Kwon Boa (born November 5, 1986), commonly stylized and known by her stage name BoA, which is a backronym for Beat of Angel, is a Korean singer, active in South Korea, Japan, and the United States and sometimes referred to as the "Queen of Korean Pop Music".
BoA is a Roman Catholic, she was born and raised in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, BoA was discovered by SM Entertainment talent agents when she accompanied her older brother to a talent search. In 2000, after two years of training, she released ID; Peace B, her debut Korean album. Two years later, she released her debut Japanese album, Listen to My Heart, becoming the first Korean pop star to break through in Japan following the fall of barriers that had restricted the import and export of entertainment between the countries since the end of World War II.
On October 14, 2008, BoA debuted in the United States with the single "Eat You Up" and released her debut English-language album, BoA on March 17, 2009.
BoA's multilingual skills (she speaks Japanese and English along with native Korean and has recorded songs in Mandarin Chinese) have contributed to her commercial success throughout East Asia. She is the only foreign artist to have two albums selling more than one million copies in Japan and is one of only three artists to have six consecutive number-one studio albums on the Oricon charts since her debut, the others being Ayumi Hamasakiand Koda Kumi.
At age eleven, BoA accompanied her older brother to an SM Entertainment talent search. Though her brother was the one who auditioned as a break-dancer, SM talent scouts instead took notice of BoA and offered her a contract on the same night as the auditions. Her parents initially opposed the notion of BoA's leaving school to enter the entertainment business but eventually consented at her older brothers' persuasion. She has said that her early influence as a singer was Seo Taiji.
BoA underwent two years of training (involving vocal, dance, English, and Japanese lessons), and at the age of thirteen released her debut album ID; Peace B in South Korea on August 25, 2000. The album was moderately successful; it entered the Top 10 of the South Korean charts and sold around 156,000 units. Meanwhile, her Korean record label, SM Entertainment, made arrangements with Japanese label Avex Trax to launch her music career in Japan. She was forced to quit school to prepare and in early 2001, BoA released her first mini-album, Don't Start Now; it sold around 90,000 units. After its release, she took a hiatus from the Korean music industry to focus on the Japanese market at which time she worked to solidify her skills in Japanese.
BoA began her Japanese music career singing at the Avex-owned club Velfarre. In 2001, she released her debut Japanese single, a Japanese version of the song, "ID; Peace B" (originally from the eponymous album). The single reached #20 on the Oricon chart and was followed by "Amazing Kiss", "Kimochi wa Tsutawaru", and "Listen to My Heart"; the last became the singer's first single to enter the Oricon's Top Five. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, BoA recorded the charity single "The Meaning of Peace" with Kumi Koda as part of Avex's Song Nation project to raise funds for charity. From 2001 to 2007, BoA hosted Beat it BoA's World, a radio program on the Japan FM Network.
Her debut Japanese album, Listen to My Heart, was released on March 13, 2002. The album was a breakthrough in BoA's career: it became an RIAJ-certified million-seller and debuted atop the Oricon, the first album by a Korean artist to do so. A single, "Every Heart: Minna no Kimochi", was released on the same day as the album. After the release of Listen to My Heart, BoA released her second Korean studio album, No.1, a month later. The album sold around 544,000 units and became the fourth-best-selling record of the year in South Korea. Jumping into the World (a Japanese re-release of the mini-album Don't Start Now) and the Japanese single "Don't Start Now" were released a month later on the same day.
BoA then released her seventh single "Valenti". It peaked at the number-two position on the Oricon chart. BoA released two more singles "Kiseki / No.1" and "Jewel Song / Beside You: Boku o Yobu Koe", both which also peaked at the number-three position. At the end of the year, BoA released her second Korean mini-album Miracle.
BoA's second Japanese studio album, Valenti (2003), became her best-selling album, with over 1,249,000 copies sold. In support of the album, BoA launched BoA 1st Live Tour Valenti, her first Japanese concert tour. Later that year, she released two Korean albums, Atlantis Princess and the mini-album Shine We Are!. The former was the fifth-best-selling South Korean record of the year with around 345,000 units sold; the latter sold around 58,000 units.
