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Posted by jennywill AKP STAFF Tuesday, November 7, 2017

[OP-ED] Is TWICE on an unending spiral of trying to be too cute?


Is TWICE on an unending spiral of trying to be too cute?

There's no argument that TWICE is one of the most successful girl groups - if not the most successful girl group - ever in K-pop. They've broken records on Melon, rewrote history for girl group album sales, set records on Youtube, and much, much more. They've done what was previously thought impossible for girl groups and won two Daesangs just barely a year after debuting. It's hard to believe that they've just gotten past their two-year anniversary a month ago.

However, it's unclear how much longer TWICE can keep up the cute concept. Girl groups usually start out cute (or innocent) and graduate themselves into more and more mature concepts. Of course, there are exceptions such as 2NE1, Black Pink, MAMAMOO, or even JYP's own miss A, where they just start out with stronger or more mature concepts, but most girl groups start out fresh and deepen their image out. It makes sense because as the girls get older, it's harder to do cutesy, innocent stuff. 

But TWICE actually went the opposite direction - they started off with "Like OOH-AHH", which is their least cutesy song. The songs turned to "Cheer Up", and then "TT", "Knock Knock", "Signal", and now ultimately "Likey". Somehow TWICE is getting more and more cutesy - to a point where "Likey" is almost infantile.

TWICE is getting older, but their lyrics keep getting younger. "Like OOH-AHH" talked about love making them more gorgeous (in both English and Korean, the word also implies a sense of maturity), but "Cheer Up" suddenly had the girls wanting to be the boy's baby, but other than that "Cheer Up" isn't too bad. "TT" hints that the girls aren't all grown up yet and have them playing with dolls (which, don't get me wrong, adults can do, but that's not the connotation of the lyrics), and then "Knock Knock" and "Signal" are made mostly of cute onomatopoeia. Not to mention in all of these songs, the girls are waiting for the guys to come express themselves to them and are, a little harshly put, whining about why the guy won't do anything. 

But the worst is "Likey". The lyrics of putting on BB cream, lipstick, and then dressing themselves up may look more grown up, but the onomatopoeia that accompanies them is infantile. No one over the age of 5 would use those sounds. 

And... why? It's not even TWICE's fault. In fact, it's degrading to TWICE that JYP gives them songs like these. They're not babies. They're not even adolescents. All the girls minus Tzuyu and Chaeyoung are adults, and the last two girls will be adults in less than two months. They deserve better. A lot better.

If TWICE wants to be cute, they can totally do so without having to make themselves into toddlers. "Cheer Up" did that just fine. Even "Like OOH-AHH" was a good balance of cute and sexy and strong-girl. But honestly, JYP is going to have to think about starting to mature their image because they can't be cute and baby-like forever. 

In fact, the baby image has already turned off a lot of people. TWICE used to hit 700,000 daily users with their songs on Melon. It was rare for them to drop down into the 500,000s, even weeks after release. "Signal", their 'worst' performing song so far, didn't drop into the 500k range until 20 days after release, and even then it was 550k. (Worst is obviously comparative here because even their 'worst' song is a lot better than most others' else's best.)

But "Likey" is different. A day after release, "Likey" dropped down to the 500k range. Of course, there is obviously a tragedy to factor in. But the numbers kept dropping, and songs such as MeloMance's "Gift", which is obviously not as cutesy and bright as TWICE but still a positive song, was doing fine. TWICE's performance on Korea's biggest chart Melon is almost shocking because of how bad it is compared to their previous amazing performances. We are talking about a group that holds the longest record for keeping #1 without ever dropping. They couldn't even hold it for a day.

Yes, fans are still buying albums. But TWICE's strength is not in their physical albums (which, while incredibly impressive for girls, still doesn't sell as much as boys), but in their digital charting. 

It's time for JYP to think a little about what they're doing to TWICE. TWICE members aren't little girls. They pull off sexy just fine. Remember their amazing "Adult Ceremony" performance? (Yes, I know Jihyo is at the end of this.)

Or their maknae's LG CF?

Or hey, maybe they could even go back to this!

There's absolutely no question TWICE can do it, and do it well. Obviously, they can't suddenly go sexy after something like "Likey", but they can definitely warm up to a more mature image. It's just not fair to TWICE to hash and then rehash and then re-rehash the so-cute-and-sweet-you'll-get-cavities concept.

They deserve better.

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