Caught by the BoA constrictor…
I can’t get this song out of my head! I hate when that happens but it is so catchy that the chorus of the song has been in my brain all weekend and will not go away.
It’s BoA’s Hurricane Venus. Hurricane Venus? Hurricanes are named in alphabetical order. The now infamous Hurricane Katrina then was the 11th Hurricane of 2005, and it hit in August, which is the peak in the Hurricane Season. That means that any Hurricane Venus would be the 20th Hurricane, as naming conventions forbid the hurricanes from being named with Q, U, X, Y, or Z. I’d hate to live anywhere in the Caribbean in a year that any Hurricane Venus came along because that would mean that 19 hurricanes preceded it. Hurricanes are tropical cyclones that form in the Atlantic Ocean. In the Pacific, they are called typhoons. In Asia, (Japan at least), they are simply named by number. (Typhoon No. 10 for example.) This is much easier to follow in my opinion, but I guess that naming the storm makes it more memorable if it were to cause a lot of damage. Katrina will always be remembered, but I’m not sure Hurricane No. 11 of 2005 has the same ring to it…
Get on with it! This article is about BoA, not weather!
Okay, okay. BoA. Well, to tell you the truth, BoA, is probably one of Korea’s most well known stars outside of Korea. In fact, she became really popular in Korea only after becoming huge in Japan. That’s not entirely true, I guess, because she did debut in Korea first, but went to Japan early on in her career and met huge success there. The success in Japan translated to success in Korea. Usually Korean artists that go to Japan under a major record label are already huge in Korea. And sometimes they fail miserably despite their success in Korea. That’s what makes BoA so interesting. She hit it big in Japan. In fact, she has 7 Japanese albums and only 6 Korean ones. It’d be more correct to say that BoA isn’t a K-pop star, but an international star who sometimes releases music in the K-pop market.
To learn more about BoA and my personal experience with her (with her music, that is… I’ve never met her in person.) Read on!
After reading wikipedia, I learned that BoA actually got scouted at age 11 and debuted in 2000 with moderate success. She then took a hiatus from Korea and went to Japan to study and debut there. This is before I knew who she was exactly. It wasn’t until 2002 that I even knew anything about her.
It was actually a Japanese friend of mine in the U.S. that told me about her. My friend kept talking about some 16 year old Korean girl who’s making it HUGE in Japan. I thought to myself, “who cares? What would a Japanese person know about Korean music?” I didn’t want to get to know BoA because of my own prejudice at the time. I felt it was a front to my own Korean heritage to like a Korean artist specifically because Japanese like her. (That has got to sound really strange to some people, I am sure.) To make matters worse, the biggest music video she made that year opens with a shot of Tokyo tower and has BoA in locations that are unmistakably Japanese as if to say “HEY LOOK AT ME!!! I’M IN JAPAN!!! THAT MAKES ME SO COOL!!!”
But then something happened. A friend from Korea sent me a CD with a mix of Korean songs on it. One of them was BoA’s No.1 (from the above video). The song became addictive, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Later that year, I moved to Japan, and one of the few artists that I knew in the J-pop scene was BoA. Conversations about BoA actually helped me to make friends among Japanese, as we had something in common that helped us to connect. So even though my initial reaction to her was quite negative, I have to apologize, because she makes some awesome music.
Sometime when I was in Japan she released a song called Valenti. It took the J-pop scene by storm and it was being played everywhere. and I couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks.
This song was actually written in Japanese first and released in Japan long before BoA made its Korean counterpart. I think that might have been a first for her, because previous songs were made in Korean first, then translated into Japanese.
I don’t know exactly how much contribution BoA herself has in songwriting but I remember her having an interview with Matthew on Matthew’s best hit TV in which she talked about her first experience writing and composing in Japanese.
(Edit: I actually found the video of her and Matthew, and it turns out that this was about a different song, “Every Heart, 皆の気持ち (Mina no kimoti, the feeling of everyone)”.)
A little bit after that, another friend from Korea sent me another CD with Korean music on it, and there was one song on there that I couldn’t get out of my head for weeks! Once again, it was BoA!!!!
I moved back to the U.S. in 2005, and then to Korea in 2006. Sometime when I was in Korea, BoA tried to break into the U.S. market. I was, well hopeful, but not optimistic. So many Asian artists had tried to make it in the U.S. Even Utada Hikaru, probably Japan’s most popular female artist, who speaks English natively and writes and composes her own songs ventured into the U.S. and was mediocre at best. BoA, I thought, wouldn’t fare much better.
Well she tried and BoA’s English Language single was OK, but it was probably the most notable song of hers that didn’t get stuck in my head. I heard it once, and though, meh…
The album sold 11,000 copies in the U.S. and 15,000 in Korea. It peaked at #127 on the Billboard chart. Utada Hikaru’s album peaked at #160. So BoA was somewhat more successful. However, album sales are declining recently, and Hikky actually sold 5 times as many albums in the U.S. in her debut than BoA did.
BoA has been pretty active in Japan and the U.S. since then, and I didn’t take much notice of her, because I live in Korea. She kind of fell out of my consciousness for a while until I saw her on Inkigayo promoting Hurricane Venus.
I STILL CAN’T GET THAT SONG OUT OF MY HEAD!!!!!!
Oh Oh OH OH Huricane ane ane VEEEEENUSSSS!!!!!!
(I’m going to tweet this article to BoA hoping that she’ll retweet it, but seeing as how she has 90,000 followers, I doubt she’ll even notice this. But here’s hoping.