days and not around the same time (2006) as it lacks the sexier edge in the vocal delivery. The song comes out stomping and the funky arrangement keeps things interesting. It’s pounding chorus is especially fun with the chant-like hooks.

pandora

Perfume Lily goes for something a little lighter with its slithering piano line and cute synths. Up to this point, this is the weakest tune. While the arrangement is quite nice, the melody is lacking in anything really attention grabbing. It’s cute and there are some fun points, but I wish it had a stickier melody.

We finally get delivered another ballad in the form of Really. This is the album’s power ballad. Unlike the first song, this one builds up the intensity as it progresses. Opening with just piano and strings, the song focuses more on Angela’s emotional vocals. The chorus has a really gorgeous melody that lends itself well to the emotionally charged arrangement. Everything really ramps up at the end when the percussion and guitar come blasting in.

Recently is another slower tune, but this time goes the acoustic route. I like its more relaxed vibe and its nice to get a tune that brings a softer side. Unfortunately, this tune gets a bit boring at times as well. The melody is pretty, but just sort of floats along. It does work nicely with Angela’s voice though.

I like the energy of Shaken World. It isn’t quite as intensely uptempo as the title track and reminds me of “Aurora” from her last album. It has a more dramatic quality in its arrangement due to the piano, strings and light percussion. The melody isn’t particularly catchy, but there is definitely a more mystical quality that works well with the music. I wish it pushed a little harder at times, but there are some really beautiful parts.

Camouflage is pretty much a joke. It jumps in with its awkward hip-hop elements and has Angela trying to rap and be all swaggy and cool. The verses aren’t too bad because they are more melodic, but then it goes into the rapping pre-chorus and it’s really cringey. It’s a bit unfortunate this part is so horrible and actually hilarious to listen to considering the chorus is actually pretty catchy. It’s not a bad song, but just features that terrible rap section.

pandora1

Thankfully, we turn to Pocket’s Sky. This would have been a nice continuation of “Shaken World” as it continues that more mystical and dramatic quality that was heard from “Aurora”. The song reminds me of mid-00’s J-Pop music with its intense buildup of strings into an open chorus. I love the melody here as even though it isn’t particularly catchy, it works perfectly with that sweeping arrangement. It’s a stunning tune and one of Angela’s best.

It’s been a while since the last ballad and we get Love Journey next. While it is slower, it does a nice job of continuing the sound of the last song in its arrangement due to the subtle strings. The song also has an interesting guitar solo break that feels more reminiscent of 90’s C-Pop, which is a nice throwback. It’s an overall nice song. It isn’t as strong as the other ballads, but it has its charms.

Like You Without a Reason comes storming in with its funky pop sound. It has some new jack swing elements thrown in for the arrangement as well, which helps it to stand out. My main problem is that the verses come off sounding like a cooler pop tune but the chorus suddenly changes things by transitioning into a brighter pop tune. The melody is still catchy, but I would’ve preferred a harder hitting chorus.

The album ends on a slow note with Forever Daytime, which is a simple pop ballad. It has a dreamier quality to its arrangement, which makes it feel almost like a lullaby. It doesn’t quite hit that point though due to Angela’s piercing vocals. It’s a nice tune to end on, but it is the album’s weakest ballad.


Overall: This is yet another quality album by Angela Chang. I don’t think it is as consistently strong as her last album, but there are some really high points that stand out and all of the songs are pretty listenable. There are a few odd choices here or there and some songs got a bit boring, but the general quality is solid.

A

[Mini-Album] A.C.E – Under Cover

Under Cover is the second mini-album released by A.C.E. The title track was used as the promotional track.

undercover

Released: May 17, 2019
1. Do It Like Me
2. Under Cover
3. Mr. Bass
4. If You Heard

undercover

Having been a year since the group’s last release, we leave behind the heavier tropical house influences and go for something with stronger hip-hop elements. Do It Like Me is toned down and doesn’t quite go full force, but feels more fitting of something from the early 10’s. There are some really interesting melodic pieces in the verses, but the song has a pretty lackluster chorus. It focuses on a weird synth-line that doesn’t quite bring the energy up. I like it tries to experiment a bit with the style, but it feels confusing.

