Song Review: Twice – Set Me Free

Twice - Set Me FreeTwice’s graceful metamorphosis into their current pop sound marks one of K-pop’s most satisfying evolutions. The group has always created great music, but they’ve managed to mature in a way that feels fresh, fun and natural. When it comes to pop groups, the goal is really quite simple: consistently release strong music and promote it well. Twice have succeeded in both these regards, and Set Me Free is another notch on their belt — albeit a smaller one.

In my mind, last year’s Talk That Talk remains a career highlight — setting expectations high for Set Me Free. Naturally, I can’t help but compare the two. Though they both exist within the vast dance pop genre, each takes a decidedly different approach. Set Me Free is a punchier workout, built on gurgling electro bass and gusts of textured disco strings. It’s clearly indebted to the post-Future Nostalgia landscape we find ourselves in this decade, but the aesthetic works for Twice.

A song with this specific vibe tends to be a surefire hit for me, which means I get nitpicky about the small things. Set Me Free’s opening verse offers a perfect set-up, unveiling a sticky melody that delivers K-pop attitude without skimping on the hooks. The chorus pulls us upward, flanked by those icy strings. But, the melody is a bit repetitive for my taste. I’m not saying I don’t like it. I just wish it grew into something more spectacular as the track went on. Instead, the arrangement sticks in one gear, forcing the verses (and especially the second pre-chorus) to do much of the heavy lifting. And, the bridge is a total energy drain. It should have opted for an explosive brass throwdown instead of yet another perfunctory trap verse. But as I mentioned, these are nitpicks. Overall, Set Me Free is buoyed by the strength of its era. It’s a perfectly satisfying entry in a string of standout singles from the group.

Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9

Grade: B


42 thoughts on “Song Review: Twice – Set Me Free

  1. I really thought this was Scientist 2.0 with the structure, as, like that song, the rap is at the end. Definitely, like Momo rapping here.

    Imma gives this an 8.5 for me, it can grow on me, however.


  2. This is so great. Its such a fun song and the video made them all look like the prettiest human on earth. Tzuyu and Mina especially look amazing. Twice is my favorite group so I’m not the least bit partial but songs like this is why. This whole album was really great.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I love Talk That Talk (it’s just a 10) and it’s too early for me to tell if I like Set Me Free better or not. What I do know is that I absolutely love it. It’s so epic. The clip is stunning. I love the instrumentals. The girls sing quite low and sound really great. And the entire album is wonderful. I noticed you rated this lower than Scientist but this most definitely is better for me. It’s at least a 9 for me at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This feels like the companion piece to Can’t Stop Me, albeit a much weaker song.

    I like the direction they’re taking Twice in, but this song just isn’t good enough.
    Chorus isn’t strong enough, Nayeon’s being given notes that are too high and the rap was dreadful.

    Fingers crossed this is a grower!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hooked on the chorus bit from the teasers alone, but the full song left a littttleee to be desired – still like it a lot though! The rap was not my thing however.

    The mini album though…I don’t know if it’s too early to say but wtf I really liked every B-side?? Can’t choose a favourite right now at all ahhhhh

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I actually thought that the verses and the pre-chorus didn’t link up well. Bridge and climax were a bit predictable but still fine on their own.
    Solid 8 for me.


  7. Can’t Stop Me is forever engraved on my brain because of that killer chorus. When the teaser for Set Me Free first dropped, I absolutely forgot I watched it. Days later, I randomly heard the chorus of Set Me Free and asked myself why this sht is such an absolute banger only to realize it’s not even released yet lol. Now that it’s released, I’m absolutely in love with every second of it. Also, I like that when a song absolutely kills it, they make the best English version of it with the perfect lyrics.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I feel like Twice is the Seventeen of girl groups–super reliable, mass appeal, title tracks that almost never disappoint, and they’re still growing. This song isn’t particularly memorable to me but it does what it needs to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I only listened to it once, but I thought it was ok. Kinda forgettable? I usually like Twice’s outputs but this just didn’t hit with me. Maybe with a few more listens.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This mini-album as a whole is really fun. I enjoy the journey that it takes me on. 😀

