1. a constrictor snake with the ability to camouflage, depending on the environment.

After what feels like years since her last dance hit, BoA is back to reassert her place on the throne as she transforms into a futuristic cyborg with her new song “Camo”.  Produced by the American duo The Underdogs (Damon Thomas & Harvey Mason Jr., the brains behind everything from Beyoncé‘s “Listen” to Girls’ Generation‘s “Mr.Mr.”), the synth- heavy electro-pop song hits all the right notes across the board, from vocals to dancing to visuals.

The song starts with just her unique voice and the simple, smooth electronic beat, thus making the gradual build-up so much more powerful. The pre-chorus  flows into the chorus seamlessly, and the verses and hook all mesh together effortlessly. However thanks to the instrumental bells and whistles, it does not fall into the category of being generic in its composition. For a lot of recent releases, song structures have had each section (from the verses to the chorus to the rap), sound radically different from each other in an effort to be purposefully disjointed but failing in the attempt.

In contrast, “Camo” has a razor-sharp focus and by having this, the song feels natural by comparison. It lets the sound speak and grow on the listener rather than forcefully interrupting it with jarring thematic shifts or random beat drops or changes in performance a la rapping or belting. Every part of the song blends perfectly with each other and BoA herself contributes to that, as she doesn’t attempt vocal gymnastics and the track is better off for it in the end.

What BoA doesn’t attempt vocally, she exemplifies physically through the choreography of the song. “Camo” shows how it should be done when an idol can sing and dance at the same time. The MV isn’t laden with many flashy complicated moves but showcases how to hit the beat with strength and precise timing with the few moves you have. By keeping the balance with her vocals, she matches the song beat for beat as she transitions from one dance move to the next.  Even though she is surrounded by her backup dancers, she never lets them out dance her. She commands the viewers attention with a powerful presence, in motion and in stillness.

Arguably, the visuals of the MV were even more impressive than the song with the sleek production quality as it was the perfect complement to the vibe of the track. The concept of naming the song “Camo” as in ‘camouflage’ and then having BoA match in with all these colors and patterns like her namesake was the ideal accompaniment to the surrealist sci-fi themed music video.  Throughout the video, BoA’s face is always under some sort of camouflage, whether it’s red paint, geometric fractals or hologram. Several times, the dresses she wears is a further extension of the camouflage on her face and looks akin to shed snake skin.

The video blends elements of nature with technology that is reminiscent of Ghost In The Shell and Janet Jackson‘s “Feedback”. In the beginning, there are lines of code that crawl in front of the futuristic circular throne she sits on. Within the nature shots, one can see the places BoA touches becomes imbued with electrical energy which is connected to a giant computer-like interface. Keeping with the duality, we see her hand take on a chromatic skin as she discovers more and more of the cyber dimension she inhabits. During the chorus you can hear like control button sounds, much like those in a sci-fi film and it becomes more amplified as the chorus repeats itself.

For the grand finale, BoA’s face shows cracks in her camouflage – she stands in this hybrid world as she embraces a burst of colour and disappears from her circular red throne. This can be tied into the following lyrics as well :

The thick colors of the camouflage
Cover up the new world that’ll surprise me

All throughout the video, BoA gets a hint of a new world underneath the surface of the one she inhabits. In her red dimension, there is no hint of the natural world there although she can sense something. Gradually she makes the connection, sheds off her camouflage and embraces the vibrant colours the new world has to offer.

“Camo” reminds us how BoA has rightfully earned her moniker as the Queen of K-pop. The song is a return to the fierce multi-talented powerhouse who exemplifies what a solo performer should be. The MV focuses on the performance and the song is clean and catchy with a retro feel and a laid-back beat that is still interesting. Combined with a unique concept and powerful visuals that deliver the theme, “Camo” makes for  a phenomenal release.

MV Rating  : 5/5

(Images via SM Entertainment, Lyrics via ColorCoded, YouTube)