Luckily, the title track, Under Cover, comes rolling in and we hit it off on a big note. We continue the hip-hop influences but we change things up with some rock elements thrown into the arrangement. The pre-chorus brings in the melodic parts that help to build things up and thankfully this time we explode in a powerful way with the chorus. Its heavy rock backing helps to drive the energy of the song and brings an almost chant-like melody that fits its anthem-like delivery. It’s a cool song.

undercover1

Much prefer Mr. Bass than the other B-sides thanks to its funkier delivery. The verses have a great new jack swing backdrop that helps to give it some groove that works nicely with the melody. I love it when songs go full swing into this sound and this one is a great contemporary twist on that fun sound. The chorus wasn’t particularly interesting on first listen, but it has grown on me more and more. It’s an overall solid tune.

Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of If You Heard. It’s the mini’s midtempo tune and while it’s nice, it just feels like the guys’ vocals are itching for something more intense. It’s cute and I do like the lighter delivery of the song because it helps to bring some softer sounds onto the mini. Still, it isn’t a song that I think I would revisit. It’s lacking in something.


Overall: This is a weird mini because there are two great songs and two songs that just aren’t my cup of tea. Luckily, the better tunes help to make up for the weaknesses in the others, but I wish we had something more interesting for the midtempo tune and something not as messy for the hip-hop one.

B+

[Mini-Album] Cosmic Girls – WJ STAY?

WJ STAY? is the sixth mini-album released by Cosmic Girls. “La La Love” was used as the promotional track.

wjstay

Released: January 8, 2019
1. La La Love
2. You Got
3. Star (1억개의 별)
4. Memories (그때 우리)
5. Cantabile (칸타빌레 (노래하듯이))
6. 12 O’clock
7. UJUNG (우주정거장)

Things open with the promoted track, La La Love, which is a perfect continuation of 2018’s “SAVE ME, SAVE YOU”. While that one was harder hitting and this one likes to skirt the lines of lighthearted, there are some really powerful moments as expected from Cosmic Girls. The verses aren’t their strongest, but the pre-chorus helps to set up the break out of the chorus, which is brings a hook heavy melody and a blast of synths. It’s really refreshing to hear something so clean as it’s so easy to get hooked on the songs simple pop delivery.

wjstay

With that said, for me, You Got is the highlight of the mini-album. It forgoes the airy and dreamy pop sound for something more disco-esque and is it ever great. The verses are softer, but are short enough that they don’t carry too much weight and take away from that catchy post-disco funk sound. This is one of my favourite sounds and it fits perfectly with that early 80’s vibe. I feels contemporary with its fleshed out instrumental. Perfect.

Star slows things down for us by bringing a touching ballad. I’m usually partial to most K-Pop group ballads because they generally feel like fillers on an album. This one is on the better side of things with its lighter sound and soft melody. I really like the music as well. However, I’m not a fan of the vocal editing and the girls sound particularly airy here, which doesn’t quite fit with the song’s powerful moments. Still a decent album track.

I like that Memories brings us back to the upbeat sound. We don’t quite get into an intense pop song, but instead we get something light hearted and bright. It actually comes off as an older “GFriend” song with its focus on a fast-paced beat and intense strings as well as explosive vocals. It’s a solid tune and recalls a more nostalgic side with its late 00’s K-Pop vibe.

The next highlight to come up is Cantabile, which feels like a mix of “Memories” and “La La Love”. It brings something brighter but also includes some dreamier elements in its synths and vocal stylings. If anything, it reminds me more of something that is J-Pop than K-Pop. The melody is quite stunning and I love how it plays with being both playful and intense at the same time. It’s a great tune and easily one of the group’s best B-sides. It could have worked as a title track.

wjstay2

12 O’clock is weird…It’s a change up with its swing elements in the verses, but once the song hits the chorus, things return to a classic pop sound that we usually hear from the group. I really like this play up with sounds because it keeps things on its feet, especially with the rap for the second verse. The great thing is that the chorus doesn’t particularly suffer and while it takes some time to really dig its feet, it has a pretty fun melody. Another good tune.

I’ve never been a big fan of most “fan” songs because they tend to be sweet tunes that aren’t particularly interesting. UJUNG is a cute song and it does have its moments. The chorus is quite sweet and I really like the play off of rap and vocal pieces, but I’ve never been a huge fan of coffeehouse R&B and this one is a bit too forgettable for my tastes.


Overall: This is easily the group’s strongest mini-album to date. While I enjoy some of their other title tracks a bit more, “La La Love” is no slouch and there are two B-sides that could easily compete with it. The rest of the tracks help to bring variety to their sound, while still keeping some of stylings present from their more notable tunes. It’s a really a good mini and is only dragged down by that last coffeehouse tune.

