Next up on the Korean artist spotlight series is TWICE’s most recent release: ‘Eyes wide open’, their second full-length album released just shy of Halloween.
I gotta admit, I was hoping that it would be another Halloween-related release, but this concept is just as fabulous for the fall season of TWICEtober. ‘Eyes wide open’ takes TWICE’s image even further with a fashionista concept, evoking the mature growth that TWICE has gone through in a span of 5 years (let’s not forget, they did debut at this time in 2015… how time flies).
TWICE’s eyes are wide open after a long journey in the K-pop industry, but will our eyes ‘open’ to the sounds of the album, or are they going to close because it’s unbearable? Read on…
I CAN’T STOP ME / HELL IN HEAVEN / UP NO MORE / DO WHAT WE LIKE / BRING IT BACK / BELIEVER / QUEEN / GO HARD / SHOT CLOCK / HANDLE IT / DEPEND ON YOU / SAY SOMETHING / BEHIND THE MASK
For more ‘TWICE’ releases, visit the archive.
To kick things off, we’re thrown into the title track, “I CAN’T STOP ME“, an incredibly retro, hyper-synth dance track that may have you grabbing a DeLorean or a Tron car to really immerse yourself in the song. A word of warning to listeners of TWICE, both new and old, but this song is also insanely catchy. It’s that chorus, with its a-ha like instrumental that twinkles and beats with synth power, and an admittedly hard-to-get-out-of-your-head ‘I can’t stop me, can’t stop me’, that defeats you for space in your brain. While it’s not a track that immediately gets you, nor is it one of TWICE’s best title tracks, it certainly has a power to remain and keep with you for a while to come… you can’t stop it. ⬛
“HELL IN HEAVEN“. I love this already. Where do i start?
It hits from the beginning with a haunting bongo-like beat that intertwines itself with samples and background vocalizations and a hard-hitting bass beat, with every hit beating with power. The sultry vocals of the girls add so much flavor to this Latin-inspired (and maybe tropical-inspired even) dance track. It has ‘MORE & MORE’ feels but with so much more oomph and so much more sensuality. It is the maturity that I’ve been looking for, sounding vastly different than anything I’ve heard from TWICE… ever. If paradise is here, then consider me guilty for wanting to go to hell… in heaven. ⬛
Speaking of retro earlier, we’ve got “UP NO MORE” next, and boy, is it retro. Perhaps along the lines of Yubin’s ‘Lady’ or YUKIKA’s ‘NEON’, this next track goes for a disco, future-funk vibe. It is a bit more subdued but it still beats hard with a pretty synth and twinkly whistles to accompany the overall funky melody. It has all the makings of a breezy car ride through Japan in the 90s, with images of neon signs and bright lights flashing before your eyes. With a fire rap segment that also includes skilled dance Momo, ‘UP NO MORE’ may indicate that the girls don’t want to be up any longer, but the song’s beautiful melody has you doing otherwise. ⬛
If ‘UP NO MORE’ was retro, then we’re taken back to the present with “DO WHAT WE LIKE“. Here, the instrumental is reminiscent of tracks from David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Afrojack… just to name a few. Its breezy, almost windy synth melody that is joined by house beats make up the song, and it sounds fitting for the season that had passed us just months ago. The track has quite the catch with its repetitive lyrics, and its chorus will have you jamming out and belting along. It’s a song that’s well-suited to Top 40 radio, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing… TWICE can certainly do what they like. ⬛
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE this next one: “BRING IT BACK“. Lemme break it down…
It starts down, with some slight distortions, before we’re in the verses with some hip-hop beats to give it some edge. Snaps follow suit, which then builds up to a familiar trap twang (you’ve heard these in every rap song), transporting us to the chorus that is all kinds of distorted in instrumental but has such an incredible hook to it… I’m jamming out as we speak. Then, by the end of the song, there’s a tonal change, but it keeps the hip-hop edge in check. Now, this may all be familiar but… this is TWICE at their most girl crush. Everything just works, despite its parts being generic… sounds you’ve heard before. It just feels fresh… hell, I’ve brought myself back every time. ⬛
No, not ‘belieber’, “BELIEVER“! Here, things take a little bit of a more subdued turn, as ‘BELIEVER’ is more of a track that is powered by the vocals of the members accompanied by an incredibly breezy distortion of synth and vocalizations. It’s not a terrible song, at all, opting to continue the influence of electronica music on the album, and there’s a good catch to the chorus melody that will have you bopping your head in rhythm. There’s a sensuality to some of the girls’ vocal delivery, but Jihyo, in particular, really nails this song vocally (which comes as no surprise for a main vocalist). I believe I like the song, but I may appreciate it more with several listens. ⬛
