If you’re a K-Pop fan you’d be forgiven for not recognizing the name right away but BoA is something of an elder stateswoman in the genre. BoA started her K-Pop back in 1999 when she was just a teen and she’s still going strong at 31. Despite that, BoA gets slept on more than some of the bigger girl groups or other solo-acts like Hyuna. That said, any diminishing attention isn’t a reflection of her talent. She can still put together a solid pop record and she’s done just that with “One Shot, Two Shot.”
“One Shot, Two Shot” might not rock your world but it doesn’t have a bad song on it and has a few gems. On the mini-album, BoA shows that she knows how to keep up and make pretty good K-Pop using new sounds and production. On this mini-album you’ll hear tons of trap drum rattles (the extended or stuttered “tss” sound), lots of classic synths, some verbal noises to spice things up (the “brra” on “내가 돌아
Nega Dola”), and the very clear but actually somewhat crowded production style that’s become popular.
“One Shot, Two Shot” actually reminds me of Red Velvet, the girl group that I think has the best production right now. Like with Red Velvet’s “Perfect Velvet,” “One Shot, Two Shot” has a surprising amount of depth and clutter to each track. Red Velvet and BoA both work under the SM Entertainment label so it makes me wonder if SM Entertainment isn’t pushing artists in this direction.
Regardless, it works for BoA. Her voice has a sharpness to it and she’s a talented enough singer that she can compete with really loud synth and bass lines. That’s good because most songs have pretty loud beats and a decent amount of sounds.
In “Nega Dola” the bass and the synths are both boosted so they’re about as loud as her vocals but she holds her own. I appreciate the mixing putting the vocals and the beat about on par. It shows a confidence that the vocals don’t need to be louder than everything else to get your attention and it lets the beat shine and often elevates the whole song.
The mixing elevates “Nega Dola” because it lets you hear some of the interesting pieces the beat has. There’s a very crisp and striking guitar line, really interesting automated drums, awesome beats made from super pitch-shifted vocals, a solid kick drum, and a very nice bass line. It’s easy to miss but the bass line but it’s fluid and has a few slides where they stretch the note out a bit and it’s a nice touch.
“Camo” is the other big jam on the mini-album. This is such a solid pop song. It has a very tangible beat with lots of physical touches like kick-drums, snaps, and cowbell that contrast with very computerized synth lines. I love that “Camo” cuts up the rhythm with a lot of short beats. You can count nearly every beat on every line – – vocal, synth, or otherwise – – as they hit and it makes “Camo” very danceable and fun.
“One Shot, Two Shot” similarly has a beat worth celebrating, too. though it’s not as packed as the ones in “Nega Dola” or “Camo.” “One Shot, Two Shot” centers around synth melodies throughout but it peppers in a lot of little, visceral sounds that flesh it out. Trap drum rattles, clapping wooden blocks or castanets, and crisp layers of snapping fingers do a lot of work to keep the track interesting. There’s a pleasant but still visceral and interesting simplicity to the beat that works well with BoA’s cutesy singing.
There is one vocal slip-up. K-Pop bands like to weave English into their Korean lyrics and sometimes the languages don’t blend. At about 1:40 to 1:45 BoA ends a rapid-fire Korean line by blurting out the word “strange.” It’s clumsy to the point that it made me laugh. Otherwise, the mini-album’s vocals are pretty on-point though over-produced.
The major issue I have with the album and with this new production style is that at times it does feel over-produced. Using auto-tune is fine, pumping the beat up is great, and making the beat rich with little visceral sounds is awesome. There are lots of parts of the production of the mini-album that I enjoy. Yet, I feel some elements, like some of the auto-tune on BoA’s voice, go too far and gets distracting.
“One Shot, Two Shot” can feel dull in stretches and I speculate part of that comes from having so much production that the songs that don’t have very distinct rhythms and melodies easily get lost in the noise. I kept forgetting what “Your Song” and “Recollection” sounded like because little in them stuck out to me. They got lost in the loud bass and the trap sounds.
That said, there weren’t any songs I disliked. Everything on the mini-album sounded like proficient, smartly made pop. The mini-album ended up too over-produced and by-the-numbers for me to fall in love with it as a whole but I took away some tracks I loved. “One Shot, Two Shot,” “Camo,” “Always, All Ways,” and “Nega Dola” made me feel like I slept on BoA. The rest of the tracks made me feel like I hadn’t missed out on much.