Her third Japanese studio album, Love & Honesty (2004) was a musical "change in direction": it contained a rock-dance song ("Rock with You") and "harder" R&B. Though the album failed to match Valenti in sales, it topped the Oricon chart for two weeks and became RIAJ-certified triple-platinum. In support of the album, BoA held a tour, Live Concert Tour 2004: Love & Honesty. In contrast with 1st Live Tour, which "emphasized exotic Asian design", the Love & Honesty tour had an "outer-space, sci-fi" theme; among the props were a three-story-high space ship and the robot Asimo. The tour, which started in Saitama and ended in Yokohama, spanned nine performances and attracted approximately 105,000 attendants. Her first compilation album, Best of Soul (2005), however, sold over a million copies, making BoA the first non-Japanese Asian singer to have two million-selling albums in Japan.
BoA reinvented her image on her fourth Korean album, My Name (2004); she left the "cute" and "youthful" style that had characterized previous years and presented herself as "sexy" and "sultry". The album was the beginning of a foray into the Chinese market and contained two songs sung in Mandarin Chinese. The sales of BoA's Korean albums began to decline: the album sold 191,000 units and became the eleventh-best-selling South Korean album of the year. In September 2004, BoA instigated controversy in Japan when she donated ₩50 million to a memorial project for Korean independence activist and nationalist An Jung-geun.
Her fifth Korean album, Girls on Top (2005), continued her image change. The album portrayed the singer as more "mature and self-confident" and was a "declaration of war on male chauvinism"; the "bohemian" look of the cover photograph represented "freedom and depth", while music videos and album photographs that portrayed BoA in traditional Korean dress brought the "idea of Korean womanhood" into her music. The album also continued BoA's foray into the Chinese market and, like the previous album, contained Mandarin Chinese songs. The album sold less than the previous album; it was the fourteenth-best-selling record of the year in South Korea with 113,000 units sold.
In 2006, BoA was mostly inactive in South Korea as she focused her attention on Japan. Her fourth Japanese studio album, Outgrow, was released on February 15, 2006. The album reached the number-one spot on the Oricon chart for its first week of release, making it her fourth consecutive original Japanese album to do so. With 220,000 copies sold, it became her lowest-selling first-week debut for a studio album at that point. "Do the Motion", the first single from the album, reached the top spot, making her the fourth non-Japanese Asian to have a number-one single on the Oricon charts. "Merry Christmas from BoA" (2005), the album's last single, was the singer's first digital single.
In May, BoA renewed her contract with SM Entertainment until 2012. At the time it was noted that she had a shareholding in the company of 100,000 (Approximately worth $1m USD). She also voiced Heather the possum in the Korean and Japanese version of the animated film Over the Hedge.On September 21, 2006, she released her first digital single in Korea, a Korean version of "Key of Heart". In support of Outgrow, BoA launched a special Zepp tour, B0A The Live, on September 29, 2006. The tour, which lasted until October 29, started from Nagoya and contained twelve shows, two in each of the following cities: Nagoya, Fukuoka, Osaka, Tokyo, Sendai, and Sapporo. She staged her first Christmas concert on December 7, 2006.
BoA's fifth Japanese studio album, Made in Twenty (20) (2007), continued her transition from a "teenage girl" image to a more mature image. The album, which contained R&B and dance songs as well as ballads, debuted at the top of the weekly Oricon charts, making the album her sixth in a row to do so (including one compilation). She began using a personal computer for composing one of the songs ("No More Make Me Sick"). On March 31, 2007, she launched a nationwide tour of Japan in support of the album. The tour, which sold about 70,000 tickets, was, according to BoA, "the biggest concert" she had ever given. Two tracks from the singles of Made in Twenty (20) were used as theme songs; "Your Color", from the single "Nanairo no Ashita: Brand New Beat / Your Color" (2006), was used as the ending theme song for the Japanese release of the Xbox 360 game Ninety-Nine Nights. "Key of Heart", from the single "Key of Heart / Dotch" (2006), was the ending theme for the Japanese release of the movie Over the Hedge. She also released an English version of "Key of Heart", which was only available on the first press edition of the single. Later in 2007, Anycall (a Samsung brand) signed BoA, Xiah (of TVXQ), Tablo (of Epik High), and jazz pianist Jin Bora onto "Anyband", a band created specifically to promote Anycall. The band released only one single, "AnyBand".
With her sixth Japanese album, The Face (2008), BoA took more creative control over her music. At this time, BoA was influenced by electro-pop. Additionally, BoA included "happy spring" songs (the lead single "Sweet Impact" and its B-side, "Bad Drive"), a guitar-driven "groovy dance" song (2007's "Lose Your Mind"), and ballads. Lyrically, BoA focused mainly on love, though "Be with You." (2008) was about a person's relationship with his dog. The album debuted at the top of the weekly Oricon charts, making BoA one of only two artists in Japan to have six consecutive studio albums top the Oricon weekly charts (the other is Ayumi Hamasaki, who has eight consecutive number-one albums). On June 9, 2008, BoA and nine other artists from around the world recorded an English cover of Wei Wei's "Dedication of Love". Produced by Roald Hoffmann and Brian Alan, the single was used to raise funds for victims of the Sichuan Earthquake. Korean jewelry brand Ramee also released Ramee by BoA, a line of jewelry designed by the singer herself.