A

[Album] Amuro Namie – break the rules

break the rules is the fourth studio album released by Amuro Namie. This was her last album working with Komuro Tetsuya and Dallas Austin who participated on her last album. While the album was successful, peaking at #2 on the charts, it was her first to not reach the top spot and also sold significantly less than her previous releases with only 334,000 copies sold. The album featured two pre-release singles and re-cut. All proved relatively successful, charting within the top 10.

breaktherules

Released: December 20, 2000
1. RULE 8AM
2. no more tears
3. better days
4. break the rules
5. LOOKING FOR YOU
6. PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (Album Mix)
7. never shoulda
8. CROSS OVER (Album Mix)
9. GIRLFRIEND
10. NEVER END (Album Mix)
11. think of me
12. RULE 8PM
13. HimAWAri
14. no more tears (REMIX)

breaktherulesnomoretears

The album opens with the intro, which is RULE 8AM. It’s like a 30 second clip of Amuro in a grocery store….Luckily it finishes quickly and swings right into the first song, no more tears (#7 / 112,000). This was released as one half of the album’s re-cut single. The song has a more toned down pop/R&B vibe to it, but still retains that classic Komuro Tetsuya style with its synth backdrop and strange structure. While I don’t think the song is bad by any means, it just doesn’t scream single to me. The chorus is nice, but has very little impact and just flies along with its fast-paced and airy delivery. I like that it does bring some gospel elements in its final moments, but it just doesn’t fit here.

I would say better days is a bit better. It has a strong hip-hop vibe to its music, but feels a bit more contemporary than the music featured on GENIUS 2000. It’s nice because there are some light-hearted neo-soul elements thrown in as well to really fit this time. The verses are a bit off rhythm due to the beat, but the choruses are definitely a nice listen. The melody isn’t particularly strong, but it’s happy and carefree vibe is a bit contagious.

After two laidback tunes, we finally get to something a bit more aggressive. The title track, break the rules is pretty classic sounding Komuro and feels more fitting of something from Amuro’s second album, Concentration 20. It doesn’t quite have the same contemporary vibes of the last song and feels more experimental in its delivery. It’s a really cool sounding track, but just doesn’t have anything that really makes me want to revisit it. It doesn’t have the strongest melody.

Luckily, LOOKING FOR YOU is a bit better. It’s fully in English though, which isn’t bad, but just feels like Amuro is out of her element because she can’t quite execute the lyrics with much sincerity. The song would have been better if it was done in Japanese. The song itself brings in a more generic uptempo pop/R&B sound, but sounds like it is stunted by its odd production choices. It’s almost island-vibe elements are a fun choice to bring in, but are stuffed by boring synthesizers. Amuro’s delivery is also a bit boring and doesn’t quite live up to the energy of the song until the final chorus.

breaktherulesplease

PLEASE SMILE AGAIN (Album Mix) (#2 / 216,000) was released as the album’s second single and its a saving grace at this point. We get a cool rock-inspired pop tune that has Komuro bringing a different edge to Amuro’s sound. It’s one of her most aggressive songs and while it harkens back to tunes like “a walk in the park”, it really amps up the guitar. I do believe the album mix goes even harder with this sound, which is a nice change-up. The melody is hard-hitting, but is still able to bring a memorable hook that drives the power of the music.

I really like how intense of a start never shoulda has. The synths and commanding beat are a nice change and we get another harder hitting pop tune. Here, we bring the R&B elements back and lose the rock influence of the last track. Unfortunately, the song just doesn’t have a strong melody. There are a few nice hooks, but it just doesn’t hit hard enough to really bring my attention back. It’s not a bad song though and one of the better fillers.

CROSSOVER (Album Mix) was released as the B-side to the album’s second single. It has a very strong Komuro sound to it and features an array of synths, some rocking guitars and heavier percussion. The song has a more dramatic style to it that reminds me of “I HAVE NEVER SEEN”, which is a favourite of mine from Amuro. This one brings some lighter sounds to help balance the intensity of the mood. I think this is a pretty cool track and unfolds its charms as it progresses. The different parts help to bring some exciting changes.

