Song Review: Twice – Moonlight Sunrise

Twice - Moonlight SunriseTwice made a convincing English-language debut with 2021’s The Feels. While the language of their lyrics may have changed, the song retained the core elements of the group’s appeal. If an idol group plans to localize for foreign markets, this seems like the way to do it. Sixteen months later and Twice have returned with their second original English-language single – the mind-twistingly-titled Moonlight Sunrise.

This song also pulls elements from Twice’s oeuvre, but I’m not sure they’re the right ones in the right places. To put it simply, Moonlight Sunrise sounds like TT with all the good stuff omitted. I mean, imagine TT’s languid opening verse stretched throughout an entire song, lacking the payoff of its great pre-chorus and chorus. Fitful tension without resolution can work in some instances, but it’s a tricky approach. In this case, I’m craving a much stronger centerpiece. Up until the chorus, the song’s build has great potential. You can almost taste the captivating, city pop-inspired hook that might have been.

Instead, Moonlight Sunlight crawls to a stop with a monotonous repetition of its title. Coupled with its dull instrumental, there’s not much to draw your attention. The girls sound great, and that appeal injects the verses with satisfying energy. But taken as a whole, the song feels way too murky. A momentum-killing second verse only exacerbates this issue. Twice have been on a roll lately, so I’m assuming Moonlight Sunrise’s “pre-release” status means they’re saving the best material for later. I hope so, because this is a surprisingly middle-of-the-road return.

Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8

Grade: C

41 thoughts on “Song Review: Twice – Moonlight Sunrise

  1. After listening to it, I can really understand the TT verse comparison; they have very similar…moods? But yeah, this song doesn’t have the hook-y prechorus or chorus going for it, and the repeated “Moonlight sunlight” “I guarantee I gotcha” parts aren’t exactly catchy :/ Hoping the next release(s?) will be much better!


    • Wow well hater be like that… this song is gonna do amazing. I would love to be there when you eat crow… The girls did an incredible job, once again!!! No denying that!!


  2. 7.5 really? At least a 9 for me, which I didn’t expect from the teasers. It’s a super slick ethereal dancepop/R&B song with underlying groovy and mysterious synths. Based on the teasers, I was worried that Moonlight Sunrise was too repetitive, but that doesn’t bother me at all in the final product. I also love the mid-tempo beat. The pacing is executed just beautifully. I don’t know how they do it but TWICE keeps reinventing themselves while staying true to themselves. Ah well, everybody has their own taste and that’s just fine of course 🙂

    I do get your craving for a city-pop hook, would have been great, but they just didn’t want to go that way with things song (after Scientist, Celebrate and Talk That Talk). TWICE has a diverse discography so it’s only natural for them to want to mix things up. I hope this gets more love than Talk That Talk at least 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I mostly agree with you- the chorus could definitely be stronger! The second verse is actually my favourite because Chaeyoung’s rap followed by Momo is one of my favourite vocal combinations in Twice. It’s a welcome surprise to not solely hear 3mix on the chorus, though I can’t help but wonder if the song would’ve had more heft to it if they had sung more of the chorus.

    I think after how good The Feels was, I naturally feel a bit let down. But for a bside this is pretty solid, they all sound amazing, and I’m hoping the upcoming title will smash it out of the park.


  4. This song reminds me a lot of Feel Special’s chorus (especially the outro). Sounds are very similar. I would guess they wrote this song based on that part.
    Chorus is plain. Honestly I don’t appreciate the repetition: it sounded more excessive than rich.
    Sounds are surprisingly limited as a Twice song. Limited types of sound packs are used, which is uncommon for Twice’s choreography. I guess they worked more on chord progressions to give more twists to the song.
    The song is a likely to be a popular b-side that fans question why this isn’t the title. It sounds very chart-friendly because it uses traditional GG chords & structures-yet, its the year 23, and honestly I expected a little bit more.

