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BoA’s “No. 1”: One Of My First Kpop Songs

Cover of BoA's "No. 1"

I am a day late with #SongLyricsSunday, but it still cool right? This week’s prompt is about numbers. Yesterday, as I enjoyed the warm weather outdoors, I kept on listening to songs by one of the Queens of Kpop, BoA.

Kpop has been extremely popular in the Western world, especially in the US, for a few years now. And that is all thanks to the boy band BTS. I think I am getting at that age where I can’t catch with all the boy bands and girl bands anymore because there are so many in the Kpop world. Maybe I should get cable once again and watch the Korean music countdown shows once more to find out “Who is Who” in Kpop.

For today’s post, I am going back the summer of 2002 when I first discovered Kpop with BoA. I have written about this Kpop diva before by featuring the songs “Moon & Sunrise” and “Who Are You”. But, for today, I want to write about a song from her second Korean album and my first Kpop album: No. 1.

(This is part of a #SongLyricsSunday challenge, which is hosted by Jim at An Unique Title For Me. Anyone can join! Details on how to participate are found at the end of this post!)

No. 1: A Korean Bubblegum Pop Album

Before we talk about the song, let’s talk about the album that it came from. “No. 1” is the first track of BoA’s 2002 album of the same name. I remember when I bought No. 1. It was in the summer of 2002 when I visited Koreatown.

I remember entering the department store that was selling Korean pop CDs. They had a ton of copies of No. 1 on the rack as it was the hottest album at the time. I begged my aunt to buy me one and she did. I loved that album for a long time because it was my first time listening to Korean music. When I listen to the album now as an adult, I get all nostalgic and think back to the summer of 2002.

I enjoyed “No. 1” as it was a great upbeat track to start off the album. But, my ultimate favorites from the album were “Day”, “Tragic” (it had the American bubblegum pop feel), “Azalea” (slow R&B), “Pain-Love” (upbeat R&B), and “Listen To My Heart”. Although the album might seem like it isn’t coherent as it features different genres, No. 1 features many superb songs from diverse genres like R&B, bubblegum pop, piano pop, and ballads. If you are Kpop fan or never heard of Kpop, I would highly recommend listening to No. 1 as it features BoA’s remarkably vocals as well as staple sounds in early 2000s Kpop.

The Copyright Controversy with BoA’s “No. 1”

The lyrics for “No.1” were written by Kim Young Ah. There was actually a lawsuit filed by Kim Young Ah over the song’s lyrics and credits. The female lyricist was asked by SM Entertainment, BoA’s record label, to write the song’s lyrics and was initially paid about $1,800 for her work. However, the song was not entered in the Korea Music Copyright Association at the time, thus Kim not receiving any credit or royalties.

Fast forward about a year after the album’s release when SM Entertainment signs a contract with Universal Music Korea for music copyright licensing. It is Universal Music Korea who registered the song into the Korea Music Copyright Association’s database. But instead of entering Kim as the lyricist, they entered the song’s composer (Sigurd Rosnes) as the lyricist.

In 2012, Kim Young Ah sued Universal Music Korea in order to be recognized as the true lyricist of “No.1”. In July 2015, the Korean Supreme Court decided in Kim’s favor. She was officially credited as the lyricist for the tune, thus forcing Universal Music Korea to pay her $40,000 in royalties.

I am glad that she won the court case and got the credit she deserved. But, it does open a can of worms as to why didn’t SM Entertainment, register the song in 2002. SM Entertainment is known for being a dodgy company for it’s neverending and exploitative contracts with artists and how the company treats the artists and staff.

What Do You Think?

BoA’s “No. 1” is a solid album starter as it is upbeat and features BoA’s powerful vocals. It is a perfect track to introduce the listener to who exactly BoA in terms of musicality and artistry. And also, what is in store for the listener with the rest of the album. “No. 1” isn’t my favorite track from the 2002 album, but I still enjoy listening to it from time to time to make my day more upbeat.

What do you think of the song? Do you like the song? Let me know in the comments below.

Since BoA is very popular in Japan, “No. 1” was translated in Japanese and released in Japan as a single in the fall of 2002. Here is the Japanese version:

Here is the English version, which was a bonus track on the Japanese pressing of the album:

If you want to participate, here are the rules:

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