On September 2, 2008, it was announced that BoA would make her American debut under a new subsidiary label, SM Entertainment USA.
BoA's debut American single "Eat You Up," produced by Thomas Troelsen, was released online on October 21, 2008. A physical promotional CD containing dance remixes of "Eat You Up" was released. "Eat You Up" placed at #9 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart. The remix of "Eat You Up" featuring rapper Flo Rida was slated for release in late November and leaked onto the internet in December. BoA performed "Eat You Up" as well as other songs at YouTube's Tokyo Live concert, and performed in New York City on December 3, 2008, as well as the Jingle Ball at the Anaheim Honda Center on December 6, 2008. She also performed the song "Look Who's Talking" at the event.
BoA released a triple-A-side single in Japan on February 18, 2009, "Eien/Universe/Believe in Love". On the same day, the Ravex single "Believe in Love" was released, featuring vocals by BoA.
BoA's self-titled English album was released in the US on March 17 and featured tracks by producers Bloodshy and Avant as well as a duet with Sean Garrett. Her second Japanese compilation album, Best & USA was released on March 18 tying together a compilation of recent hits in Japan with her English-language debut.
BoA stated that "It has always been my dream to debut in America" and was tutored English in LA, but found the language tougher to learn than Japanese. She lived in West Beverly Hills but admitted finding it tough to make friends.
BoA headlined as a performer for the San Francisco Pride Festival on June 28, 2009 alongside Solange Knowles and The Cliks. She debuted her next single "Energetic", performing it for the first time in public. She also performed "Eat You Up" and "I Did It for Love."
On August 31, SM USA released BoA Deluxe, a repackaged version of her debut English album. The album contained two new tracks and the radio edit version of "Energetic".
With her US career struggling to gain traction, BoA returned to the Japanese market to release a new single entitled "Bump Bump!" (October 2009), which features label-mate Verbal from M-Flo. BoA then released "Mamoritai: White Wishes" (December 2009) and held a Christmas concert in December.
Her seventh Japanese album, Identity was released on February 10, 2010, but only charted at #4, selling 37,606 copies in its first week. With little promotion from her label, it ended her run of six consecutive #1 albums, suggesting that it would be impossible for her to sustain her career in three territories simultaneously.
On March 1, 2010, SM Entertainment announced that BoA would, on her 10th debut anniversary, release a first full-length Korean album after five years.
On July 21, 2010, Avex released the "Woo Weekend" single, the lead song of which was used to promote Disney on Ice's 25th Anniversary in Japan. BoA's official Korean website announced on July 23, 2010 that her comeback sixth Korean album would be entitled Hurricane Venus. Hurricane Venus was released on August 5, 2010 and debuted at No.1, where it stayed for 2 weeks. "Game" charted at No.6. A repackaged version of the album with two new songs under the name of "Copy & Paste" was released in September, 2010. The album won a Bonsang Award from the Golden Disk Awards in 2010, making it the first time in her career to receive the award. On December 6, 2010, Avex released a digital single, "I See Me", for a commercial that promoted Audio Technica headphones in Japan.
In October BoA represented Korea and performed at the 7th Asia Song Festival, organised by Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange, at the Seoul Olympic Stadium.
BoA will have her Hollywood movie debut in the dance film 'COBU 3D', directed by Duane Adler and produced by Robert Colt. It is set for an early 2012 release. BoA will play a character called Aya, while Derek Hough (known from the U.S. TV show Dancing with the Stars) will play the male lead of Donny. Aya and Donny fall in love, even though their families are enemies on the dance scene. Filming began in Spring in New York City and Toronto, Canada.
On October 2011, BoA announced on her Twitter page that she will be releasing a new Japanese single: "Many ppl asking me when I'm gonna release my next single in Japan... I'm preparing my single now. So you'll be able to listen to it soon!". Then on October 6 she wrote: "Heading to the set for my new music video. It was later on announced by Avex that she will be releasing her single titled "Milestone" on December 7, 2011. The music video premiered on November 21 through MTV Japan. The single ranked at #4 on the Oricon Weekly Music-DVD charts.
