TWICE – “Likey” Review

(Music Video) / (Dance Practice)

TWICE – Likey

Reviewed on March 21, 2018

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Unlike the group of TWICE songs where both composition and vocal execution are both questionable, “Likey” holds as vocally decent and definitely strong with its composition.

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Song Score: 6/10 (6.25/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”

– Vocals: 6/10

– Structure: 7/10

– Instrumental: 7/10

– Lyrics: 5/10

My heart’s fluttering
Me likey
Me likey likey likey
Me likey likey likey
(Rub dub rub dub, heart heart)
Me likey
Me likey likey likey
Me likey likey likey
(Rub dub rub dub)

I keep wanting to show you
every little thing, each and every one
In that small screen,
I want to look the prettiest
But I’m still hiding these feelings in my heart

Getting all dolled up
is so annoying
But I can’t just be careless
Every day, you make my heart race
But you can’t find out
so I’ll blatantly:

Put on BB cream, pat-pat-pat
Put on lipstick, mam-mam-ma
Shall I make a pretty pose for the camera?
Look at this and smile for me
And please press it–on the bottom
That cute and red
(Heart heart)

But it’s so typical to say “I like you”
It’s not enough to express my heart
But I like you, I can’t even sleep
I don’t care if I run late

My heart’s fluttering
Me likey
Me likey likey likey
Me likey likey likey
(Rub dub rub dub, heart heart)
Me likey
Me likey likey likey
Me likey likey likey
(Rub dub rub dub)

I’m holding in my breath so I can zip up
Pulling it over my waist once more
All done, baby
There are so many
pretty clothes in this world

Put on BB cream, pat-pat-pat
Put on lipstick, mam-mam-ma
Shall I make a pretty pose for the camera?
Look at this and smile for me
And please press it–on the bottom
That cute and red
(Heart heart)

But it’s so typical to say “I like you”
It’s not enough to express my heart
But I like you, I can’t even sleep
I don’t care if I run late

I’m just looking at you
but I couldn’t say anything
Come a little closer
Please know my heart
I don’t want to hide it anymore

I feel down today
I try to act like I’m not but
people ask if I’m sad
I’m upset because you’re
not reacting at all
And my senseless friends
keep calling me to come out
Oh wait, wait
I’m finally getting something from you
All day, my mood goes back and forth
Up and down, now I’m dancing

My heart’s fluttering
Me likey
Me likey likey likey
Me likey likey likey
(Rub dub rub dub, heart heart)
Me likey
Me likey likey likey
Me likey likey likey
(Rub dub rub dub, heart heart)

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New Format

As mentioned in the prior review, I am adopting a new reviewing format. To list out the differences, there are two places of change: the ratings and the old “analysis” section. For what changed with the rating system, I have taken away the “Sections” rating and consolidated it into “Structure” as a more overarching, simpler way of handling it. It still deals with the same topic of how a song is structured with different sections, but rather than focusing on each section I found it more efficient and effective to focus on all of them and their effects on the song at large. In terms of the analysis portion, as noticed, it is “gone” and instead will now be replaced as the bulk content of reviews. So from the old Personal Message section to the song review itself, reviews will simply have all of its writing compacted into one spot. Furthermore, though, for what drastically helps both readers and me, I will be adding in headers as a form of organization. This way, for readers who are skimming for the meat of the review to read or for readers who wish to see my main critiques or praises to a song in an easy form, the headers will essentially convey all of the key points. The written content itself will be to explain and elaborate on those headers.

In the end, this all becomes a win-win scenario: all types of readers—from those merely skimming or for those who read every word, or for those here purely for musical discussions or those also here for a social perspective to specific songs and situations—benefit with this introduction of headers and it allows me to be far more concise with my writing. This, however, will mean I purposefully ignore some discussion points in songs but again, with being realistic due to how busy I am and how that is further exacerbated next semester, I need this format to still remain somewhat active. (The only complaint I have with the current format is that paragraphs are not consistently copy-and-pasted in Tumblr. Currently the workaround is to not use paragraphs when writing these reviews, but I hope to find a more permanent solution that will enable the use of indentations.)

Where Have I Been?

Given that some readers might be curious on why I have disappeared from reviewing K-Pop songs, I simply have been far too busy to keep up. I even struggle with just watching my current queue of videos and dramas—though as noted in the previous review, I have finished two dramas that I plan to review. (One drama will consist of me ripping it apart with criticism while the other will be of high praise.) All that said, I am still aware of a few requests I have and will get to them whenever it is possible. Unfortunately, I might have to change the idea of “requests” to “recommended” as I can no longer consistently uphold my promise of reviewing every requested song I receive.

TWICE’s “Likey”

With all of that cleared up, let us finally address TWICE’s “Likey.” For months I have desired to review this song as, boldly stated, I believe it is perhaps one of the best generic K-Pop songs I have heard as of yet. (Also by “generic K-Pop” I refer to what more objectively might be known as “bubble pop” or a variation on that term—such as “bubblegum pop.” Basically, the idea is that “generic K-Pop” is a pop song that heavily relies on fast-paced, catchy, and upbeat styles and elements in order to hastily grab listeners’ attention. Conceptually, though, I urge that readers do not conflate “bubble pop” as, for example, purely a “feminine” concept. While the initial imagery in one’s head might be that of “Likey” and its “feminine” cuter, colorful aspects, the genre of “bubble pop” also easily and equally applies to boy groups. One defining example in my mind—and arguably another generic/bubble pop song that ties with “Likey” as the best in K-Pop—would be Infinite’s “The Chaser.” Even if that one focuses on a more “tough” and “cool” concept—a more “masculine concept”—musically speaking I argue it aligns directly with “Likey”: fast-paced, upbeat, and catchy, and it relies on use of color-popping dances and other aesthetics.)

