After 12 years in the K-pop game, BoA’s still got it. Her new single, “Disturbance,” has been shooting up the music charts since its release at the beginning of the week. It’s already hit No. 1 on Bugs and Soribada, and has so far peaked at No. 2 on the Instiz iChart, which combines the overall sales of all of Korea’s various digital charts into one convenient ranking. The only thing blocking it from the top spot so far is LeeSsang’s “Tears,” which was to be expected considering the indie hip-hop duo’s considerable power in both physical and digital sales.
Despite just being a one-off single to tie-in with her current Korean concert tour, “Disturbance” looks set to become a solid-sized hit. The song’s current sales are impressive for a few reasons: the main one being that BoA’s under SM Entertainment, and outside of Girls’ Generation, SM artists are notoriously weak performers on the digital charts. The label’s strength is in physical album sales, but lately we’ve seen BoA heading in the opposite direction. Last year’s “Only One” was the 33rd biggest song of 2012, while sales for her album of the same name were quite poor overall. It’s a big change from her previous comeback album, Hurricane Venus, which was the highest-selling solo album of 2010, yet bombed on the singles chart with its title track and follow up, “Copy & Paste.”
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s caused the shift in BoA’s sales, but it could have to do with an overall decline in popularity following more than a decade in the business, combined with a change of music style. Both “Hurricane Venus” and “Copy & Paste” were fairly stock-standard electro-pop records geared towards teenagers, whereas the midtempo balladry of “Only One” and “Disturbance” can reel in a much wider range of listeners, from youngins to twenty-somethings and beyond.
Overall, BoA’s in a stronger position today than she was two years ago. Now that she’s pursuing TV projects and working regularly in Korea again, she’ll be more recognizable and relevant to the general public if her songs are topping the charts and being played on radio, rather than simply having high album sales because SM stans are doing their usual bulk buying.