I was expecting GIRLFRIEND to return us to the R&B sound and I was right. I’m a bit on the fence with this one. While it has a more digestable melody, it just isn’t particularly exciting. It has potential to be better, but the production is a bit lacking and I feel like there could have been more points of excitement throughout the song. It has a cool beat though.

breaktherulesneverend

NEVER END (Album Mix) (#2 / 640,000) was the album’s first single and the most light-hearted tune on the album. It has the classic Komuro flair, but brings out one of Amuro’s most sincere tunes. It’s synthed-up pop stylings help to keep it afloat, especially with the calmer verses. We only get a rush of energy for the pre-chorus, but it’s the odd transition into the bright chorus that really pushes the songs hooks. It’s a really beautiful tune and brings a more restrained side to Amuro’s discography.

I mean it is pretty lucky we had the last song because the second half of Amuro’s re-cut single, think of me, is one of my least favourite songs from her. Here we get a piano ballad that slowly builds as it progresses. Generally, I like this kind of style, but the music is a snooze fest and just lulls along while focusing on the melody, which is ruined by Amuro’s vocal performance. I love Amuro’s voice, but her runs and riffs are all over the place and sloppy so the song feels very amateur.

Then we slip into the next interlude with RULE 8PM. Not much different from the first, but it brings us into HimAWAri. Here we get another Komuro track, which helps to balance out the struggle of the last song. It’s not a great tune, but there are some great ideas here. I really love the airier sound it brings and it feels like a callback to her music from the late 90’s. I do wish the chorus was a little more interesting because it just bumps along.

I’m glad we end things with a remix of no more tears and not “think of me”. I’m not a fan of remixes usually, but this is a fun update to the more relaxed original. I like the disco vibe of this one and it helps to really energize that chorus. It really helps to end things on a positive note.


Overall: This is my least favourite Amuro Namie album up to this point. It isn’t particularly terrible, but just completely underwhelming. The album feels like a continuation from her last one, but lacks the higher points. The melodies were significantly weaker and many of the choruses felt lacklustre. Many of the songs just felt boring or uninteresting. Still, there were some highlights on here, in particular the songs written by Komuro stood out.

C+

[Digital Single] PRODUCE 48 – Nekkoya (PICK ME) (Piano ver.)

“Nekkoya (PICK ME) (Piano ver.)” is the second digital single released for the third season of the PRODUCE series.

nekkoya

Released: July 14, 2018
1. Nekkoya (PICK ME) (Piano ver.)

I was half expecting there to be some more dramatic vocal sessions in this version, but the Piano version of Nekkoya (PICK ME) is literally just the piano. It’s really heartfelt and does its job to create the more emotional delivery it’s set out to do. It’s a bit weird to think that the explosive energy of the original could be changed into such a striking instrumental piece, but it works.


Overall: This is pretty much only the instrumental piece. Not sure why I covered it to be honest, but it’s nice.

A

[Special] BoA Singles Review Part. 2

11. DOUBLE
double
Released: October 22, 2003
Charts: #2 / 82,000 copies sold
c/w: Midnight Parade / Milky Way ~Kimi no Uta~ (君の歌)
Album: LOVE & HONESTY
DOUBLE goes full force with the dance/pop sound and it’s a great follow-up to her other aggressive songs like “VALENTI” and “LISTEN TO MY HEART”. I would say that it really follows the structure of the former, but replaces its Latin influences for something more robotic and electronic. It’s a catchy tune, but unlike those two, it feels a bit dead. It has a great arrangement that blasts with power and the melody is memorable, but it just feels like something is missing to really make it stand out. It’s a solid tune, but has slowly dipped down my list of favourites. The first B-side (Midnight Parade) is a funky dance/pop tune. It’s definitely not as forceful as the A-side, but there is a nice groove in its arrangement that makes it sounds more modern. The song isn’t a slouch with the hooks. I do wish it pushed harder for the chorus though. The second B-side (Milky Way ~Kimi no Uta~) is the Japanese version of a promoted track from her third Korean album. I really love this song because it has a great bright energy to it. It isn’t as overtly bubblegum and instead focuses on a more inspirational quality. The Korean version is superior, but this is a solid one as well.
Rating: 7/10

12. Rock With You
rockwithyou
Released: December 3, 2003
Charts: #5 / 58,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: LOVE & HONESTY
Unlike “DOUBLE”, which slowly went down my favourites list, Rock With You has slowly gone up. Like the title says, it brings in some rock qualities into BoA’s usual dance/pop sound. I really like how it was executed here and it’s a powerful and fun song to get into. The chorus is especially strong with its mix of guitar and percussion. The song also has some great hooks that make it easy to return to, while BoA delivers on her front. I just wish the arrangement was a little fuller to really catapult it to the top.
Rating: 8/10