In December, she served as a judge on SBS’s K-pop Star representing SM Entertainment with Yang Hyun Suk from YG Entertainment and Park Jin-young from JYP Entertainment. And her judging is being favorably reveiwed.
On March 2, 2012, SM Entertainment confirmed that BoA will be making a 2012 comeback. It was eventually verified that BoA's 2012 comeback will be Korean. However, the date of the comeback is still unverified. On March 16, 2012, it was announced that BoA will be releasing a Korean single the next day titled 'One Dream' as the theme song for SBS 'Kpop Star.' The song will also feature SHINee's Key and Super Junior-M's Henry as the rappers. This will be the first Korean song by BoA since 'Copy&Paste' in 2010.
BoA lists hip hop as her main musical influence, though she also enjoys R&B. Her favorite musicians are Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Nelly, Britney Spears, Brian McKnight, Justin Timberlake, Pink, and Jay-Z; as a result, much of BoA's music is either dance pop or R&B. Because she also sings ballads, she is often compared to fellow Japanese singers Ayumi Hamasaki and Hikaru Utada. Her debut album, ID; Peace B, contained urban pop, "slickly produced" ballads, and "upbeat dance tunes". As her career went on, she began experimenting with different styles: Valenti contained mostly ballads; Love and Honesty was an experiment with "harder" R&B and rock music.
Because the composition and writing of BoA's songs is handled mostly by her staff, BoA has been criticized as being a "manufactured pop star".In response to such criticism, BoA said that "if one person were to force their own will on something, then things that should have gone right could easily go wrong" and that she is "not all that unhappy with the expression that [she is] a manufactured star. In a way, that is true. Because SM Entertainment created the environment and all the surrounding conditions, [she is] able to be successful in the way [she is] now." Though her earlier releases were marked by a "cute" and "youthful" style, BoA began to present a more "mature" image starting from the album My Name. In a Talk Asia interview, Anjali Rao noted that some felt that My Name marked the beginning of BoA's decline in popularity and asked if the public would always see the singer as "Little Baby BoA"; BoA replied, "So while I apologize to those people who still want the baby BoA, in fact, what can I do? I just keep growing up! I can't stop that from happening."
BoA has collaborated with high-profile artists. Among the Japanese artists she has performed with are the hip hop group M-Flo (for the single "The Love Bug"), pop singer Kumi Koda, and house DJ Mondo Grosso. She has performed with Western artists: the song "Flying Without Wings" from her album Next World was a collaboration with Irish band Westlife covering the original song; the Bratz single "Show Me What You Got" was performed with Howie D of the American band Backstreet Boys. She also worked with Akon, singing the song "Beautiful", which was featured on the Japanese release of his third album, Freedom. Other artists she has collaborated with are Soul'd Out, Dabo, Verbal (of M-Flo), Rah-D, Seamo, TVXQ, Yutaka Furakawa (of the band Doping Panda), and Crystal Kay (for her single After Love: First Boyfriend/Girlfriend). American rock band Weezer covered "Meri Kuri" on the Japanese version of their album Weezer (The Red Album).
BoA is a "top artist" in South Korea and Japan; her popularity in the latter is attributed to her linguistic skills (she speaks and records in Japanese, Korean, and English) and a Japanese interest in Korean pop culture started in the early 2000s when the two countries began promoting cultural exchanges. BoA's popularity extends throughout East Asia; she has fans in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore. She has expressed plans to enter a global market; she stated in an interview, "I will [...] get recognition in the U.S. and Europe to become a world-renowned Diva." In June 2006, the music video of her Korean song "My Name" became the first music video ever shown on MTV K, an MTV music channel directed at Korean Americans.
Because of her wide appeal, BoA has appeared in advertisements for many brands. Among the brands she has promoted are Olympus, Lotte, Nike, L'Oréal, Japanese cosmetic company Kosé, Skechers, Audio-Technica, GM Daewoo and L'Occitane. Five of her songs have been used as themes. "Every Heart: Minna no Kimochi" was used as the ending theme for the anime InuYasha; "Beside You: Boku o Yobu Koe" was used as the opening theme for the anime Monkey Typhoon; "Key of Heart" was the theme song for the Japanese release of Over the Hedge; "Your Color" was the theme song of the video game Ninety-Nine Nights; and "Mamoritai: White Wishes" was the theme song of the video game Tales of Graces. Her widespread popularity has also made her a "cultural ambassador"; she has represented South Korea in inter-Asian musical events and has appeared in an Oxford University Press-published English-language textbook.