    (Personal Preference: I loved the song coz I’m a sucker of these sounds.)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I thought it wasn’t hitting when I first listened to it, but I think I started to appreciate the song’s approach on the second listen. It will likely get better over time. I would like to disgress that it isn’t catchy, I think it is the kind of cathiness that doesn’t seem catchy at first but finds its way into winning you over later. Anyway, I understand where the review came from because if I had commented right after the first listen, I would have whole heartedly agreed, but now, not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The song construction is basic kpop, which makes it very un-Twice like. Agree with M~ above about how the sound pack palate is very limited.

    Rating feels about right.

    What places it about there is the mediocre vocal. The chorus hovers mostly on the same note, A# for the words “Moonlight, Sunrise”. That might be fine if the vocal was more charismatic and leaned into it more, but instead I just hear a honking nasal repeated note that isn’t very sonorous.

    Also, the lyrics are basic minus and not very authentic to the group. “Moonlight, sunrise, baby lets do it all night , I guarantee I gotcha”… ? what does that even mean, really, for an ultraprotected girly girl group who don’t have a sexy persona. What are they trying to sell here?


    • wdym by “ultraprotected girly girl group who don’t have a sexy persona”? They passed that concept already. They’ve done sexy/mature concepts and pulled it off well, lyrics that are a little bit more explicit than their normal shouldn’t even be a surprise.


      • For Twice, viewed through the lens of their songs from the debut era, this can be considered their sexy and mature era. During the “Cheer Up” and “TT” era they were teens and looked and acted like it.

        Viewed through the lens of a western pop song (since it is in English that is what it is), their image doesn’t match with a western standard of mature and sexy. “Sexy” for kpop is still clean-cut for the censor standards on the music shows. This Twice song is rather feminine and wholesome in dress, content, choreo, even facial expressions. I feel like having a cup of cocoa or something “alcohol-free” after this songs. Just before their minders show up to shush you away.

        But even within the kpop lens, it isn’t quite the same maturity as, say, BEG “Abracadabra” who were also in their 20’s when that song came. Or 4Minute “Crazy”, or old school Mamamoo, or Rainbow and a dozen other groups like them.

        Another example: the Go-Go’s who were also in their twenties when the song below was released. Seem like girls-next-door. Listen closer, the naughty girls next door. The song is actually rather naughty. Lean more in, there is a naughty back story too.
        Twice may sing about wanting to stay up all night with someone, but it just isn’t convincing.


        Liked by 6 people

    • Love is a theme they often sing about and this is just more mature and flirty, without being over the top. They know hot to be sensual without going too far. I don’t mind that at all. They tried so many different things but they never forgot their roots. They are evolving but they aren’t just going to be totally different. It’s clear what they sing about but it leaves enough to the imagination. Personally I like that idea. I get what you mean but it just doesn’t bother me. I like the fact they do what they want without giving in to demands from different parts of the world.

      Music wise TWICE shouldn’t be as big as they are in the western part of this world, yet they are. I think it’s because it’s clear the members just enjoy being together and enjoy making music for their fans. Their songs never feel soulless.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “TWICE confirms new album in March ‘Our Youth’ will show a different and a never seen side of them. The lead single is a song full of charisma and has powerful dance performances.

        Meanwhile the first single ‘Moonlight Sunrise’ of their upcoming album is out now, it’s a preview of their new style.”

        Whitney Houston is an example of this as well. Love was a theme she often sang about and some songs did get flirty and sensual but they never were too much. Listen to the difference from her debut album (Whitney Houston) and her My Love Is Your Love album. The latter had more bite, even a bit of spite, compared to her first album, but she never went all overboard. She just wanted to make good music with soul. Some artists just don’t go for too much. I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with that. There’s an audience for every kind of music and I’m happy with the way TWICE is approaching it.

        What I do hope for is some more themes other than love. ‘Our Youth’ sounds promising.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think the way they deliver it isn’t convincing, and most of them look like they are singing the song without really understanding the meaning. There seems to be a disconnect between the lyrics being suggestive and the delivery being innocent/child-like in like 6-7 of the members, so (for me) it is actually bordering creepy even though I know they’re all adults.


