Twice’s latest release will truly make you ‘Feel Special’

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Jacqueline Sumida

Twice’s individual and group photocards, showing off the different sides of Asia’s most successful female idol group.

On Sept. 23, 2019, international icons and record-breaking girl group Twice released their 13th studio record “Feel Special,” causing me to cry over a music video at 5 a.m. No, I’m serious, I actually cried at their latest music video release Monday morning. My family is slightly concerned.

Twice was formed by JYP Entertainment during a survival show called “Sixteen,” where you guessed it, sixteen contestants fought for seven slots to debut. In the end, seven girls were chosen and in a shock conclusion, two eliminated contenders were brought back to solidify the group. The nine girls that won were Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung and Tzuyu– the ladies of Twice.

The group debuted in 2015 and started captivating hearts with their cute and sporty image. Except the group wouldn’t gain significant success until 2016 when their two comebacks “Cheer Up” and “TT” became international hits with signature dance moves that everyone was trying to do. Suddenly, all of Asia and part of the world fell in love with Twice.

Twice would win the 2016 Song of The Year award at the 2016 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) with “Cheer Up,” starting a three-year sweep of the award with “Signal” in 2017 and “What Is Love?” in 2018. At the same time, they would top the Orion charts in Japan with every single song they released, mostly due to the popularity of their three Japanese members Momo, Sana and Mina. 2019 proved to be the turning point for Korea’s mainstay girl group.

In April, Twice released “Fancy,” signaling a more mature route for the nine-member group and announced their first world tour “Twicelights,” making stops in Chicago, Mexico City and Bangkok along its trek. But JYP’s signature group would be making the trip as eight because Mina was diagnosed with an extreme anxiety disorder, prompting her to not take part in Japanese promotions and the world tour. That fact alone makes this release a special one for Once, Twice’s passionate and supportive fandom.

Mina came back for us, for Once, for Twice.

“Feel Special” marks Mina’s first participation in group activities since July. Even if she will not be participating in promotions, Myoui Mina’s fingerprints are all over this release, giving fans the chance to relish their penguin’s voice once more.

For this album, the ladies took on a more chic and elegant look, a step away from their eye-popping, bright-colored “Fancy” era. The music shares a similar vibe, it’s electronics and beat being more layered and complex. Its lead single tells the whole story.

According to statements from their company about the album, “Feel Special’s” title track was inspired by conversations that JYP himself had with the girls over their four-year existence. The lyrics themselves are full of statements of reassurance and love such as visual Tzuyu and main dancer Momo’s shared line “Everything’s alright/From nobody to somebody/I become a very special me.” The song itself croons about how a certain person can make you feel on top of the entire world, believing that you are loved and safe. 

This is the first Twice title track that really allows all of their vocal lines to shine brightly. Tzuyu and Momo trade pre-choruses with the best of them while rapper Chaeyoung and Mina show off their incredible vocals with triplet lines and offbeat rhythms. Powerhouse vocalists Nayeon, Jihyo, Jeongyeon and Sana belt out the chorus with perfect English and Korean phrases.

Not to mention Dahyun’s rap part which is pure fire. Dubu, her Korean nickname because of her tofu-like skin color, uses her deep rap vocals to strike you hard with one of her best rap parts to date. Not bad for an underrated idol rapper. 

Next up is the Nayeon penned track “Rainbow” where a great mystery unravels. The song itself is another vocal track with a signature Dahyun/Chaeyoung tag-team rap part, typical of Twice. Jihyo and Nayeon really shine on this track, proving why their vocals are some of the most desired in the K-pop industry. 

The real reason I even address this track though is right after Mina’s bridge line at 2:20, someone hits an A6 whistle tone note perfectly. But no one knows who hit it. The debate is between lead vocalists Nayeon and Mina, the only two members who have proven they have this range. 

After “Rainbow,” the next two songs are my favorites on the album– “Get Loud” and “Trick It.” “Get Loud” is a straight-up dance track with an infectious beat with sharp whistles over its main melodies. This song is a complete contrast from the last four years of Twice, very much marking the new era with main vocalist Jihyo’s signature belting high notes throughout. 

The Dahyun penned “Trick It” sounds a lot like “Russian Roulette” by Red Velvet with an elegant twist. The song has an up-and-down beat running all the way through it with short vocal riffs along the way. It was really a roller coaster throughout, with a bumping chorus instrumental full of shouts to top it all off.

“Love Foolish” is the more mature version of “Fancy,” no doubt about it and no one can argue with me. The two songs run along similar veins, both being about love and the crazy feelings associated with it. Except Nayeon and Jihyo’s chorus gives having a crush real emotions.

It’s strange, the more I fall into you/I’m sorry, I hate you/I don’t know myself either/I’m trapped in this maze of strange feelings.”

The most impressive part is that half of this song is in English and none of them speak English; they’re all from either South Korea, Japan or Taiwan. Mina moved to Japan from the United States when she was two months old though, but that wasn’t enough time for her to naturalized and learn the language. Their English is perfect with pronunciation being crystal clear the entire time, allowing English speaking fans to understand the meaning of the track easier. 

Closing out the original tracks on this album is “21:29,” a softer more chic track written by all of Twice, marking Tzuyu’s first songwriting credit ever. The title means to Once, to Nine, a simple way of saying that Twice and Once are connected forever. It’s simply a love letter to their fans showing their appreciation for their continued love and support through the years. 

The track plainly states “This is for you/You are my dream,” the easiest verbal audience identification since party people. Twice croons their way through the track with tight vocal harmonies surrounded by strings and soft bass. It’s the most perfect love song.

The album ends with the Korean version of their incredible Japanese single “Breakthrough,” coming a month after it’s original debut during their performance at the M2 X Genie Music Awards (MGMA) Aug. 1. It’s just as good as the original and gives context to the small MGMA section from earlier. 

In the end, Twice have once again created another perfect album, but with an absolutely meaningful theme to them and their Once. It’s a new direction for the group, and it’s turned out amazing, covering new ground and allowing all of their members’ talents to be shown easily. “Feel Special” truly made me feel, well, special.

One more thing, thank you, Mina, for giving Once something to enjoy in your absence and we will always love you. We miss you, Mina. Feel special.