At this point, it’s almost pointless to review a Twice single. No matter the quality, the group’s insane popularity will ensure that it’s immediately lodged at the top of the charts and played into oblivion. Even if you don’t love the track on first listen, it’ll eventually wear you down through sheer ubiquity. And though their past few singles haven’t quite spawned the meme-worthy fervor of hits like Cheer Up and TT, the girls are clearly operating at the height of their imperial phase.
What Is Love opens with the now familiar synth-assisted pop stomp and layered shout that has become synonymous with Twice. It goes on to follow the template set by almost all of their previous singles, but with a cleaner, more streamlined structure. Gone are the unpredictable, pop-up hooks of a Black Eyed Pilseung production, replaced by agency-head Park Jinyoung’s more classic approach. This is a double-edged sword. Love lands as one of Twice’s least contentious, pleasantly innocuous pop tracks, but feels somewhat inconsequential when stacked against their biggest hits.
Twice has always worked best when they push back on k-pop’s more generic leanings, puncturing familiar melodies with inventive asides and memorable one-liners. A song as straightforward as What Is Love only reveals their shortcomings. Its chorus is certainly catchy, but nothing we haven’t heard from other like-minded groups. It’s a pleasure to hear the girls tone down their kewpie-doll performance style for the song’s chugging, melodic verses, and that shimmering call-and-response chorus works well enough. However, the song remains remarkably flat throughout its running time, lacking the kind of playful peaks we’ve come to expect from Twice. With their level of success, they can definitely afford to coast. But wouldn’t it be all the more exciting if they were to leverage the immense pop culture capital they’ve earned to go even weirder and bigger and more idiosyncratic?
It was nice to hear the girls sing more naturally, but I feel like that was ruined since it wound up only serving to a highlight the childish “I want to know” and “what is love” chants in the chorus. They’ve used these juvenile kind of sound clips before, most noticeably during the probably-trademarked-by-now “Twice!” shout, but it’s never been put on display before quite like it is in this song. For me, it takes the song from innocuous bubblegum pop and puts it into “Is this a Kidz Bop cover?” territory.
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For me its fine, better than heartshaker, not as weird or original as Signal and doesn’t quite soar like Knock Knock’s instrumental does.
I definitely prefer the BEP produced songs but I do enjoy that the structure breaks up at the end with the minimalist chorus with the main vocalists and into a little dance break again.
This “dance like twice” thing they’re doing is marketing genius, every song has a catchy easy chorus that most people can mimic and it just makes it so hard to deny just dancing along.
I’m with you that its more interesting when they push boundaries and they totally have the capacity to, this has a similar beat and video to Cheer up but kinda scaled back to more pop.
Bring back Black Eyed Pilseung
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