Album Review: BoA's Hurricane Venus

9/15/2010 01:12:00 PM



*note: I got this album as soon as it released, so I've had plenty of time to weed out what I love, like, and hate in specifics instead of in general as with 2ne1 after my first listen.*

BoA... I could sing your praises all day with this album. Sure, it has autotune (Who doesn't anymore?), but at least your lives are still indeed LIVE.  You can sing your way through most of the songs while still dancing your butt off rarely missing a beat...

Before we begin with the review, let me just say BoA was my first taste of J-pop. Without her singing Every Heart at the end of Inuyasha I might not have been introduced to such great artists like Namie Amuro, Koda Kumi, DBSK, ect. This was before I learned that she was Korean as well as DBSK and without learning about their record company SME, I might not have heard the god like voices of SHINee before moving back to my hip hop/r&b roots with Big Bang and their YG family. She pretty much sets my standards for K-pop, just as Michael Jackson set my standards for all music. I don't care whether or not she writes her own music all on her own, or if she's only the co-writer. Either way, whatever her producers churn out, it usually works for her.

BoA has recently made a comeback into the Korean market after a stay in the US promoting Best Of USA, followed by a stay in Japan promoting Identity. As far back as Best Of USA, it was evident, the direction she was going to go in her music. She had always been a somewhat candy coated pop princess lyrically ever since her first single Sara (ID Peace B in Japan), gradually moving into darker territory as she grew with her career and audience. In a way, her American singles Eat U Up and I Did It For Love (keeping the innuendos of what 'It' is ambiguous) was her coming out party. No longer was she the cute little hip hop dancing, baggy shirt and jeans wearing child prodigy singing about her cat (yeah right... *rolls eyes*) or about escaping into the internet seeking respect and independence.

No. She went from that little girl into a skinny jeans wearing, black/brown haired vixen. Her songs went from light and fluffy to in-your-face and for-the-club anthems. She still sported her baggy hip hop wear from time to time, but that didn't mean she didn't notice an oppa or dongsaeng watching. It was in Japan, we got to see BoA further shed her little girl image when she cut her hair short and her dance tracks began to become more prominent. The autotune was becoming a bit more or less obvious until she transitioned into her current metamorphoses that is Hurricane Venus.

From the start with Game, BoA starts us off with a powerful dance track complete with horns in the background, energetic bass and nearly chant-like lyrics that utilize autotune, but it is made clear that autotune will not take over and become all that the song is.

She only comes in more powerfully with the title track Hurricane Venus. In most cases, I hate stutters in vocals because the producers abuse them to death without knowing how to make them effective. It does get excessive around the 2:00 mark, but her ad-libs by 2:25 keep you from falling asleep from the monotony. 

Dangerous is even more chant-y than Game, almost militaristic in its precision. Halfway through however, the autotune becomes grating as I wait for a new sound.

Stand By answers my prayers for a break from dance tracks. For those who laud Taeyeon as an angelic singer, this debunks that claim. There is simply no comparison. Taeyeon can hit notes, but can her ballads make me want to tear up a bit when I don't even understand the lyrics? Hell no! BoA's voice is passionate and... what more can I say?! The backing track is simply beautiful. None of it is a loop done over and over again by a computer. Real musicians had a hand in this song, complete with strings and a very soft, non intruding drum that doesn't take over the other instruments, only serves to the aesthetic appeal.
The tempo picks up in a midtempo with M.E.P (My Electric Piano). Autotune is put to a minimum mercifully. It's a song that gets you up with its perkiness after the melancholic previous track. It's fun and puts a smile on my face. Her high notes are a tad screechy, but for the most part, she's got this.

Let Me is Energetic part II. A dance track for the clubs and once again a pick up in tempo from M.E.P. It's forgettable and can become background noise after a while. Her vocals aren't excessively processed. I can't really complain except that I hate the instrumental and I'm glad when it's over.

She gives us another breather, this time with Implode. This song I simply love to bits and pieces. I love a song with a nice guitar section. Sure, it's a simple loop, but sometimes, simplicity is good. The monotony is broken at 2:00 with the addition of a piano to accompany BoA's vocals. This is calming and soothing. I can fall asleep to this contently.

Adrenaline annoys me with the never ending pounding bass in the beginning. All it would need is BoA's vocals processed beyond recognition to have everything I hate in music. Even though it's not as bombastic as 2ne1's new hits, it still makes me switch to another song with it's sirens and over the top tweeks and twirks.

Ordinary Day gets my mood back on a happy note. If I have to compare it to another song I like, it would have to be Namie Amuro's Baby Don't Cry. It's easy just like well, an ordinary day.

Don't Know What To Say brings us back into emo land, with only a piano to accompany BoA's heart felt vocals. Taeyeon take notes. In this track we even get to listen to some lovely harmonics.

The CD ends with Romantic.

Excuse me while I erect this statue as tribute to her greatness.

If there is nothing I love more than a lovely piano section... This song is next and easy going. It makes me think of Peggy Lee (you young 'uns don't know nothing bout that). Jazzy, smooth, you can chill in a bubble bath and let your cares ebb away with this sweet track.


Dance Tracks:
♪ ♪ 3/4 / ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

They're sort of hit and miss. Game and Hurricane Venus give a strong start, but by Let Me the sparkle and charm die.

Mid Tempo Tracks:
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪/ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

Still upbeat and cheerful even as the summer comes to a close. They're perfect if you want a fast track without all the bleeps and blips that the dance tracks can incorporate.

Ballad Tracks:
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪/ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ 

I honestly don't think I can sing her praises anymore than I have already. 

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪1/2/ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

There could have been more mid tempos than dance tracks and the autotune -when present- does get a bit old, but for the most part, the CD is consistent and clearly establishes her concept as far as musical direction is concerned.



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