In the Korean music industry, some of the musicians, who start out as idols, go on to become the biggest stars with international fame. Young aspiring musicians train for years under agencies in hopes to make their formal debut and turning those dreams into reality. The same has been achieved by the popular female group, TWICE. The visually stunning group, with flawless vocals and performances, have been dominating charts in their home ground, and beyond; selling our arenas and domes in Asia and The United States of America, breaking their own records one album at a time. They are called the “nation’s girl group” for a reason.
The group of nine women— Jihyo, Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu — was formed via a reality survival show called Sixteen. They were the company’s first since launching Miss A in 2010. Debuted under JYP Entertainment in October 2015, the group was formed in order to capture the fans – called ONCE – “once through the ears, and once through the eyes.” Their debut single, the melancholy pop track ‘Like Ooh-Ahh’ from The Story Begins did mark their strong debut, but it was not until 2016 singles ‘Cheer Up’ and ‘TT’ which skyrocketed their fame to newer heights. ‘Cheer Up’ went on to become the anthem of the year with a diverse audience taking a keen interest in this particular Asian group and what they had in store. They won the award for Song of the Year at Mnet’s Asian Music Awards (MAMA) for ‘Cheer Up’. With their chart-topping singles – from groups to soloists to actors (Lee Dong Wook, Lee Joon Gi among others) have grooved to TWICE’s music. Since then, there has been no looking back for them. Their music resonates with diverse crowds and that's why their trademark poppy and shimmery pop sounds with bright music videos have left an impact.
There is still a reluctance to give the Asian female groups the same kind of platform as the groups in the West. This is because of the common perception that if the sound is not badass enough, they aren’t actually catering to the market. But that particular “rule book” is now changing slowly. In the past couple of years, western artists and acts have chosen to adapt to the peppy and bright sounds in their new era of music; which is something Asian female groups have been doing brilliantly and unabashedly for a while especially TWICE. While there’s aversion from the dazzling songs, their maturity and sensuality reflect in their recent releases and more importantly, it shows that they are not afraid to be experimental while not compromising with the core essence of their style. The nine members thrive on stage, give some of the most memorable performances and share lovable camaraderie and mutual respect for each other. So, what is it about TWICE that truly connects with the audience? The concept is pretty simple – it’s the love, joy, and positivity that is encapsulated in their music.
Earlier in March this year, TWICE hit 3.31 million sales in Japan, according to Oricon, becoming the best-selling K-pop female group in the country, surpassing the previous record held by KARA. With their last EP ‘Taste of Love’ which was accompanied by their track ‘Alcohol-Free’, the South Korean girl group ranked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, giving the female group their first-ever top 10 on the all-genre ranking. They scored their first No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales (this chart ranks based only on traditional album sales) chart with their tenth mini-album.
Beyond the bright and poppy image of South Korean juggernaut TWICE, there is a sense of nostalgia for their music. This is something you witness in their new song The Feels’. Though they've released English versions of their previous Korean tracks, this marks their first full English song. Set against the backdrop of prom, the nine members experience the tingles of gearing up for one of the most important parties of the year. The music video begins with them receiving an invitation to a prom, followed by them getting ready and dancing the night away at the party.
Let me know (Yeah, let me know) / 'Cause I'm boom-boom-boom / From head to toe and I (From head to toe).”
On the heels of their 6th anniversary, the music video closes with an invitation to their third full-length album in November 2021 followed by their fourth tour. This is a pretty interesting way to announce their upcoming work and everyone is invited.
TWICE did their first-ever India interview with Bollywood Hungama to talk about their first English song, what made release it during their anniversary month, working in the pandemic, the resurfacing of their song ‘What is Love’ on TikTok, and hopefully tour in India, someday.
Congratulations on your first English single ‘THE FEELS’. Following the success of ‘TASTE OF LOVE’, this single release has been quite anticipated. How are you feeling about it?
JIHYO: Thank you! We enjoyed being able to reunite with our fans after a short period of time since our last release with 'Taste of Love'. Because ‘The Feels’ is our first full English single, we are all very excited to see how people will react to it.
TZUYU: We were grateful to have this opportunity to release our first full English single and be able to reach a wider range of ONCE all over the world. I hope through ‘The Feels’ we’ll be able to meet new ONCEs (Fans)!
You dropped the music video for ‘THE FEELS’. It has promo party vibes to it. How was the theme of the song decided and did you guys have any inputs as to how you wanted to showcase this music video?
CHAEYOUNG: Because the concept of our music video is teen years, we brainstormed themes like parties and proms that came up in our minds when we thought of teens in the United States. The song also has a strong vibe of teenagers having a fun time with their friends, so we decided to showcase it using the theme of a prom.
MINA: Because prom is a culture that we have not experienced before, we were excited to try on this new concept and achieve our dream of attending a prom as a student. I hope ONCEs enjoy this fun and bubbly concept.
When did you begin working on ‘THE FEELS?’ What is the inspiration behind it?
NAYEON: We’ve been developing ‘The Feels’ thinking of how we can bring back the essential nature of TWICE’s bright energy. I kept on brainstorming ways to perform ‘The Feels’ in TWICE’s truthful nature so that the song can capture our one and only bright energy, nature, and gestures.
DAHYUN: Because we knew that there are ONCEs all around the world, I’ve always wanted to release a full English single. For this wonderful opportunity, we prepared with our best efforts and discussed a lot amongst our members to make the best result, so I hope ONCE will enjoy this music.
A complete English song. Was it fun to record it or did you face any challenges?
SANA: The recording process was both fun and difficult. Because we wanted to get our recordings perfect, we held online meetings with our team in the United States who coached us through the details of our pronunciations.
