Twice’s ‘Feel Special’ brings more mature sound

Photo courtesy of JYP

Korean pop phenomenon Twice is widely known as the nation’s girl group for their charming, girly concepts, with some worldwide hits including “TT,” “Cheer Up,” “Fancy” and more, but the “cute” title that they bear doesn’t diminish these nine girls to hair bounces and pleated skirts.

The name Twice itself represents the desire to touch people’s hearts twice: once with the eyes and once with the ears. The members have always taken this goal seriously, aiming not only to capture an international audience’s heart, but also to inspire girls of all ages and instill happiness and connection with their fans.

The group’s newest album, however, directs those characteristic feel good vibes not only towards their listeners worldwide but also toward each other. With a title like “Feel Special,” it should come as no surprise that the album’s high spirited vibes exude contagiously from start to finish. Each song offers lively melodies and bright chords true to the group’s traditionally charming sound while simultaneously exhibiting experimentation with more artistic creativity and diversity, creating a slightly more mature vibe than that of most of Twice’s previous releases.

Fans should not be fooled, though, by those bright sounds and catchy beats. While the album does sing promises of everything from friendship to true love to empowerment, the album’s themes parallel that of its sound: true to Twice’s defining spunky lyricism with a slight leaning towards more mature themes.

Sprinkled with self-produced tracks, the album has some run-ins with mature topics such as a love confused with hate in the track Love Foolish, and even titular Feel Special has some darker motifs masked by an overall upbeat tone. The song is not, as one may assume based on the tune alone, about a girl who feels special because of some man’s presence; rather, it follows the journey of a girl feeling helpless and torn down by a cruel society. Unsurprisingly, though, the song does not end on such a pessimistic note. The song’s true meaning lies within the nine girls’ abilities to pick each other up when everything else has them down, as well as the coinciding desire to make their fans “feel special” and vice versa.

Yes, the wholesome turnaround of the lyrics reflects the optimistic bliss that Twice portrays in Korea and around the world, but the song’s deeper core message of uplifting friendship in the face of extreme adversity is a sign of thematic maturation, and that theme itself is certainly not something to be ignored.

Alongside their label, JYP Entertainment, the group exhibits the pathway for one of the smoothest concept transitions to date, maintaining the cute yet elegant hybrid that defines the girls’ classic image while also approaching something more mature and chic.

With a lavishly aesthetisized music video and performances ripe with flowy silk and classy sequins to match, there is no doubt that there are signs of serious change on the horizon for the girl group icons, but the group and company are still careful to reassure fans who are happy with the group’s traditional image. The group constantly reminds fans of their commitment to upholding their long-standing title as the nation’s girl group. It is no surprise, then, that this good girls gone classy album has already soared to the top of Korean charts and snuck its way onto many an international ranking as well.

A warm hearted message with cheerful beats to match, dazzling visuals, and refreshing but classic styling makes the comeback a near perfect fit for everyone from the wildest of K-Pop fans to the most clueless of neophytes.

Such a perfect balance of artist creativity and genre loyalty proves maturity on the part of these nine girls, whose names will only ring louder and louder with every coming release. Already well over 70 million views, the “Feel Special” video has proven to be one of the most popular releases from the group to date, and fans should look to it for some inspiration this midterm season.

Still, fans should go beyond simply adding “Feel Special” to their playlist and listen to the full album for a real hint at what these nine girls are all about. Potential listeners be warned, however: anybody who’s listened to the new release is bound to have at least a few Twice melodies stuck in their head for weeks.