13. Be the one
betheone
Released: February 11, 2004
Charts: #15 / 25,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: LOVE & HONESTY
I find Be the one to be like a mix between the cooler dance/pop sound of “DOUBLE” and the more bombastic arrangement of “Rock With You”. It’s a pretty sweet song, but feels a bit more generic in its delivery, so I can see why it was released as a re-cut single after its parent album. The song’s verses are my favourite parts because BoA really owns the attitude here. The choruses are more explosive and exciting and has some pretty solid hooks. It actually reminds me a little of “LISTEN TO MY HEART”.
Rating: 7/10

14. QUINCY / Kono Yo no Shirushi (コノヨノシルシ)
quincy
Released: September 1, 2004
Charts: #4 / 82,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST OF SOUL
QUINCY is BoA’s first single since her switch to a more mature image in Korea and it shows in the cover. With that said, the song itself is a funky disco tune that is a stand out in BoA’s discography. I love its light funk beat, which helps to drive the arrangement, while the added synths in the chorus really give it a lot of energy and brightness. The verses aren’t as fulfilling, but they are short and lead well into that stellar chorus. While the melody isn’t as strong in hooks as some of her other songs, the arrangement really helps to support its punches. The second A-side, Kono Yo no Shirushi, is pretty much the exact opposite. It’s a sweet midtempo pop song that feels more fitting on her LOVE & HONESTY album. This is actually my favourite BoA song though. There is something so charming about its gentle and cute chorus that is driven by some great hooks. It just helps to bring this positive energy, while not being overwhelmingly cute or bright and is such a relaxed song that takes its time to shine.
Rating: 9/10 (QUINCY), 10/10 (Kono Yo no Shirushi)

15. Meri Kuri (メリクリ)
merikuri
Released: December 1, 2004
Charts: #5 / 136,000 copies sold
c/w: MEGA STEP / The Christmas Song
Album: BEST OF SOUL
It’s been a while since BoA’s last ballad single and Meri Kuri came right in time for the winter season. Easily one of BoA’s most well-known songs, Meri Kuri is a dramatic pop ballad with a more orchestral backing, which is a change from the more programmed arrangements of “JEWEL SONG” or “Every Heart”. While I enjoyed the song in the past, it’s only been recently where I’ve really heard its charms. It has a wonderful arrangement that powers its sweeter melody that is driven mostly by BoA’s head voice. It’s easily one of her most beautiful songs. The first B-side (MEGA STEP) is great. I love that she tries to offset the more dramatic sound of the A-side with something a little softer and laid back. Here we get a sparkling pop tune, but with some R&B influences in the melody. It’s one of her best B-sides. The second B-side (The Christmas Song) is a cover of the classic Christmas tune by Nat King Cole. It’s fully in English. BoA does pull it off well, but it does feel like it’s lacking in the emotion as she focuses more on the pronounciation.
Rating: 10/10

16. DO THE MOTION
dothemotion
Released: March 30, 2005
Charts: #1 / 169,000 copies sold
c/w: With U / Kimi no Tonari de (キミのとなりで)
Album: OUTGROW
As BoA’s first and only #1, DO THE MOTION is a bomb of a song. Instead of her usual dance/pop flair, we get something with a bit of a jazzy samba number. It isn’t as hardhitting or fast paced as BoA’s other upbeat tunes, but instead we get something a bit more slinky and sensual. Even despite the slower pace, the song still has a lot of punch in its arrangement and the hooks hit at the right points. BoA’s also sounds especially confident and we get to here a larger range of vocal styles from her. The first B-side (With U) is a cute pop number. It’s a bit generic in sound, but still fits nicely with the feeling of the A-side. I like that is has a fluffier melody, but it’s still quite a catchy number. The second B-side (Kimi no Tonari de) is the better of the two with its gentle delivery. It still retains a more generic sound, but it really lets BoA’s voice shine with its simpler arrangement. The sweeping strings and subtle background vocals help to fill up the music.
Rating: 10/10

