|K-pop diva BoA during an online press conference held before the release of her 10th full-length album "BETTER" on Dec. 1. Courtesy of SM Entertainment|
By Dong Sun-hwa
When singer BoA first headed for Japan to showcase her music in 2001 ― only a year after debut with the album "ID; Peace B" in Korea ― "K-pop" wasn't a term.
For a 15-year-old girl, trailblazing into the new market ― the second-largest recorded music market in the world ― seemed like an unachievable goal. But BoA made it.
In 2002, she became the first Korean to top Japan's biggest pop chart Oricon with her first studio album in Japan, "Listen to My Heart." Since then, she has dropped a string of hits including "Valenti" (2003), sold a massive number of albums and rewritten history. She is believed to have paved the way for other K-pop acts to enter the Japanese market and expand their careers and fan bases.
Now, BoA, whose smash hits include "No. 1" (2002), "Atlantis Princess" (2003), "My Name" (2004) and "Only One" (2012), is set to take the K-pop music scene by storm again with her 10th full-length album "BETTER."
Marking the 20th anniversary of her debut, she has come up with an album that shows her diverse musical taste. It was released on South Korean music streaming sites at 6 p.m. Dec. 1.
"I still can't believe that 20 years have passed since my debut," BoA said in an online press conference, Tuesday. "It feels like people around me are giving more meaning to this than I am. Gearing up for BETTER, I tried to keep myself more lighthearted because I was afraid I might not be able to drop it now if I also put a lot of meaning into it and made it too weighty."
"BETTER," fronted by the namesake lead single, has 11 offerings of different genres, including the groovy "Temptations" and the addictive "Got Me Good." It also contains the singer's self-written tracks "Cloud," "All That Jazz" and "Little Bird." She also penned the lyrics for "L.O.V.E."
"The lead single is an R&B dance piece composed by SM Entertainment producer Yoo Young-jin, who worked on my debut track ID; Peace B," BoA said. "Along with SM's founder Lee Soo-man, we three again teamed up for my latest album and this reminded me of my earlier days."
The SM Entertainment star said that through the lyrics, the song "BETTER" tells people to be bold and win love.
"Many people link BoA to the girl crush concept that shows fierce and confident women," she said. "BETTER is a song that fits into this concept, but I upgraded it to be seen as cooler."
BoA also touched on her self-written tracks, describing them as her "babies." The K-pop diva said "Cloud" is a relaxing R&B ballad, while "All That Jazz" is an autobiographical jazz-pop song.
Walking down memory lane, BoA picked the three most memorable songs of her 20-year career.
"I would pick No. 1, Only One and Girls On Top ," she said. "I won the grand prize with No. 1 at the SBS Gayo Daejeon in 2002. In the case of Girls On Top, I like it as it helped me solidify my girl crush concept."
The singer wrapped up the session by disclosing her goal.
"I truly appreciate the old me for enduring everything," she said. "From now on, I will take care of myself to keep showing people good performances. I will be more responsible for my music as well."