  7. After listening to it I definitely hear the similarity to TT’s verse. The chorus is also very plain, so while they retain their core elements they were missing their most appealing factor———a catchy and infectious HOOK!


  8. Sounds like Twice meets Ariana Grande to me, which I’m not sure how to feel about yet – I probably like it more than Nick though. I agree about the chorus, it’s my biggest gripe with the song – much too repetitive and droning. This is a nice holdover until their March Korean comeback though, which I have higher hopes for 👀👀


  9. Sounds like the chorus in Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” just rejiggling the notes… I was expecting more but also that chorus is already very very inspired by some other songs. No originality here I’m afraid, it’s a pass for me

    Liked by 5 people

      • The groove is totally different, and the chords. But the melody is really close and they even used the same lyrics….? I’m not a specialist, but surely it can’t be just me hearing it.


    • Okay, now that you mention it that’s all I can hear. But the main problem I have with the chorus is its nasality. It sounds like whoever is singing has a cold?


      • I agree, there’s nothing special about that melody if not how it locks with the drums in “Levitating”. That’s why to me it works in that case, makes me instantly groove to it, but here it doesn’t. I don’t know. “The Feels” grabbed me instantly. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Maybe that’s why I was expecting something more.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I thought it sounded like they put Jessie Ware’s Spotlight through a Twice filter which isn’t really a bad thing. Anything that lets me mention how much I loved Jessie Ware’s last album is a win.


  10. I think its pretty terrible ngl. Liked the Feels well enough so I had some expectations but I was so bored I could barely make it through the song. The instrumental just felt tedious and the chorus feels repetitive without being catchy. My rating would be lower.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Made it up to the middle of the second verse and then turned the song off. That boring, repetitive chorus ruins its potential, and I wish there was a better instrumental paired to the track. Rating feels about right.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. This is one of those “1-hour loop” songs for me. Something I can put on in the background and write over at my job. Pleasant, but nothing I’ll download.

    Nick, would you ever do a top 10 English-language Kpop songs? Apologies if you already did and I missed it.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. On the one hand, I wasn’t crazy about this one; but on the other, nearly every Twice song seemed unmemorable to me at first – until it wasn’t. They were a band I didn’t get for years, honestly. But now I love ’em. So I’m reserving judgment, and hope it’ll grow on me. (By the way, my favorite Twice song is Alcohol-Free, which most seem not to like, so, there it is, haha;)


  14. I’m completely biased and predisposed to absolutely love everything Twice related. If Twice does a thing it’ll automatically be the best thing ever to me specifically. This is absolutely no exception. They look amazing, the video is great, they all sound great, Tzuyu’s up front, Momo’s deep voice, Chaeyoung is such a great singer and I’m always happy to hear her, Nayeon has my whole heart, Ditto for Mina and Sana. I unobjectively love this song a lot. It reminds me a lot of Jessie Ware’s Spotlight song. I love her What’s You Pleasure album and highly recommend it to anyone that hasn’t heard it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I found “the feels” the really cringey and hard to listen to. It definitely had a better chorus (despite not listening to it since it came out I can sing it, meanwhile this came out today and I’m drawing a blank), but it’s other elements repelled me. This song doesn’t excite me much, but I think the women sound so much better here and “I guarantee I gotcha” is pretty catchy. As far second verse breakdowns go you can do do so much worse. I wouldn’t skip it but I’m probably not going to seek it out often


  16. I agree it’s not as catchy as “The Feels”, but I have found myself humming the chorus after listening a couple of times. The chorus is the biggest weakness – just would have liked a fuller, more textured sound and melody. On the MV side, I wish the styling had been a little more eye-catching. I feel like I’m so used to such coherent colour palettes in their MVs that this one seemed messy and murky in comparison. Twice has me used to such high standards!


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