BoA - NEGA DOLA
BoA really shouldn't need an introduction, but there is no doubt that many newcomers to the K-pop world won't know who she is or her myriad of accomplishments. BoA is a solo artist under SM Entertainment that debuted all the way back in 2000. She was a huge force that weaved a strong tie between both the Japanese and Korean markets, and she had a global impact that inspired many of the current popular acts in the scene. That being said, BoA has her own style and does her own thing instead of following trends, and I really didn't know what to expect this time around. Between the teaser having flamenco guitar licks and SM's twitter clearly spitting back at criticism with their "hiphop" remark, it was a mystery as to what to expect.
The song kicks off with the soft picking and strumming of the flamenco guitar that we heard in the teaser while BoA's voice echoes behind it calling out the title of the track. Lively electric guitar chords, subtle bass plucks, temperately bright synth harmonies, and a simple drumbeat drop in to replace this introduction as we get our first taste of the chorus. There's a maraca shaking perpetually and a very high-tuned whistling understated beneath the more upfront instruments, but it definitely adds that extra layer of poppy texture.
The verses start with upbeat and fast-paced singing overtop more discriminate strumming and lot more empty space, but suddenly the guitar begins to twang some notes and BoA starts to rap. She manages to twist this right back into singing and creates a very interesting pre-chorus that sounds slick and fresh. The bridge returns the Spanish guitar as BoA delivers some heavenly vocals and we get a random feature of a guy who is not named before a powerful high note vaults us to our last refrain.
As I said earlier, I didn't know what to expect, but this is definitely not what I was imagining. I honestly thought from the teaser that there would be more of a Spanish influence throughout the majority of the song instead of just a few tiny sections, but it still plays out well. I love the little intricacies of instrumentals going on during the chorus and the surprising shift for the pre-chorus. It really builds up the energy and I'm still surprised at how smoothly the transition is from BoA rapping to singing. I think that the chorus is a little weak on delivering a real punch, but this song is still solid.
The video starts off with BoA aiming a pistol at a mannequin that's spinning around in circles, and just as she fires the song starts. We see that SM has opted to throw on a grainy filter to give it that old school feel. We get tons of scenes of BoA and crew dancing in a room tinted with cool blue tones, a deep red room that has BoA dancing on the ceiling, her in a pale yellow room full of weird mannequin parts, and her still at the shooting range. There's a few other shots of BoA in some other locales like an orange hallway, but a majority of the video is focused on her dancing, as is the usual case for her.
Honestly if there was anything going on in the video other than BoA looking as youthful as ever while pretending to shoot a gun, or simple showing the choreography, I didn't catch it. At the same time, though, I didn't expect anything else. BoA is a dancing machine, and it's always been a huge focus for fans to see exactly that and little else aside from glimpses at her gorgeous features. I'm not sure that the psuedo-retro vibe was really necessary for this song or video, but it doesn't detract too much from it overall. I had fun with the music video, though I have to say it wasn't my favorite of hers. Still, the video executes its intention and BoA did an excellent job flaunting her effortless charismatic presence as usual.
"NEGA DOLA" was a small disappoint for me, as I was really wanting a lot since it's been so long since BoA has gotten to really do anything. That's my own fault, of course, but I do think that this is a good track. My issues lie mostly with my expectations, and slightly with the lack of real bite during the chorus or hook, but otherwise I think that everything else was reasonable well-done. I would recommend that you at least check out the song and pay respects to a legendary artist, even if it's not your cup of tea, but that's probably me being a big BoA fanboy.
I've since finished my review on the mini-album, so be sure to check it out here.