After teasing her long-awaited Korean comeback with prerelease single “Nega Dola,” Boa is finally back with mini-album “One Shot, Two Shot” and a single of the same name. The title track is a jumpy EDM sort, and the rest of the album is full of similarly trend-grasping electronic fellows who blend a bit into the background of the current K-pop scene. There’s something about the whole thing that feels tamped down, as if it’s trying to fit itself into an unnaturally shaped box. As far as I can tell, this must be due to the worries that Boa has voiced about staying relevant in an industry dominated by teenage and early-twenties idols leading the vanguard of trends that pass within a matter of months. It’s a valid concern, there’s no doubt about that, but I can’t help but wish Boa had just stuck doing Boa.
“One Shot, Two Shot” is a dance track whose main feature is that glassy wubbing synth that usually either makes or breaks a song. Here, well, it doesn’t make it, that’s for sure. I’ll admit, I expect a lot from Boa, as she’s one of the most iconic soloists in the industry and pretty much built SM Entertainment into the supreme power it is today. It’s not that there’s anything deeply wrong with this track—it just doesn’t really ever go anywhere. The hook is a little too subdued, and the verses don’t make up any ground. It might have functioned well enough as a B-side, but title tracks should be designed to punch, and this one barely even tickles.
As the rest of “One Shot, Two Shot” goes, nearly every song has great moments and weak spots. “Your Song” featuring Junoflo, for example, has a vocal-heavy hook that stick right away, but in other moments the clubby vibe just feels forced. The one true gem on this album is the Chancellor feature, “Always, All Ways,” whose highlights include a rapid-fire-phrased vocal hook and a number of gorgeous harmonies made possible by the pair’s liquid-silver vocals. Still, the album feels as if it’s missing something. Where’s the heady, uncompromising atmosphere of “Camo”? Where’s that elegantly gritty Boa that owned her concept so completely? At first, I didn’t notice that “Camo” itself is included on “One Shot, Two Shot,” and do you believe it, it came up on shuffle and I thought, “Yes! A song that feels like ‘Camo,’ finally!” before realizing 20 seconds later that it was “Camo.” Boa’s vocal destroyed that concept. The lack of such raw power is felt on the new album, where it feels like Boa is pushing herself out of her zone. Even a solid ballad could have rounded out the album if Boa’s vocals had had the chance to go the distance. But they never did. I hope that Boa’s next project will scrap the trends and pursue her own goals as an artist.
ONE SHOT, TWO SHOT: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Flopper.
Take a look at Boa’s “One Shot, Two Shot” below: