The Queen is back! It’s felt like years that BoA has been in the centre of Hallyu attention, and it’s been a long time since we’ve even received news of a full studio release, with her last Korean album released in 2015 and her last full Japanese studio album “IDENTITY” in 2010 (and before someone corrects me, I confess that we can’t really count “WHO’S BACK?” for that fact it featured previous single releases and only two new songs). Though BoA has trickled through with some amazing singles So, on Christmas Eve of 2017, the sudden release of a new Japanese MV along with a message that she would be releasing a new Japanese album on 14th February 2018 (Valentine’s Day no less!) was a welcome surprise for old fans and new fans alike. ‘Jazzclub’ and its MV that begins the process of BoA’s promoting for her upcoming album “Watashi Kono Mama De Ii No Kana?” (“I Wonder If I Am Okay To Stay Like This?”), and what an MV it is.
What makes BoA so unique—unlike other Hallyu artists—is her ability to transcend cultures seamlessly though undeniably this has happened over time. Having promoted in both Korea and Japan simultaneously—moving between Korea and Japan constantly and having to adapt and acclimatize quickly and quietly—she added the United States of America to that mix. ‘Jazzclub’ is a shout-out to all three: the Korean discipline in dance and performance, the Japanese subtleties in acting and tone, and the American attitude and confidence, and that makes it even more interesting to watch. Whilst as a track ‘Jazzclub’ is BoA’s experimentation with electro-swing with jazz and synthpop influences, the MV has a Broadway feel that only works in an American setting.
The MV opens with a fully English-fluent BoA on the phone to a former lover, whom—without her knowledge—has married as soon as she sets down in New York. After she becomes disheartened by the news, she asks the taxi driver to ‘take [her] anywhere fun’ and eventually finds herself in a freestyle out-of-town dance club where anything and everything goes.
Of course, given the setting, a great choreography is a must. As ever, BoA delivers a great choreography with a racially mixed dance troupe (again, showing just how international and inclusive BoA is now becoming), whilst looking flawless with both male and female backup dancers. The dance is nothing spectacular or complicated, but it’s nevertheless fun, innovative, and theatrical.
As for production, it has a complete Broadway musical feel: it’s very unlike the J-Pop currently being released (which is currently focused on either RADWIMPS-like rock style or cutesy AKB-esque style tracks), and is focused on performance (indeed, having a whole rift focused on BoA scatting only adds a new layer of performance to the MV). With that Broadway feel, the cinematography also reflects this: sometimes going for fixed camera recording to free-moving gives the whole MV and its choreography a much more energetic and chaotic feel that you otherwise wouldn’t get.
As ever, BoA—despite turning 30 this year—still looks like the BoA from her early releases, just more classy and refined. ‘Jazzclub’ is a definite shout-out to her new sound and image and—though it’s been 8 years (or 4 depending on how you’re counting!), it’ll be with “Watashi Kono Mama De Ii No Kana?” that BoA can really throw out a new image for her old and new fans alike. Ganbatte, BoA!