    I can’t even name a favorite b-side because I enjoy them all together!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The song sounds nice. Almost everything about it, except for the chorus. I got a bit underwhelmed by this part. Overall, a decent-sounding classic Twice retro tune. Rating is too high, flat 8 at best.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. TWICE is my favorite group, I will play this a lot, it has a lot of strong points. I still think it’s mid tier for them from the past few years – I much prefer Talk That Talk, The Feels, and Scientist.

    My least favorite is the key and vocal mixing? Both this and Moonlight Sunrise have kind of a nasally, grating vocal tone that may prevent me from loving it. Usually Nayeon’s voice really does it for me but there is something off here, especially since I prefer a smoother vocal in songs like this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I heard that sharp vocal timbre as well. It has a bit of piercing quality to it, whatever they did to it to get it to sound that way. The microphone choice? It might bother me more if I listen to the songs on repeat, but as I don’t I just shrug and move on.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I really enjoyed it, but then again, I haven’t met many Twice songs that I don’t enjoy so far. I harbor immense dislike for the bridge (real buzzkill), but I like the way they pulled out of it, and the rest of the song is great. I especially like the second part of the chorus as a follow up to the first part melodically. And the stringsssss.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I was underwhelmed on the first listen, feeling a but let down by an intro I loved and a pre-chorus that felt like filler. But after a few listens, I like it a lot more than _Moonlight Sunrise_ and the hook is absolutely embedded in my brain.


  15. Really wish the rap bridge was not there 😟 otherwise I definitely like this more than Moonlight Sunrise. Usually this kind of retro soundscape is right up my alley but it still feels like it’s missing something… I think the song’s fine/serviceable. Personally Got the Thrills on the album is my favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Their singles this year have been good; maybe not as good as 2022’s Talk That Talk or Pop!, or their high-point, 2021’s The Feels, Scientist, and the criminally-underrated masterpiece that is Alcohol-Free (their best single in this current era, and I don’t care what anyone else has to say about it!:). But then, it’s only March, and this is a band made for the summer, and they’re so prolific I’ll bet more’s coming soon…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, that’s a hot take you have about Alcohol-Free! I appreciate that opinion as I’m a sucker for anything bossa nova, but I don’t have it as my personal favorite because Twice’s vocalists don’t have the finesse to truly pull off a bossa nova concept, but it has absolutely grown on me!


      • Is bossa nova considered difficult to sing? I remember Astrud Gilbero used to get knocked by jazz critics because of her voice; but that was kind of the point, it was meant to be breezy. And then there’s the father of bossa nova, João Gilberto, whose voice rarely rose above a low whisper; Tom Jobim was only slightly louder. The vocalists of Tropicália and MPB on the other hand tended to be more virtuosic belters (Gal Costa, Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethania). That’s my impression, anyway. (But I’m not a singer, just a guitarist, so probably real singers will tell me I’m very wrong! lol)

        Besides being a great song, what I think really sold the song for me is timing: It came out around the same time as the K-drama Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, which my wife and I really loved. I just associate it with that show and how it makes me feel. The OST too has some really good songs, and Twice’s Alcohol-Free just sounds like it could exist in that universe. In fact, I burned a CD mix of Howetown Cha-Cha-Cha tues and dialogue along with a few songs that really fit that vibe, chief among them Alcohol-Free.


  17. Seems like a step down from Talk That Talk or even I Can’t Stop Me. I enjoyed the video and choreography, but the song fell short to me. Like other commenters, I think the rap was unnecessary. A vocal bridge maybe would’ve been better. I wish the very loud background vocals would have been sung by a TWICE member, as it’s strange to hear another’s voice in the middle of a TWICE song when it’s not a feature or collab.


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