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Hiding in Plain Sight

or, Why BoA is Brilliant.

BoA (Beat of Angel) is a Korean pop artist who made her debut last year to the North American audience with the album BoA. Before that, she produced a lot of albums in Japan and Korea.

Every review I've seen calls it cheap manufactured crap, mall music. Shallow lyrics. Overproduced mainstream pop with her voice turned robotic by digital effects. At best, cheerful and generic. Her music is getting air time on the kind of radio stations that play Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys.

Now look at what the lyrics on her English album are actually saying.

I feel like an atomic bomb about to detonate*
When I hear the beating drum I just want a taste
Don't want to hear no conversation, no I don't have the time
It's not about communication, that's not what's on my mind

Tonight I'm gonna dance for my life
Use my body like it's the last time
Sweat it 'til I'm gonna overload
Push a little more, let it all go! [Hypnotic Dancefloor]

I'll eat you up
I'll eat you up

If you move any closer boy there is no guarantee
What I will do to you I feel it and it's scaring me
Like I've become some kind of demon in the night
You look so tasty I could eat you up alive [Eat You Up]

I'm going crazy here by myself
I want you and no one else
Sending out a signal of my distress
I confess, I'm obsessed [Obsessed]

You scream, there's nobody to hear
It doesn't matter
It's only you and me and all of your fears
So scream, a lonely serenade
Illusions shatter
What till you're really afraid, you're gonna...
[Scream]
 

BoA is like nine-year-old Leilani Clonk in Dean Koontz's One Door Away From Heaven.

Calculating that someone as terminally bored as Darvey [the waitress] might welcome a colorful encounter to relieve the tedium of her day, might actually listen, and might enjoy involvement in a real-life drama, Leilani spoke up when, at the end of lunch, the waitress arrived with a check: "They're gonna take me up to Idaho, smash my skull with a hammer, and bury me in the woods."

Darvey blinked as slowly as a lizard sunning on a rock.

To Leilani, Preston Maddoc said, "Now sweetie, be honest with the young lady. Your mother and I aren't hammer maniacs. We're ax maniacs. We aren't going to club you to death. It's our plan to chop you up and feed you to the bears."

"I'm entirely serious," Leilani told Darvey. "He killed my older brother and buried him in Montana."

"Fed him to the bears," Preston assured the waitress. "As we always do with difficult children."

Sinsemilla affectionately ruffled her daughter's hair. "Oh Lani baby, you are such a morbid child sometimes."

Putting the lunch check on the table, Darvey said, "This is one of like a million reasons why I'm never having kids."
 

BoA was found in a talent search when she was 11, did two years of training, and produced her first album when she was 13. One of the things she's been criticized for is that she doesn't write her own songs. She won't do it, even though her fans call for it. She says she's not good enough.

* Did you know that the Japanese went from a samurai culture to complete government-enforced pacifism after the atomic bombs? Now they have an insane competitive drive, some of the highest child suicide rates in the developed world (also second highest overall in the OECD), and a reputation for schools that push you really hard and hence academic brilliance.

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Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
tigerweave
Aug. 21st, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
Don't have any patience with people who are disdainful of supposedly lightweight pop music. I remember Freddy Mercury saying to critics of Queen's music "Our songs make people feel happy for the 3 minutes they are playing. You can't get much better than giving people 3 minutes of happiness, can you?"

Except... in this case, her lyrics aren't exactly lightweight! LOL!
pyraxis
Aug. 21st, 2010 06:34 am (UTC)
I have what I think are considered pretty shallow and narrow tastes in music. I don't know a lot of serious musicians so I just kind of like what I like without understanding most of the technical complaints of indy/elite people. That's a cool way to think about it, giving people three minutes of happiness.

- j-t
tigerweave
Aug. 21st, 2010 06:41 am (UTC)
We have pretty shallow pop-music tastes too. And even our love of folk/celtic is the same - it is pretty simple music.

The only difference is we can hear the technical reasons why it is musically simple. But seriously, life is too short to get worked up about this kinda stuff. But we realised when studying music, a lot of that elitism is job-creation. If it is elite and technically difficult, only a few people can do it, right? So these so-called elite are just trying to get rid of as much of the competition as they can.
*rolls eyes*
pyraxis
Aug. 21st, 2010 07:18 am (UTC)
LOL! Yes to the elites trying to remove competition. I noticed that about art. Once you hit the end of the high school level, technical competence becomes second or third or fourth fiddle to the arbitrary tastes of whichever judges happen to be sitting in competitions that day. Without researching the personalities of particular judges, or playing to that year's popular trends, it's kind of hit or miss. That's why I decided to go into commercial art/entertainment instead of doing the gallery thing.

I'm reconsidering that now though. It's starting to seem more like a fun challenge to map the audience, and not necessarily empty.
tigerweave
Aug. 21st, 2010 07:22 am (UTC)
oooh exactly the same with music! Except that level of technical competance is hit a bit later like as an undergrad at uni perhaps.

Interesting point about going into commercial art instead of the gallery, and why.

Mapping the audience is interesting yes, applicable to writing too. And a whole nother skill-set, isn't it! At the moment it doesn't appeal to us, but in the future it may - we are only 34. Still plenty of years ahead *smiles*
yonjuunana
Aug. 24th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
Does music ever zap you?
pyraxis
Aug. 25th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
Uh only if there's other people around. But yeah, lots of times then.
jimnightmare
Aug. 25th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
I NEVER SAID HAPPY BIRTHDAY AT YOU GUYS YET! :D *points at icon*

e.: It has a face? What's it do?

Jim: No it's just a cake, I just drew it on there-

e.: *stares at cake*

Cake: Hi.

Jim: Oh shit it talks?! You can't eat it if it talks! D:

Cake: Happy birthday, pyraxis!

Jim: Oh that's better! :D
pyraxis
Aug. 25th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you thank you thank you!

I got a book of Photoshopped spot-the-difference pictures and an orange notebook holder with a dragon on it and a big sushi dinner and of course the whole trip with shashigai. And Pyraxis got a book about how to do things like sneak out of meetings at work and some other stuff.

I got to swim in big waves in the ocean!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )