Screencaps from interview with BoA prior to her debut (1999~2000)
BoA grew up in South Korea with two older brothers. At the age of eleven, her brother was auditioning in a talent search for the next international icon held by Korean musical conglomerate SM Entertainment. BoA was brought along and eventually chosen. After her reluctant parents agreed to letting her pursue a career in singing rather than focus on school, BoA was trained in singing, dancing, and foreign language before finally making her Korean album debut.
ID; Peace B
Cover of BoA's Korean debut album: ID; Peace B
After two years of vigorous training, at the age of thirteen, BoA released her Korean debut album ID; Peace B on August 25, 2000. The album won much acclaim and climbed into the top ten, going on to sell 218,114 copies. The album and its promotion dazzled people with BoA's powerful singing and dancing, and helped garner interest from overseas. As her popularity grew, BoA signed a recording contract with Japanese music giant avex trax, leading to her Japanese debut album.
Jumping into the World
In early 2001 BoA released her first mini album, Jumping into the World, which showcased more of her vocal skills. After this album was released, BoA took a hiatus from the Korean music industry to focus on the Japanese market. The months prior to release of her first Japanese single were spent entirely in Japan, and BoA was only allowed to speak Japanese in order to solidify her hold of the language. BoA described these months as some of her saddest and most lonely.
Listen to My Heart
Cover of BoA's Japanese debut album, Listen to My Heart
The recording contract that BoA signed with avex trax resulted in BoA's foray into the Japanese music industry. In 2001 she released her first Japanese single, a Japanese version of ''ID; Peace B''. Although the single debuted at only #20 on the Oricon chart it received wide-spread publicity since BoA was a young foreigner with phenomenal dancing skills for her age. ''ID; Peace B'' was followed by subsequent singles ''Amazing Kiss'' (#23), ''aaaaaaaa (Kimochi wa Tsutawaru)'' (#15), and ''Listen to My Heart'' (#5). The single ''Listen to My Heart'' catapulted BoA into the spotlight (since few foreigners break into the top 5 in Japan) and went on to sell over 179,000 copies. Finally, her much anticipated Japanese debut album, Listen To My Heart, was released on March 13, 2002. On the shoulders of the lead single, ''Listen to My Heart'', the album debuted at #1 on the Oricon chart and would go on to sell over 930,000 copies domestically and over 1,300,000 copies worldwide. This was a surprise not only because it was BoA's debut and she was a foreigner, but also because the album's release was during the 2002 World Cup, when Japan was playing Korea and tensions were high. On the same day as the album's release, BoA's 5th single ''Every Heart -aaaaaaa-'' was released. The song was the ending theme for the hit anime series InuYasha; the single peaked at #10 on the charts.
Cover of BoA's second Korean Album, NO.1
Less then a month after BoA's chart-topping performance in Japan she released her second full studio Korean album, NO.1. This album catapulted BoA to the top of the charts in Korea and became her biggest selling Korean album, with over 572,000 copies (excluding overseas sales). Now BoA's name was popping up all across Asia and her popularity skyrocketed. The album was also released in Japan and peaked at #15 on the charts—a very strong performance, especially for a non-English or Japanese album. Later in the year she would win a DaeSang award for this album, making her the youngest artist to ever receive one.
In September 2002 BoA released her second Korean mini-album. Featuring some Korean renditions of her Japanese songs and several original songs, this album is hailed by many as one of BoA's best Korean releases.
Cover of BoA's second Japanese Album, Valenti
After stellar album sales in both South Korea and Japan, BoA continued releasing singles in anticipation for her second Japanese album, including ''Don't Start Now'' (#17), a Japanese rendition of a song from her Korean mini-album, and her biggest hit single ''Valenti''. It peaked at #2 on the charts, her highest showing on the singles chart at the time, and would go on to sell over 200,000 copies. ''Valenti'' was quickly followed by two more hit singles: ''ae (Kiseki)/ NO.1'' (#3), ''JEWEL SONG / BESIDE YOU-aaaaa(boku wo yobu koe)-'' (#3). On January 29, 2003, her second full studio album Valenti was released. This album compounded the success of her previous Japanese album and hit ''#1'' on the charts (with 700,000 preorders and 280,000 copies sold on the day of release). It became BoA's highest selling Japanese album, selling over 1,250,000 copies domestically (making her the highest and fastest selling foreigner in Japanese history) and 1,300,000 copies worldwide. Valenti put BoA in the spotlight of the Japanese music scene with other big players such as Ayumi Hamasaki and Utada Hikaru. The album's live tour was sold out in Osaka and Nagoya within 15 minutes and in Tokyo within a day. The album would go on to become one of the top 5 selling albums of the year in Japan.BoA's Valenti (song) was also featured on Andamiro's popular dance simulation game, Pump It Up.
Cover of BoA's third full Korean Album, Atlantis Princess
This highly anticipated album again topped the charts in Korea. Released on May 30, 2003, Atlantis Princess would go on to sell over 340,000 copies. This album was well received throughout Korea and would move on to receive multiple awards later in the year.
Shine We Are!
BoA released her third (and last to date) mini-album Shine We Are!. This album again showcased Korean renditions of her Japanese songs, but would receive criticism for the darker, more mature image portrayed on the cover and would thus go on to barely sell 80,000 copies (the most likely explaination for why BoA has released no more mini-albums since).
Love & Honesty
Cover of BoA's third full Japanese Album, Love & Honesty
After the release of her hit albums Valenti and Atlantis Princess and her first country-wide tour ''LIVE TOUR 2003 -VALENTI-'' (in Japan; she has never done a full scale country-wide tour in Korea), BoA continued to pursue her activities in Japan. She released several hit singles for her upcoming album: ''Shine We Are! / Earthsong'' (#2), ''DOUBLE/Midnight Parade/Milky Way - aaa'' (#2), and ''Rock With You'' (#5). ''Rock With You'' showcased a new, controversial style for BoA as it was a more "pop-rock" song but still performed reasonably well in sales. Then on January 15, 2004 her highly anticipated third Japanese album, Love & Honesty, was released. It again hit #1 on the Oricon chart and would go on to sell over 650,000 copies domestically and over 800,000 copies worldwide. Although it did not sell as well as her album Valenti, it was still among the top albums in sales for 2004. Another single from the album, ''Be the One'' (#15), was released a month later. Later, the album's live tour would prove to be a huge success (in some venues, the arenas were filled to a thousand above capacity due to the high demand for seats).
A picture of BoA performing ''My Name''
2004 also brought the release of BoA's fourth full Korean album, My Name. This album aroused much controversy because it showcased a complete style shift from young and cute to a much more mature look (BoA was turning 19 Korea]; 18 by western standards, since age is a count of a person's year in life in Korea}). It would again top the charts in Korea and go on to sell over 200,000 copies. These sales, though slightly lower than that of her debut's, were very strong considering the heavy recession in the music industry of South Korea. Some people point to this album as the beginning of BoA's decrease in Korean popularity and the album was consequently followed by more focus on the Japanese market.
Best of Soul
Cover of BoA's first "Best of" Album compilation, ''Best of Soul''
After the release of Love & Honesty and her highly acclaimed second live arena tour ''LIVE TOUR 2004 LOVE & HONESTY'', more singles were released: ''QUINCY / aaaaaaa (Konoyono Shirushi)'' (#4) and ''aaaaaa (Merikuri)'' (#5). However, instead of releasing her expected fourth Japanese language studio album, BoA released her first "Best of" compilation album of her Japanese singles up to that point (plus a bonus track: ''La La La Love Song feat SOUL'd Out'', and also ''The Love Bug'' feat. M-Flo). This album catapulted BoA again to the #1 position on the charts and went on to sell over 1,060,000 copies and 1,200,000 copies worldwide. Best of Soul made BoA the first non-Japanese singer to have two albums sell over a million copies domestically: ''Valenti'' and ''Best of Soul''. It reaffirmed BoA's position as one of the top singers in Japan; her third live tour would again be sold out, and this album would be the ninth highest selling album of 2005.
Girls on Top
Cover of BoA's fifth Korean Album, Girls on Top
In 2005 BoA released her highly anticipated fifth album, Girls on Top. It topped the charts and so far has sold approximately 115,000 copies. Although the sales were disappointing to many, one should note that Korean album sales have dropped by over 50% from 2004 alone, so sales of over 100,000 copies are very respectable. The album also hit #1 in Taiwan, showcasing BoA's popularity outside of South Korea and Japan.
Post-Best of Soul Japanese activity
Capitalizing on the success of Best of Soul, BoA's 15th single ''Do the Motion'' hit #1 on the Oricon chart, making her only the fifth non-Japanese singer to have a single hit #1 and the first in over 21 years. In September BoA went on to release her 16th single, ''make a secret'' (#4), which would end up as a flop, selling barely 50,000 copies. Her 17th single, ''aaaaa (Dakishimeru)'' (#8), was released on November 23, 2005 and although it is still charting, appears to be following the same disappointing sales path as ''make a secret''. Her 18th single (and probably last before her next full studio album), ''Everlasting'', will be January 18, 2006 and will most likely be a ballad. Due to the release date of her 18th single, her next full studio Japanese album will most likely be released in either February or March of 2006. BoA also released her first digital single: ''Merry Christmas from BoA'', on December 7th, and it will be distributed from the site, http://www.mu-mo.net/, until December 25th. She will also be performing in the NHK Best Singers contest for the fourth year in a row (She is the first and only foreigner to ever perform in the event for that many years) with other top Japanese artists such as SMAP and Ayumi Hamasaki.
Post-Girls on Top Korean activity
BoA celebrated the five year anniversary of her Korean debut with fans on August 25, 2005 and to advertise for the special event, a new limited edition "MOTO" repackaging for the Girls on Top album was released. Also, it is rumoured that BoA's sixth Korean album may be pushed back from the expected release of summer 2006 as far as early 2007 due to BoA's entrance into the Chinese market next year.
BoA is planning on entering the Chinese market sometime in 2006 (most likely in the summer after her fourth Japanese live tour). She has released several overseas versions of her albums in Taiwan and China already so she is reasonably well known in both countries (e.g Girls on Top hit #1 in Taiwan in September 2005).
Entrance into the U.S. market
An official SM representative, Kim Young Min, from Herald Media, has stated that BoA is preparing for her U.S. debut. (Although this will most likely be in the distant future, after she has established her presence in the Chinese market).
Korean discographyNote: Sales posted include only sales in Korea and not sales in Taiwan, China, Japan, or other countries.
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