01. Lady Galaxy
02. Nanairo no Ashita ~brand new beat~
03. Winter Love
05. SO REAL
06. KEY OF HEART
07. OUR LOVE ~to my parents~
08. no more make me sick
09. Revolution-code 1986-1105 Feat.RAH-D
10. Your Color
12. Candle Lights
13. Gracious Days
14. LAST CHRISTMAS
15. Winter Love (Live ver.)
“MADE IN TWENTY (20)” topped the Oricon charts when it was released on January 17, 2007, and the album went on to sell 348,093 copies in total.
The album starts out with “Lady Galaxy” which is a futuristic R&B track with edited background vocals that sound like they’ve been computer processed. It’s a fairly strong start to the album, although it sounds a bit repetitive and familiar at points. The bridge of the song sounds exactly like it was cut from My Humps and converted to fit this song. Regardless, this is most likely a strong dance track with some catchy portions (she says I love you in 5-6 languages, listen for Te Amo, Aishiteru, I love you…). The chorus of Lady Galaxy is also pretty catchy. However, the parts where she’s talking like it’s an airliner sounds like M-flo… Basically, this song has been done before in so many ways, which sadly foreshadowing the rest of the album. There is a difference from borrowing and recreating the magic which BoA fails to really see. However, if you’re new to this music, “Lady Galaxy” is A-grade.
The transition to “Nanairo no Ashita ~brand new beat~” isn’t terrible, although it is quite a jump; the notable similarity between the two is the background instrumentation. “Nanairo no Ashita ~brand new beat~” has a softer version of “Lady Galaxy”’s instrumentals. And that described Brand New Beat very well. It’s a strong pop track, but it’s very “watered down.” Fans have even labeled the song “Bland New Beat.” The crescendo cannot save this song from mediocrity. It certainly has a good climax, but it’s just that, good, not great. The ending isn’t anything special, either. At least the chorus is pretty catchy with the whole “Brand New Beat” thing, but that isn’t enough to make a great pop song.
And so we smoothly move into the next track after a decent ending, beginning the ballad, “Winter Love.” The same sort of problem that plagued Brand New Beat severely hurts Winter Love, that boring factor. What makes “Winter Love” better than the pack of winter ballads that was released in 2007? At least BoA’s voice is pretty darn strong, which really shines in this song, although not as much as it does in her Korean tracks. Listening to her Korean ballads then this one just puts Winter Love to shame, even the ending. “Winter Love” sounds nice, but it isn’t anything more, especially considering some of BoA’s stronger ballads. It’s there and it sounds nice. “Winter Love” does have some emotion, as well. The mixture of BoA’s voice and the string and synth instrumentation is nice, especially with the powerful drum beat.
And the soft ending leads us into the next track, “STILL.”, a piano based track with very present dance synth. It’s not the strongest out of her album tracks, and it’s just there. “Winter Love” feels like it has more style than this song, which is a bit of problem; the song just feels like it’s been done before. It’s pleasant, but just that. The tune ends up sounding too familiar. Another problem with the song is that the ending does not sound much different from the beginning; it finishes where it began which should not be happening, a song needs to grow to captivate the listener.
The transition to “SO REAL” is probably the most strained yet: although the tempo is similar, the two tracks are at opposite ends of the dance spectrum. The choruses are pretty strong and BoA’s voice sounds very good in this mature environment. However, when reaching the end of the track, that climax that you’re expecting to arrive never comes. What’s more, the beginning and the end could be run together…they sound the same. The song begs BoA’s vocals to emerge further, but there is no such luck. Just another album track in the mix in this new style of BoA’s. At least she’s growing up, and the choruses are strong.
“Key of Heart” does not sound at all like the last track creating a noticeable flow issue. “Key of Heart” is another pop song backed by violins, a beat and keyboards. It sounds like BoA pop in the end, with a nice hook: “just a key of heart.” One of the big problems with the song, however, is the lack of sufficient background vocals in the chorus. Those vocals are there in the Korean counterpart of the song powering BoA’s vocal and greatly improving the song’s sound. Here, this version sounds empty and BoA’s vocals don’t fill the track’s atmosphere well. “Key of Heart” does one up “Brand New Beat” by sounding poppier and less bland with an impressive hook, but it isn’t enough. The song is missing what it has in Korean, which just makes it above average.