17. make a secret
makeasecret
Released: August 31, 2005
Charts: #5 / 54,000 copies sold
c/w: LONG TIME NO SEE
Album: OUTGROW
It’s a bit disheartening knowing that all the momentum that BoA got from her last few singles and BEST OF SOUL were squandered when avex decided to release this as her next single. make a secret isn’t a bad song. In fact, I actually enjoy it. But it just isn’t that strong of a single. It feels more like a B-side and reminds me of “Midnight Parade”. The arrangement has spunk to it and there is definitely some power, but the overall delivery is just a bit faulty and lackluster at times. I feel like if the arrnagement was a little more fleshed out it might have been better. The B-side (LONG TIME NO SEE) isn’t much better. I’m usually a bit fan of BoA’s B-sides, but this is one of her most boring. It has a slower and more generic pop sound much like those on the last single, but it lacks a strong melody and the pace is just a tad too slow.
Rating: 5/10

18. Dakishimeru (抱きしめる)
dakishimeru
Released: November 23, 2005
Charts: #9 / 58,000 copies sold
c/w: Before you said goodbye to me
Album: OUTGROW
Dakishimeru tries to remedy the last single by going in on full blast. It’s been a while since BoA’s last heavy hitting single and this one is easily one of her best. The song is dance/pop, but features a bit of a funky beat. The verses are attitude filled, but still filled with some more exciting moments so as to not let that momentum falter. The chorus is where things go crazy though as the synths start to fly in and the beat gets heavier. The song seems to zoom by, but it still leaves an impact. The B-side (Before you said goodbye to me) is a sweet pop tune with a bit of funk and brass to it as well. It’s not one of my favourites from her, but it is infinitely better than the last single’s B-side. The chorus has a cuter vibe going for it as the brass instruments help to give it some punch.
Rating: 10/10

19. Everlasting
everlasting
Released: January 18, 2006
Charts: #4 / 74,000 copies sold
c/w: soundscape
Album: OUTGROW
A month before her fourth Japanese studio album, BoA released Everlasting. Easily the second biggest hit from this era, this is a return of the ballads and it is a stellar and gorgeous piece. It takes some notes from “Meri Kuri” with its stronger orchestral backing, which is only heightened in this song. The arrangement is absolutely stunning and main focus of the song for me because it really drives the emotion. The melody is a bit more dragged out and while it isn’t as catchy, it still works wonderfully with the music. It has a bit more of a K-Pop feel for me though. The B-side (soundscape) is a great midtempo pop/R&B tune that is reminiscent of “MEGA STEP”. I would say they are both pretty similar in vibes and sound, but this one does go a bit harder in certain spots. It’s one of my favourite B-sides from BoA because she plays with her voice a little more.
Rating: 9/10

10. Nanairo no Ashita ~Brand New Beat~ (七色の明日) / Your Color
nanaironoashita
Released: May 14, 2003
Charts: #3 / 90,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: MADE IN TWENTY (20)
Some fans felt that Nanairo no Ashita ~Brand New Beat~ was a bit of a step backwards for BoA because we see a return of a cute, bright pop tune. It’s not BoA’s most forward thinking song, but it definitely has its charms and it feels like a more upbeat version of some of BoA’s B-sides. The verses are nice, but not particularly interesting. It’s the chorus where things start to pick up and the song’s focus is more towards the simple hooks than anything else. It’s a cute song and it does have a nice bridge, which is easily the best part. The second A-side matures things with a stunning pop ballad. Your Color is a pretty tune and has a more melancholic and dramatic style to it. It feels like “Everlasting”, but not quite as grand. The arrangement is the main focus, but it still has a solid melody. It isn’t as memorable though and I do feel like BoA’s voice sounds a bit dry in the higher belts. A pretty song, but does get a bit tiring after a while.
Rating: 7/10 (Nanairo no Ashita ~Brand New Beat~), 6/10 (Your Color)

[Special] BoA Singles Review Part. 1

01. ID; Peace B
idpeaceb
Released: May 30, 2001
Charts: #20 / 40,000 copies sold
c/w: Dreams come true
Album: LISTEN TO MY HEART
BoA debuted in Japan with her debut single from Korea. Despite being in Japanese, ID; Peace B till flows relatively well. This is jumping, darker dance/pop song, while was released in Korea first feels tailored made for the Japanese market with its heavy synth-work and powerful melodic chorus. Despite being only 14 years old, BoA still boasts a strong vocal performance and despite her more mature tone, she still retains a youthful energy. The B-side (Dreams come true) is the Japanese version of a song released from her special Korean album, Jumping into the World. I used to love this song a lot, but as the years passed it has lost a bit of stream. It continues the high energy delivery of the A-side, but goes even more aggressive with its melody. It’s not a bad song though and has some really great vocal points.
Rating: 7/10

