BoA Hits American Hoochie Mama Scene
Somewhere, Hikaru Utada may very well be facepalming.
Granted I’ve never really followed BoA, another mega Asian pop act, aside from her collaboration with m-flo, I always figured her, or at least her management staff, to have some brains given how much of a success she’s been the last few years on the Japanese music scene. It’s hard enough to break out as a major artist anywhere in the world, let alone its second largest music industry; it takes talent, but it also takes business savvy. So when I heard that BoA and various unseen forces were vying to get her act established here in America, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. It was really only recently that another Japanese pop act, and a bigger one at that, Hikaru Utada, tried to do the same thing (and no, I’m not talking about her days as Cubic U). Heck, she even had the benefit of pre-exposure in the West courtesy of the work she did prepping the theme songs for Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts on the PS2. Sadly most of you guys reading this probably already recognize that even with that hype under its belt, her American effort, Exodus, stalled out and faceplanted.
And why’s that? Judging from the reviews the album scored from customers on Amazon it seemed as if many of the songs, if not all of them, were well-received by American listeners. Well, having listened to the entirety of her album discography, I can safely say it’s definitely because of the startling difference in the style employed between Exodus and her prior releases. Not only was she marketed in a very lukewarm fashion here, but she may have also been cornered into a glitzy lip gloss whorish American pop star image by her handlers and their yesmen. So the results here are the discordant throwaway club sound of “Devil Inside” and the facepalmery lyrical drudge present in such forgettable efforts as “Easy Breezy” and “The Workout.” Whatever they were thinking, Hikki and her management team were successful in transforming a deep writer and songstress into a cheap… something. She had the tools, fluent in both Japanese and English. She had the background, born in New York and deep roots in Tokyo. She had the fan power, on both sides of the Pacific and around the world. Yet things simply didn’t click for her.
Now sometime in early 2009 we’ll have BoA whom, according to her manager Lee Soo-man, is the “best of Asia” right here in America. So, without the advantages Hikki had, how will BoA fare?
…Not so good.
“Eat You Up” indeed… And seriously, who’s brilliant idea was it to pitch “BoA dancing somewhere in American Wheat Belt under creepy huge full moon” to the music video crew?
I guess we’ll have to wait another few years to see if the next effort by an Asian artist can withstand the urge to train wreck so badly.