BoA’s new music video has a refreshingly real take on age

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BoA is a K-Pop staple who’s been performing since 1999. She recently dropped her first mini-album (EP) but she’s dropped plenty of regular albums and might be a bigger star in Japan than in Korea. Keeping her February busy, she’s also sung and released an album in Japanese about the societal pressure on Asian women aging into their 30’s. On top of all of that, she’s made some really solid music videos. In particular, “One Shot, Two Shot” is a delight.

BoA’s video for “One Shot, Two Shot” takes a charming and noticeably adult approach to romance and shows she has age on her mind. The core plot goes that two working adults – a man and a woman – are waiting on their trains to arrive when they see each other on separate platforms. They become smitten and start having a dance battle on their platforms. They meet and dance together on the same platform, she shoots him in a cupid’s arrow sort of way and he walks off dazed.

“One Shot, Two Shot” is downright refreshing in how it uses age. In the video, BoA looks her age, 31, and feels like an adult.

In pop and especially in K-Pop there’s a fetishization of youth and youthful attractiveness that sometimes runs amok. K-Pop’s constant and intense focus on youth means it’s all the better when an older artist bucks the trend and leans into her age.

To start, the video has two visual segments that I call the “real world” and the “dance world.” The core plot plays out in the real world and the dance world is more like a visualization of an ideal and a chance for BoA to show off her dance moves.

In the real world, BoA is decidedly older. She’s dressed fashionably but she still looks like an adult on an errand or heading back from work. There’s no backward cap, very few accessories, and more black and white than color.

In the dance world, BoA is still an adult. She has more makeup on and she’s fancier but in an elegant way. Again, there’s no fully loaded, bright and colorful K-Pop outfit (excepting the rainbow suit that comes later). There’s just a single-colored, velvet outfit with a few very classy accessories.

Right from her appearance BoA isn’t absurdly sexualized or trying to look young. There are no baby blues or lip balm pinks like you’ll see in lots of girl group music videos. She looks like an adult. In the real world, she looks like an adult during a normal day. This is refreshing because BoA is an adult. She’s a 31-year-old woman and it’s nice to see that embraced instead of covered up.

The video really gets charming for how it uses age. BoA’s male counterpart mirrors her in being a trendy but normally dressed adult. The video opens with both of them disinterestedly waiting for transit. BoA checks him out and takes on a spontaneous, youthful interest in him. They stare each other down a bit, the beat heats up, the song takes off, and then the battle begins.

They take turns dancing at each other. The dance world and the real world blend together as BoA’s dance moves in the dance world transition seamlessly over to her dance moves in the real world.

It takes about half the song for the man to get into it, but once he does the video takes on some seriously youthful panache. The real world also gets a little dose of magic realism. He throws his hands up and the lights of the subway spark and pop. In a hilarious and wonderful moment at about 2:24 he dabs and the lights above him explode. He leaps across to her platform and they dance.

When they dance the camera pays close attention to BoA’s face. Her expressions are so joyous that she seems youthful. Her joy as she has this spontaneous moment is wonderful because she still looks 30 (albeit a beautiful 30). She looks like an adult that’s escaped the boring self-seriousness of adulthood through this young and flirty interaction.

Afterwards, they both seem to carry on with their lives. There’s a touch of realism to that that I also appreciate. I know many of K-Pop’s fans are younger but even as I just crest into adulthood I appreciate art like this. I appreciate videos that take on adulthood in interesting ways instead of backing away from it. All the pop idols don’t need to look 18 forever. In fact, it’s terrifying when they do because that will never be my reality or the reality of the people I love.

BoA is still a gorgeous K-Pop star surrounded by young backup dancers. The scenario is still fanciful. Yet “One Shot, Two Shot” felt pleasantly real to me. I could connect with it in a way I usually can’t with a lot of K-Pop videos and that was refreshing.

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