Many people underestimate the actual meaning of things that they don’t understand. For instance, when a song is in a foreign language, some disregard the musicality of the actual art, and convey it as just a simple tune with instruments and gibberish.
Take for example, Korean pop music. Multiple Kpop groups are thriving with growing popularity all around the world; but as they gain more international attention, they also gain more doubts and speculations about the depth of their art. What some people don’t realize is that music, no matter where it is from or what language is in, almost always has a story. The story may not be super meaningful all the time, but it is a story nonetheless.
Four years since their debut, nine member group Twice (stylized as TWICE) is at the peak of their career. Known as ‘the nation’s girl group’, they have been gaining more and more international popularity as of late, even having main dancer Momo trending above the release of the iPhone 11 on social media. This year, they have been powering through an abundance of releases and promotional activities.
The group was formed in 2015 from the survival reality show ‘Sixteen’, through a series of hard training, evaluation, and elimination. Twice is composed of five Korean members: Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Jihyo, Dahyun, and Chaeyoung; three Japanese members: Momo, Sana, and Mina; and finally, one Taiwanese member: Tzuyu. With the initial differences in things such as language and culture, it would be understandable that certain group members lack a connection. However, that is not the case. The members have shown that they are whole as nine, despite their differences, because they are not complete when a member is missing. From their debut to today, they have grown closer as a family as each situation comes their way.
This group is the whole package. There is not one artistic aspect that they are lacking in. With powerful vocalists, mind-blowing dancers, stunning visuals, and phenomenal rappers, these girls have got it all. On top of that, all of them have their own unique personalities that they bring together to create the essence of their group, there is no dull moment in the lives of the Twice members. It’s safe to say that some of the best in the industry are in this group, so they definitely aren’t called ‘the nation’s girl group’ for nothing. Not only are they just naturally good, but they always work to improve their skills, showing how passionate they really are as performers and artists.
Less than a year into their debut, the group gained immense amounts of attention from the Korean public with their song ‘CHEER UP’, and then the wave started. Ever since then, their popularity has just been skyrocketing and projecting itself all around the world. As they grow, their music grows as well, and they are met with new milestones, opportunities, and also difficulties.
As a systematic industry, entertainment companies often disregard the humanity of their artists. Even though the public only sees the very surface of these people, the things that are shown to the outside world are guaranteed to be seen and talked about by a large population of people.
Just this summer, Twice had their first concerts in North America on the second leg of their tour, ‘TWICELIGHTS’. This was a big milestone for the group and another addition to their achievements this year. However, this year has not been easy on them. Despite the ever increasing success they are receiving, many issues regarding physical and mental health have hit the group hard. In early July, one of the main dancers and lead vocalists, Mina, went on hiatus due to struggle with anxiety. Following this, the group had to continue their promotions and tour as eight. Although Mina was physically absent from the group, the other members never made less of an effort to acknowledge her importance. In every show, they mentioned her and made space for her in all their performances. The members made sure that she was still a part of the group, despite everything.
In late September, the group released their eighth mini-album, ‘Feel Special’. This comeback signified the importance of their career, but more importantly, their relationship as a family. Throughout the years, Twice have faced many obstacles. They have been evidently overworked, especially recently. While doing so, received countless amounts of backlash following their growing popularity. It is true that all people as famous as them experience criticism and fatigue, but the important thing is whether they address it or not. At times, it can be hard to speak out on things like this because of the audiences watching them, but when they do, it can impact and influence that same audience for the good. Bringing awareness to issues such as these allow the people who look up to them feel comfortable and justified to themselves.
In the music video for the song, all the members are isolated in their own environment at the start. As the plot moves on, each of them find another member, and there is an evident sense of comfort and relief as they encounter each other. This symbolizes how despite feeling alone, there will always be someone around the corner for you. The video contains a purposeful storyline, and it really ties together the importance of the song well.
After the news about Mina’s condition, it was a pleasant surprise to see that she participated in the making of this comeback, including the music video. When the comeback was announced, fans were skeptical of her participation, since there had been scarce updates on her condition. However, she was able to gain strength from her members, which allowed her to participate, although she did not perform in the live stage performances.
