Review: Signal by Twice

Signal by TwiceWell, here we are again, undertaking the foolish duty of reviewing a Twice mini – that creature that, no matter what you say about it, will be successful anyway. Not that this review ever wanted to take down one of the biggest K-pop groups today. However, the template has been so predictable you wonder why we even bother to do this: a mediocre release (“Cheer Up” is catchy but nothing beats “Like Ooh-Ahh”; everything else was gently downhill) followed by months of dominating every bit of Korean entertainment one consumes. Signal does attempt to move things along: it finally sees the group’s big boss Park Jin-young produce a song for them, and also sees contributions from former Wonder Girl Yenny, as well as Jihyo and Chaeyoung writing “Eye Eye Eyes”. I hear some reggae, and the title track bring the relatively cutesy girls to the world of trap, awkwardly. (It’s terrible because it jars completely with everything the group hasn done before.) But then, Signal is exactly what you expect it to be: it’s a Twice album. It’s forgettable, but it’s completely irrelevant to its success. It’s the default reaction. It’s getting really boring. When I reviewed their last mini Twicecoaster: Lane 1 I argued that they’re hitting diminishing returns. I stand by it. [NB]2/5

“쉽게 열리지는 않을 거야.”

“Knock Knock” by Twice | Twice is the K-pop group you begrudgingly accept. No matter how mediocre their songs are – I’m still of the opinion that “Like Ooh-Ahh” is their best – you have to accept that they will dominate the charts, stay on the top for weeks, defying usual chart behavior, where songs gently (or suddenly) go down after hitting their peak position for a week or two. At least “Knock Knock” isn’t as annoying as “TT”, but you just know you’ve heard better, even from the group themselves. And yet their success is so undeniable that other girl groups have decided to transition their images to Twice’s bright, preppy one. gugudan’s “A Girl Like Me” has similar imagery, but more noteworthy is Lovelyz’s “WoW!” – they have done relatively powerful yet mostly innocent songs to this point, but now they’ve sort of haphazardly put Twice’s clubbiness over their landmark song “Destiny”. Shalla’s gone so far as describing it as their “Marionette” moment. It’s awkward to see them attempt to turn their bodies into props like Twice do so well, but at least they have much better vocalists. But, perhaps, the one act Twice has banished into limbo is Red Velvet. Don’t get me started… [NB]

Review: Twicecoaster: Lane 1 by Twice

Twicecoaster: Lane 1 by TwiceDo we really need another Twice mini-album? Yes, I’m not one of the millions of Once out there, and I have been skeptical of their work before, but think of it this way: “Cheer Up” is still dominating the K-pop landscape six months after it was released, to the point that it’s crossed the thresholds from “cute little song” to “icon” to “I’m tired of this”. I don’t know. A part of me thinks we all really need a rest from Twice, and Twicecoaster: Lane 1, their third mini-album in one year and one week, just proves the point. Sure, they can’t afford to change the formula, not with this big a following, but at least their last two releases had some standout moments – the solid 90s throwback “Going Crazy” on The Story Begins; their remake of Park Ji-yoon’s iconic “Precious Love” on Page Two – but here they’re just grinding down what’s left of the preppy, 8-bit musical aesthetic. Even their single, the awkward-sounding-for-Filipinos “TT”, feels all over the place despite being written by the same people behind their first two (smash) singles. (Okay, there’s “Next Page”, but it feels like an oasis after the five tracks that preceded it.) All I’m saying is, we need a break from Twice – and Twice needs a break from all this. For their own good. Their following may be big, but they’re hitting diminishing returns this early. [NB]3/5

“여자가 쉽게 맘을 주면 안돼.”

“Cheer Up” by Twice | This song’s been out for almost three weeks now, and I’ve been having a think – and not just because of the way they actually sing the words “cheer up”. (Churro? Shut up?) This is Twice’s second single – they made quite a wave with their first, “Like Ooh-Ahh” – and, well… I know they’re squarely targeted at the teen market, but still… something seems half-baked. It’s bright enough, but something seems to be missing. Maybe I need to retroactively appreciate them like I did with GFriend. Yes, the last thing I wrote about them is a bit outdated now; Shalla and I have somewhat transformed into some half-arsed Buddy because of Yerin. (And an appreciation of Umji being a coy maknae, unlike most others. I mean, this.) Maybe I need to get involved with the personalities of Twice. Maybe I need to watch more of their things. Right now I only really remember Tzuyu (pronounced as something like “chewy”), the forever prim-and-proper (yet somehow controversial) maknae. And maybe Dahyun too, because she seems cool. The rest, I can’t say much. Like, their songs are all right, but they manage to be both catchy and forgettable at the same time. Maybe it’s the fact that they all sing the same way, all nine of them. Maybe it’s JYP Entertainment’s thing with auditioning trainees that look good, too. I really don’t know. Maybe I need a third single. [NB]