Ba-da-ba-ba-ba, this next one is “QUEEN“. Now, initially didn’t seem very fond of the song because it just didn’t have the same oomph as the tracks we had just listened to, but I listened to this one a few more times to get a better opinion, and I’m glad I did! It’s a fun, snappy jam, with its simple organ-like melody consisting of three notes pulsing throughout the song. Vocally, the girls present a toughness to really show that they indeed are queens and not to be looked at otherwise. While I do like the song now, I do wish there was more of a vogue-like vibe to this song. That being said, it’s a fun song that is fit for a queen. ⬛
TWICE takes us to the Middle East with the Arabian-flaired jammer “GO HARD“, and it does live up to its title throughout. The booming beats of the melody is as hard as ever, hitting on that bass, with the snake charmer instrumental kicking into gear upon the introduction of the chorus. Vocally, the girls deliver, but it is Jihyo’s husky vocals that contribute to the sultriness of the song. ‘GO HARD’ pulses and hypnotizes with its sound that it is almost hard to not have this song play over and over in your head. TWICE has matured, and they’re going hard. Also… you gotta feel special with that mention of their track released last year! ⬛
You gotta beat the “SHOT CLOCK” on the next song! In what I consider to be the sequel to ‘Touchdown’, ‘SHOT CLOCK’ is a fiery anthem that will have you chanting and pumped up. If you aren’t aware, shot clocks are used in basketball to ensure the team can make a shot in a limited amount of time, so when TWICE makes reference, you gotta make sure you make it in time! I love the basketball reference, but I also love the drumline, the heavy beats, the horns, and the powerful vocals that take this song over entirely. It’s a grand rev-up your dribble I’m totally here for to really ensure you can beat that shot clock. ⬛
“HANDLE IT” begins the slow-down of the album, which begins with an acoustic instrumental to accompany the girls’ vocals, before expanding into snaps, and then to a full-on jazz melody that quickly dissipates and continues the same formula. ‘HANDLE IT’ is purely R&B in flavor, with additions of piano to complement, and it has quite the sensual vibe. Towards the end, in what sounds like it could belong on Janet Jackson’s ‘The Velvet Rope’ or even a DEAN song, a sexy piano melody takes over, giving this song a satisfying end… I can’t handle how much I like this song. ⬛
“DEPEND ON YOU” is quite similar to ‘DO WHAT WE LIKE’, as it explores melodies of our modern times, this time going for a deep house tone meshed with acoustics and opting for a more midtempo sound. I prefer this wholly over ‘DO WHAT WE LIKE’ as it has more of a serene feel to it, with its trance-like elements giving it a beautiful ambience, and it complements the girls’ soothing breathier, lower vocals. You can already visualize the atmosphere for the song, and its peacefulness really adds to the diversity on the album. I’ve never depended on a beautiful melody as much as this one. ⬛
Interestingly, “SAY SOMETHING” is similar to another song on this album much like ‘DEPEND ON YOU’ was… except this time, it is much like ‘UP NO MORE’, taking on a vaporwave/future funk route with its incredibly nostalgic instrumental that has Takeuchi Mariya feels all over it. The synth is sassy, the guitar is funky, and while it is slower than ‘UP NO MORE’, ‘SAY SOMETHING’ still manages to have a fun hook to it. Once again, it feels like a drive through Japan in the 90s, but this time, the drive is slower, and the lights are burning brighter than ever. If I had to say something about this song, it would be that it is wonderful. ⬛
We’ve made it to the end! To close off the album is the powerful ballad, “BEHIND THE MASK“, which perhaps has lyrical connection to what is happening to the world in 2020. It is a beautiful ballad built upon a techno melody that pulses throughout, giving the a serene and gorgeous atmosphere. With additional drum parts that feels almost like it was taken out of a Fifth Harmony album, ‘BEHIND THE MASK’ is a vocally and instrumentally beautiful track, ending the album with a sense of hopefulness for the world. Behind every mask there is a smile, and I smile because of this closing track. ⬛
A fantastic album from the 9-member group, I cannot recommend ‘Eyes wide open’ enough.
This album has a little something for everyone. It is diverse in styles, ranging from future funk to jazz R&B. It also has tons of retro tracks, taking a page from their former sister group Wonder Girls. ‘Eyes wide open’ came out four days ago, but I can’t seem to get a lot of the songs out of my head… the power of TWICE. My eyes are now wide open; this is a contender for one of my favorite albums of 2020, perhaps of K-pop as a whole. Are yours wide open to the power of TWICE?
MUST-LISTEN: HELL IN HEAVEN, BRING IT BACK, DEPEND ON YOU, BEHIND THE MASK