The song ‘Feel Special’ takes on a lot of meanings. Most importantly, it is a symbol of the bond Twice has built within their group through their time together. It was written by their producer, Park Jinyoung, after hearing the group members discuss the struggles and pressures of the reputation they have to uphold. “This time, we are trying to show our real heart to the listeners as individuals,” vocalist Sana says in an interview with TIME magazine.
Rather than their typical bubbly love songs, Twice try to show a different side of themselves in this comeback, with both their artistry and image. It is with no doubt that they have developed a new sense of maturity and self-determination throughout the years; they have made this evident in the evolution of their music and the way they perform. In result of that, the group felt as if they needed to say something with their music, which is what lead vocalist and oldest member Nayeon means when she says in the same TIME interview that “[t]his title track has [their] stories.”
With lyrics such as “no matter how the world brings me down, even when hurtful words stab me, I smile again cuz you’re there”, and “you are indeed my shining light,” Twice sing these words with their own emotions and experiences, even more so than before. What they want to emphasize is the process of moving past the feelings of hopelessness and loneliness, and finding outlets, whether it be people, things, or places, where you can feel important (or as they say, special).
This song is also backed up with a choreography that is intricate and powerful. It is not a simple task to be synchronized with eight other people when dancing, especially when the choreography is always moving, but they somehow are able to do it. Watching them dance during stages is just mesmerizing, and it is especially incredible to see how their formations change what seems like every second. The amount of persistence and memorization that goes into a dance involving so much movement is unimaginable, yet they do it so flawlessly.
Along with the meaningful title track and energetic choreography, the other songs on the album contain importance as well. With every b-side track written by a member, there is a distinct emotion and significance that is even more so enhanced into the music. The members have had their share of songwriting in past releases, but this is the first time that every b-side track is written or co-written by a member. With the upbeat tracks ‘Rainbow’, ‘Get Loud’, ‘Trick It’, and ‘Love Foolish’, the uplifting essence of the album is really reflected through every song.
However, in every album there must be a soulful ballad or it just doesn’t seem complete. Of course, Twice have included a heartwarming slow song as the last official track of this album. What makes this track special is that every lyric is written by a member, and every member has inputted their message into this song. This song is intended as a letter to their fans (known as ‘Once’) and for all the support they have received throughout the years, which is why each member wrote the part they sing in the song.
Overall, it is clear that this album not only means a lot to the fans, but also to the group as well. They are surely on the way to putting more of their personal thoughts in their art, which makes everything even more significant.
Throughout their promotional activities for this album, the other eight members made immense efforts to make sure Mina was mentioned at any chance they could; so much that it was almost as if she was also there with them. It is safe to say that this played a big part in her return on stage, which happened four months after her hiatus.
In October, Mina returned from her hiatus with an appearance at their Halloween fanmeeting. Coincidentally, this fanmeeting occurred on their fourth anniversary, making the occasion even more incredible. In response to the surprising comeback, fans were ecstatic and cheered her on with genuine excitement and pride. “Because so many ONCE were cheering me up, and all the other members were close to me, holding my shoulders and hands, I was able to find the courage to talk to ONCE,” Mina mentions in an interview with Popcrave. Following the fanmeeting, Mina has been performing in the Japan leg of their tour. After being away from the stage for four months, she is recovering and now is at the point where she finally gets to do what she loves again. It is with the support of fans and her fellow members that she has the ability to continue performing.
Working almost none stop for years is in no way an easy task, especially if every single thing you do is being analyzed by thousands of people. Fortunately, Twice have an indescribable bond with each other that helps them get through the struggles of public attention and continuous hard work. This group built a family within the nine of them, which due to contrary belief, is not the case for every group out there. Spending basically every hour of every day with the exact same individuals can be a difficult thing to do; you learn all the good things and bad things about the people you’re around, which ends up showing them in a different light than before. It is hard to predict how that light will change a relationship, but fortunately for Twice, their closeness allows them to move through every hardship and vulnerability together. Even from a perspective that is very far outside, it is clear to see that they genuinely love each other, which is what makes them so deserving of all the admiration they receive today.