MOMO: Compared to our Korean or Japanese songs, the recording process was harder. However, I practiced hard day and night with our members to deliver the best result for our fans.
TWICE is known for vibrant and unique concepts – you spread joy amongst the fans through your music. Was this the intention to release ‘THE FEELS’ since we are still in the pandemic?
DAHYUN: The song itself is a bright song and since it matches the vibe of TWICE, we hoped that fans would be able to enjoy the much-needed bright energy in these tough times. We hope to overcome this situation together with ONCE and be able to meet face-to-face one day.
MOMO: Of course! We wanted to deliver the special brilliant charm of TWICE through this song. I hope this song gives the listeners strength to overcome any dark days with lighthearted, freestyle dance.
How much does TWICE prepare before a comeback? How much time is invested from recording to actually putting together the choreography?
SANA: For this single, specifically, we had a very short period of time compared to other albums to put everything together, from the recording process to the choreography practicing. Since we knew that we only had a limited amount of time, we put in extra effort to prepare for this comeback and amaze our fans.
CHAEYOUNG: The process of our comeback usually starts with recording the song. Once the song recording process is completed, we dive into the choreography practice. During the choreography practice, we become very serious to make every move on point. We try to move as one group by filming ourselves dancing and checking if the angles of our arms, legs, and movements match each other.
It’s been tough navigating through these tough times. How has the past year impacted you since you aren’t touring and also performing without the presence of an audience?
NAYEON: The presence of our fans in the audience means a lot to us. The energy onstage heightens a lot when we know we have ONCE in the audience, cheering us on. I keep on wishing for the situation to get better soon so that we can make eye contact with ONCE in the audience when we perform.
TZUYU: When we first performed through online concerts, the whole experience was so new and the set was so magical, allowing us to visibly watch ONCE’s facial expressions. We loved how we could connect safely with our fans. However, we are still waiting for the day when we can be together with our fans in the same physical space. I hope that day will come soon.
I saw your recent Japanese comeback ‘Perfect World’ and wondered if there could be a fierce and strong vibe song in Korean comeback as well. Could that be a possibility someday?
JIHYO: If we have the opportunity to do so, we would like to try as many different genres as possible. We tried on new concepts last year with ‘I Can’t Stop Me’ and ‘Cry For Me’ and thankfully, ONCE enjoyed discovering the new sides of TWICE. Therefore, if the right time and song come along, we would like to keep on trying different genres and concepts moving forward with our journey as TWICE.
MINA: Even though we tried on various concepts for the Korean comebacks, we believe that there are concepts yet to be discovered and explored by TWICE. The strong concept like in ‘Perfect World’ is one of the many charms of TWICE, so if we come across the right song, I hope we can release performance-heavy songs in Korea as well.
Interestingly, your song ‘WHAT IS LOVE’ went viral on TikTok, and all members recreated the music video moments. How did you find out your 2018 track was going viral in 2021?
SANA: Because ‘What is Love?’ is a song that I like and that a lot of members chose as their favorite music video, I felt grateful that the song was able to resurface after so many years. It was wonderful to know that people still listen to ‘What is Love?’
MINA: It was very surprising to know that our song could go viral once again through social media. Listening to our past song brought back so many memories from that time when we first released it. I think there are people who became aware of TWICE through ‘What is Love?’ going viral once again, so our members are all very thankful.
TWICE brings so much joy to millions of fans around the world. But, what brings TWICE joy?
CHAEYOUNG: Of course it always feels great when we have a top song on the charts, but I feel the most joyful and satisfied when ONCE relates to and loves the songs that we’ve put in so much effort to. I really enjoy that sense of achievement.
TZUYU: I’d say ONCE! Even though the process of putting together an album could be challenging from time to time, the happiness on ONCEs face and their bright smile brings me joy and propels me to keep on moving forward. They are my energizer.
Following the release of ‘THE FEELS’, TWICE will celebrate the group's 6th anniversary. You are one of the most celebrated artists. After spending a lot of time as a trainee followed by participating in a reality show and then finally making that grand debut, what is that one or few memories that you cherish the most in past 6 years?
NAYEON: Whenever I get this question, different memories always pop up in my mind. I guess that means that there are countless moments when I felt celebrated during the last 6 years. Now, instead of looking back, I often look forward, especially to the day when I get to meet ONCE face-to-face. I have this feeling that day is not too far away now.
Do you still feel the immense pressure before a comeback? Or the excitement takes over most of those feels?
JIHYO: I guess excitement takes over pressure now. We still don’t know what new challenges await us in the future, but that uncertainty makes me feel excited since it could open up a new opportunity for TWICE.
MOMO: For ‘The Feels’, I felt more pressure compared to other albums, since it’s our first time trying a full English single. I’m not sure how people will react to our new attempt, but I know that ONCE will always have our back so I feel very supported.
What do TWICE members like to do during their downtime?
NAYEON: Because the weather here is perfect during this time of the year, I try to go out as much as possible. However, because of the situation, I try to be safe by taking occasional walks or biking. When I’m staying safely at home, I binge watch movies or TV series that I’ve always wanted to watch.
INDIA has waited TWICE for the longest time to bring their tour. When the situation becomes better, would that be possible someday? Can you share a message with ONCEs who always supported you?
SANA: Before COVID-19, I remember members talking amongst ourselves wanting to go to India and meet our fans there. We hope that the situation gets better soon so that we can meet ONCE in India and all around the world safely once again.
DAHYUN: We always know that ONCEs are cheering us, even though we cannot meet them physically during this time. We feel tremendously supported even just realizing this. Whenever we feel down or are going through tough times, we always think about ONCE. All members of TWICE miss each and every ONCE. Please stay healthy and happy so we can meet each other soon!
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