02. Amazing Kiss
amazingkiss
Released: July 25, 2001
Charts: #23 / 59,000 copies sold
c/w: Someday, Somewhere
Album: LISTEN TO MY HEART
I believe that Amazing Kiss is BoA’s first original Japanese single and it’s a contrast from her first single with its brighter sound. While much of the arrangement is similar in synths and beats, how they are utilized to give a breezier and cuter style really makes a different. The melody is definitely much catchier than her debut single and I feel like the hooks are more impactful and hypnotic. BoA also does a great job of bringing her powerful vocals into the song. The B-side (Someday, Somewhere) was originally released from debut Korean album. It’s a bouncy pop tune with some R&B elements that feels like the perfect complement to the A-side. It’s cute, harmless and does a nice job of showing BoA’s vocals. The melody is quite catchy too.
Rating: 9/10

03. Kimochi wa Tsutawaru (気持ちはつたわる)
kimochiwatsutawaru
Released: December 5, 2001
Charts: #15 / 77,000 copies sold
c/w: Next Step
Album: LISTEN TO MY HEART
As BoA’s third single and her second original tune, Kimochi wa Tsutawaru is more tailored for the winter season. While it does have some sparkling synths, it’s still in style with the more aggressive dance/pop sound that BoA had slowly become known for. The powerful beat mix nicely with the odd synths while BoA’s voice floats above it all. The song doesn’t quite have the same infectious energy as “Amazing Kiss”, but there is something really satisfying about its more drawn out melody as it brings an almost ballad-like quality. The B-side (Next Step) is one of BoA’s many strong secondary tracks. It continues the more eerie intensity of the last song, but its light Latin sounds help to create a different feel. I would actually rank this higher than the A-side as it has a more intense and emotional melody that hasn’t been heard yet from BoA. It’s quite beautiful.
Rating: 8/10

04. LISTEN TO MY HEART
listentomyheart
Released: January 17, 2002
Charts: #5 / 179,000 copies sold
c/w: Snow White
Album: LISTEN TO MY HEART
The song that catapulted BoA to superstardom at the young age of 15, LISTEN TO MY HEART pretty much plays on the sounds of her last singles but with a more straightforward delivery. There is so much attitude in the verses that they don’t falter under the high-powered punch of the chorus. The chorus isn’t inherently super catchy, but its sheer energy just heightens the whole level of song. The arrangement also does a great job of bringing the power out and each part is dramatically stomped out. It’s not surprise it was her breakthrough single. And even as great as it is, the B-side (Snow White) is even better. This is easily my second favourite BoA song. We get something that starts out darker and more mysterious than before and while the chorus brings the usual sounds of BoA, there is something absolutely stunning about that emotionally-charged melody tied with the Spanish guitar. This song is gorgeous and still gets regular plays from me even after 15 years.
Rating: 10/10

05. Every Heart -Minna no Kimochi-
everyheart
Released: March 13, 2002
Charts: #10 / 84,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: LISTEN TO MY HEART
Most famous for its use as Inuyasha’s ending theme, Every Heart -Minna no Kimochi- was released the same day as her first Japanese album. Being BoA’s first ballad single, it is still has quite a bit of energy to it with its light R&B elements and soaring strings used into the chorus. It’s a really beautiful song that fits BoA’s raspy vocals quite well. The melody has a lot of power to it and the arrangement makes sure that things don’t get too slow or dull. With that said, my favourite point is actually right at the end where BoA gives a nice falsetto run to finish things off.
Rating: 8/10

06. Don’t start now
dontstartnow
Released: May 29, 2002
Charts: #17 / 20,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: LISTEN TO MY HEART
The success of BoA’s first Japanese album prompted avex trax to release a re-cut single. I’m not really sure why they chose Don’t start now. It’s a translated version of a song from her first special Korean album, but it just doesn’t quite feel fresh at this point with its similarities to her debut song, “ID; Peace B”. The song is catchy and has a cute melody, but it just doesn’t stand out and the arrangement feels somewhat generic at this point. I would’ve much preferred if they had “Sara” on the album and released that instead.
Rating: 5/10

