April 24, 2009 / 11:37 PM / 10 years ago

Asian pop star BoA takes on the U.S

LOS ANGELES/TOKYO (Billboard) - She’s been speaking English for only a year. But that isn’t stopping singer BoA from conversing in the universal language of music.

A superstar in Japan and her native South Korea, the 22-year-old is also a skillful dancer who has been singing professionally since she was 13. She is part of a current Asian musical exchange program whose emissaries include Utada, the Teriyaki Boyz, Se7en and Wonder Girls. With 12 No. 1 albums in Asia, BoA has sold 7.6 million copies, according to SoundScan Japan.

The SM Entertainment artist now brings her R&B- and dance-styled synth pop to the United States. Her self-titled, first English-language album arrived March 17. It debuted at No. 127 on the Billboard 200, selling 8,000 copies. The lead single, “I Did It for Love,” has sold 4,000 digital downloads. A previously released album track, “Eat You Up,” peaked at No. 8 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart and has sold 28,000 downloads.

“I just wanted to make fresh, hot dance music,” BoA says, adding that her collaborator wish list includes Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo and T-Pain.

BoA divides her time between Tokyo and Los Angeles. In the short time she’s been in the States, she has compiled a short list of favorite things: In-N-Out Burger, Coffee Bean and Dave & Buster’s — and has gotten used to explaining the origin of her name.

“People have asked me if it’s an acronym for ‘best of Asia,’” the diminutive singer says with a laugh. “Even for ‘Bank of America.’ No, it’s just a creative styling of my real name, which, loosely translated, means ‘sparkling jewel.’”

Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters

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