BoA—”One Shot, Two Shot”

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BoA—”One Shot, Two Shot”
One Shot, Two Shot lead single
February 20th, 2018
SM Entertainment
Lyrics by BoA
Composed by Caroline Allin, Grades, and Sophia Pae
Produced by Grades
Stream: Spotify


BoA is only 31, but she’s a veteran. She was picked up by SM at age 11 and her first record dropped when she was 13, which is another way of saying she was raised from childhood as a Solid Snake-esque supersoldier. One Shot, Two Shot is her first mini album (ever!), and it’s a canny cross-section of current K-pop trends.

The mini is rich with bangers. “Nega Dola” has the same fingerstyle-guitar-and-tongue-roll attitude as Mamamoo’s “Egotistic,” and “Your Song” ascends from a spare, sinister trap murk into a bed of vocal melodies and dreamy synth pads. The closing track, “Camo,” dropped last year, along with a luscious, Bjork-influenced MV. “Camo” finds BoA in huskier voice than the rest of the mini, pushing her throat hard during the prechorus for a gritty midrange.

“One Shot, Two Shot” is more relaxed than “Camo,” with a lower tempo and rhythmic underpinning that feels extremely post-“4 Walls.” The verse is spacious, with sidechained bass swells moving under a skeletal trap beat. BoA starts breathy; it’s all about air here, the space around sounds. Then the prechorus hits, with a throatier bass sound and handclaps upping the intensity. An arpeggiator bubbles gently at the front of the mix.

Everything tightens up for the chorus. A four-on-the-floor beat starts hammering away. BoA’s voice soars upward through short reverb but lower, almost subliminal harmonies give it dimension. The blocky, squelching synth chords are probably built out of 20 layers in an expensive DAW, all fused into a meticulously EQ-ed sonic punch with a hint of fizz on its edges. And the hook! “One shot/two shot/One shot/two shot/just for one.” As simple an earworm as you could ask for. The slight chop on the last line of the chorus is neat, and BoA’s voice ping-pongs from speaker to speaker, lightning-fast; an effect subtly echoed in the choreo.

Speaking of which, I haven’t even mentioned the MV (directed by Digipedi) yet, which brings back the recurring SM trick of suspending the performers in an abstract red void (see NCT U’s “The 7th Sense” as well as the aforementioned “Camo”), in between scenes of BoA dancing with a guy on a subway platform and then … shooting him in the gut? Get it bitch!

These are two consecutive frames! How!

It’s easy to become blind to the unreal technical merits of K-pop MVs because there is a consistently high standard. But a good MV is the same as a good fight scene. The editing both preserves clarity and continuity of motion while somehow exaggerating, counterpointing, or maximizing the physical performance. If you have a few minutes to kill, try examining the match cuts in “One Shot, Two Shot” (you can advance/retreat frame-by-frame on Youtube with the comma and period keys!). Between cuts, the outfits change, but the position of the dancers is more often than not preserved with unbelievable accuracy from setup to setup. No bullshit: MVs are some of the best modern film editing you can find.

At last we come to the fits. BoA swaps from a long-sleeved blue dress to red velvet (wink wink) and sequined rainbow bodysuits during the dance bits. In the subway scenes she’s wearing a leather jacket and white shirt with boots, dark pants, and a dark blue flannel wrapped around her waist. It is the kind of look makes that you think, “Hey, y’know, I’ve probably worn something like that before. Why didn’t I look that good?”

The answer is that you did not spend two years as a child training under a media empire to become a trilingual pop star with the durability of a diamond. BoA did. May she reign forever.

All images via Youtube

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