07. VALENTI
valenti
Released: August 28, 2002
Charts: #2 / 201,000 copies sold
c/w: Realize (stay with me)
Album: VALENTI
BoA’s most successful single, VALENTI, comes in the form of this Latin-inspired dance/pop track. While we get some similarities to her first album’s singles, there is a clear change-up in sounds and more experimentation. The added guitar and funk bass help to bring a different edge that wasn’t heard in her previous A-sides. The melody is much like “LISTEN TO MY HEART”, which feels more driven by pure force than on hooks. It’s still seductive and infectious, just more subdued and plays second-fiddle to the sheer power of the overall delivery. The B-side (Realize (stay with me)) is a nice change-up with its mid-tempo pace that brings an almost dramatic take on things. Its sounds feel more in tune with her Korean releases, which is not surprising since it was an album track from her second Korean album. It’s still a solid B-side, but that’s it.
Rating: 9/10

08. Kiseki (奇蹟) / NO.1 
kiseki
Released: September 19, 2002
Charts: #3 / 129,000 copies sold
c/w: flower
Album: VALENTI
Kiseki is an absolutely beautiful tune. It feels more in tune with “Snow White” in that the song creates a specific atmosphere that delivers on a more emotional point. We get BoA’s usual dance/pop flair in the arrangement, but things are changed up a bit more by going softer on the beats and bringing in some lighter synths. Despite this lighter take, the song still brings a sense of drama, which is especially evident in its opening lines. The chorus goes a bit harder on the hooks than “VALENTI”, but I still love its more melodic take on things. The second A-side, NO.1, was released as the promotional track from her second Korean album. It’s a powerful dance/pop tune and feels like a natural progression from the sounds of “ID; Peace B”. We still get this more aggressive arrangement, but the chorus is more pop friendly and its bubbly and bright melody helps to give it a different characteristic that isn’t seen in the verses. It took me a while for this song to really sink in since I’m not a fan of these kinds of transitions, but it is a catchy tune. The B-side (flower) goes for a more midtempo R&B/pop sound. It feels like a predecessor to some of her later midtempo pop songs which creates a more relaxed feel. It’s much like the last tune, a solid B-side with a catchy melody.
Rating: 10/10 (Kiseki), 7/10 (NO.1)

09. JEWEL SONG / BESIDE YOU -Boku wo Yobu Koe- (僕を呼ぶ声)
jewelsong
Released: November 11, 2002
Charts: #3 / 151,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: VALENTI
BoA’s next ballad single comes in the form of JEWEL SONG. This used to be my favourite ballad from her, but it doesn’t quite have the same qualities of some of her other ones that has pulled me back. The opening “woah, woah, woah”‘s are one of the problems since she sings it with a “v” sound. That and the song just feels so slow and dragged out that it can take some time to really get going. With that said, the song does have an absolutely smashing chorus where the melody is elevated by the strings and added percussion. When it hits, it hits hard. BoA also sounds stunning here and it’s one of her best vocal performances. The second A-side, BESIDE YOU -Boku wo Yobu Koe-, feels more fitting of as a B-side than A-side. It feels like “Kiseki”s more aggressive sister with its more dramatic sound, but it doesn’t quite have the same graceful execution. I still feel as though the song would be better with a softer arrangement instead of the heavy synths and beats it does utilize. It has some really cool ideas, but just feels all rushed.
Rating: 7/10 (JEWEL SONG), 6/10 (BESIDE YOU -Boku wo Yobu Koe-)

10. Shine We Are! / Earthsong
shineweare
Released: May 14, 2003
Charts: #2 / 144,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: LOVE & HONESTY
High-octane bubblegum pop songs usually take me a lot longer to get into for some reason. Shine We Are! is one example of that. I used to dislike this song when I first heard back in the day. Nowadays, I appreciate it for its fun and bright energy and it still has a lot of edge to it that keeps it exciting and unexpected. The hooks are heavy in this one, which helps make it so easy to get down with, but it’s helped by its explosive arrangement. My favourite part is the breakdown halfway through the song that gives the song a slightly harder edge. It’s a fun change up. The second A-side, Earthsong, keeps up the bright pop energy, but brings something a bit more inspirational. I’m not sure why it was made an A-side though as it feels more fitting as a B-side. The song has an energized chorus, but it’s not as catchy and the transition into it feels a little jarring considering the calmer take on the verses.
Rating: 9/10