More piano…does not flow well from “Key of Heart.” “OUR LOVE ~to my parents~” starts out very slowly, with BoA singing quite softly, something we haven’t heard her do yet (Winter Love was a power ballad). BoA deserves props for doing something different from the rest of the tracks, but the downside to this variety is her head voice is not that strong. However, BoA does particularly well singing the English parts of the song. The crescendo and the end are much stronger than the beginning of the song, as well, with the background music showing the difference. That’s the type of music BoA should be creating; the only real downside is the feeling that vocals are flawed at points. There are some strong beats in this song, as well as a few eighties like moments, but over all, a stronger album track.
The album transitions well into the next dancier/poppier slow track, “no more make me sick.” The chorus does fix the fact that this song sounds like it could be done a little better by someone else, although that relies on synth elements to make it sound strong. The background vocals of the chorus separate it from the rest of the song. However, once more, the climax does nothing, leaving the end right where the beginning left off. Just average.
We get dancier with whistles, heavy beats, and a rap in the next track as we head to class with “Revolution-code 1986-1105 Feat.RAH-D.” That’s all nice and good, but what’s wrong with the song? It has that hip-pop feeling, but besides rapping, doesn’t do well at emphasizing that energy. The song is notable for being dancier than Lady Galaxy, but it’s still boring. As a dance song, that’s a glaring flaw.
“Your Color” simply does not transition from the last track in any beat, tempo, instrument, vocal… “Revolution Code” does not fit with “Your Color,” at all. With that bad transition behind us, “Your Color,” like most of BoA’s songs, has a very strong chorus that fits in well with the instrumentation. Problems? “Winter Love” is done better and both utilize the same vocal technique (their choruses are quite similar, vocally, in the fact that they emphasize power). “Your Color” has different background music than Winter Love, but that doesn’t do much to separate it from “Winter Love.” “Winter Love”’s vocals are stronger, bigger, and altogether more epic. That just makes “Your Color” feel very average, even though it’s a strong song on its own. The difference in the choruses would be how high BoA goes in “Winter Love,” otherwise, they sound quite alike.
“Prayer” is another forced transition, but it makes up for it by being a strong dance track with a strong chorus. Seeing a pattern in these album tracks yet? What’s special about “Prayer?” “Prayer” is darker than the other dance album tracks we’ve seen, although once again, the ending is almost exactly the same as the beginning. The english in this song is pretty good too.
“Candle Lights” does not transition well from “Prayer,” and is not the best track on its own. But for a B-side, it’s pretty good (”Candle Lights” was the B-side for the “Winter Love” single). The guitar is decent, but this track feels similar to “Your Color” and “Winter Love.” The guitar does help differentiate the song from the pack a bit, but BoA’s vocals exacerbate the problem. The choruses are very strong and consistent, but the song experiences no growth.
The changeover to “Gracious Days” is fine, and “Gracious Days” does sound different from the Candle Light/Your Color/Winter Love triade, which is a good thing. “Gracious Days” provides a breathe of fresh air that the listener needs as they near the end of the album. So close to the end, it was an honest surprise to see a good album track marking the end. I think the choruses towards the end are a bit stronger, although it’s nothing big. At least she continues her strength in the choruses of her songs. A fitting end for the albums without CD bonuses.
The live version of “Winter Love” is pretty good, although “Last Christmas” still sounds tinny and futuristic, which is different from anything else on this album.
Over all, this album is extremely average. The good news is that BoA is clearly maturing on her album tracks, looking to moving away from the pure pop she showered on us throughout 2006. However, these new dance R&B tracks suffer from the same plight that her 2006 single tracks suffered from: they sound bland, which is a problem in dance R&B. Add in the fact that some of them sound like popular songs in the recent past, and you have a glaring problem. BoA’s vocals and her great choruses provide some solace, but this album leaves BoA’s career in question. Sure, her music has transformed into something different, but it’s nothing spectacular. Where’s the growth in ability that we should be seeing? Her Korean release with anyband showed growth, but her Japanese releases felt like more of the same mediocrity. This album is very, very average. It’s not bad, nor is it great. If you’re a BoA fan, you should like the new tracks, even though this review has been harsh.