Now certainly “Likey” is not the best song I have heard in an overall sense, but once again to reiterate, it is one of the best songs with this particular genre and style. Factoring in non-musical aspects as well—be it with the choreography and stages and music video—and “Likey” seems to have solidified its place as one of the most iconic K-Pop songs of all time, akin to how Infinite’s “The Chaser” is still consistently hailed as one of the best and iconic songs of K-Pop history.

Nonetheless, even if I equate “Likey” to the legendary “The Chaser,” there are still potential problems with the song. But, indeed, “Likey” is not as polarizing as other TWICE songs have been. As much as I have sincerely been a fan of them lately—after all, their genuine and loving personalities are very entertaining and heartwarming—I still hold myself as being one of their serious (yet respectful) critics. While TWICE has pleasantly surprised me with past songs such as “Knock Knock,” I still cannot say the same for “Like Ooh-Ahh,” “Cheer Up,” “TT,” “Signal,” and even “Heart Shaker”—though I might excuse the latter song as just average versus being worse than such. On topic again, the point is this: “Likey” manages to avoid the weaker, lower tier songs and instead finds itself comfortably sitting with “Knock Knock.” Unlike the group of TWICE songs where both composition and vocal execution are both questionable, “Likey” holds as vocally decent and definitely strong with its composition.

Problematic Features

Let us now begin with finally focusing on the song itself. To first begin, it is worth noting the current critiques I have towards it. Perhaps as some readers might have already predicted, while TWICE’s vocals are passable in this song, it arguably is still the group’s weakest musical point. Now, the group’s main vocalists (Jihyo, Jeongyeon, and Nayeon) and lead vocalist and main rapper (Mina, Chaeyoung respectively) are definitely solid, but once again I find that the sub vocalists are somewhat lacking. (An exception might be with Tzuyu; her part in the first verse was a surprising improvement.) Specifically, though, my main critique here lies with the pre-choruses’ vocals: sections that were potentially too vocally intensive for Momo in particular.

This is not to claim that she cannot sing or is a bad singer; instead, what I mean by the prior statement is that, for the pre-choruses, the line distribution should have better accommodated the members’ vocal ability and comfort. Ignoring the pre-choruses, arguably every other section corresponds to an appropriately matched member and her vocal specialization. For example, with the post-choruses to “Likey,” Sana—a sub vocalist for the group—handles a majority of them. This, however, works favorably: given Sana’s weaker vocals but that the post-choruses rely less on intense vocals but rather catchy singing, it means that Sana’s vocals are able to handle the task effectively and comfortably. On the other hand, with Momo’s role of being a sub vocalist (and potentially a rapper as seen in other cases) and yet having to handle the pre-choruses’ slightly more demanding vocal level, we now find a situation of a mismatch. Momo’s vocals come off as overly strained, pressured, and this all sharply contrasts prior sections where the vocals in the other sections come off smoothly and easily.

As for other potential issues with “Likey,” the remaining are more minor critiques. One is—given the nature of “Likey” and its key phrase—repetitiveness. Unlike past songs such as “Knock Knock” where a key phrase (knock knock) is repeated frequently, “Likey” uses a similar formula but lacks the faster pacing behind “Knock Knock.” If I recall correctly, in my review of “Knock Knock,” I (should have) mentioned how the “knock knock” phrases were quickly delivered and in addition to that, were then readily contrasted by vocal beltings. This, as a result, meant the excessive repetitive feeling many listeners would feel is removed: the repetitiveness of the single phrase no longer holds if listener are equally given belting and myriad of paces to balance. With “Likey,” though, those same protective features are not implemented. When the post-choruses arrive, the repeated use of “Likey” is not only at a relatively slower pace, but nothing else is introduced in order to provide any form of variety. Sadly, a sense of staleness and repetitiveness are the outcomes due to such. Finally, for perhaps a point that might not even be worthy of mentioning, “Likey” also has a very gentle problem of how the choruses are equally at fault for coming off as repetitive. However—and emphasis on “however”—this might be due to how well “Likey” hypes up to the choruses. Thus, rather than those sections being repetitive due to repeating key phrases and the like, I might merely be finding it repetitive as it feels as the choruses drop drastically from the verses and pre-choruses—but, in this situation, I would not claim this is necessarily a major flaw. (For an example of where this would be a flaw, 4Minute’s “Hate” provides such. That song excellently builds up and hypes itself, but the choruses are incredibly disappointing and repetitive.)

“Likey” as an Iconic Korean Pop Song

Nevertheless, even with those criticisms in place, “Likey”—as discussed earlier—is still a song I would now place as iconic for K-Pop. One of its defining aspects is the song’s instrumental. Its instrumental is structurally and audibly beneficial to “Likey” as a whole. It is impressive. A prominent example of such is during the first verse. On top of how the instrumental adds a welcoming, deeper sound that meshes in with TWICE’s vocals, the first verse showcases how subtle and yet effective the instrumental can be. During this section, in order to begin accelerating and hyping the song, the only transformation that occurs halfway in is that the beats become slightly more frequent and that an additional beat is thrown in. Even if incredibly subtle, the payout is enormous: this indicates to listeners an upcoming change—both literally with the upcoming pre-chorus but also with how upbeat the song is. Although I might be overly praising this section, I will—on a personal note—claim that the first verse in “Likey” is one of the best verses I have heard in many K-Pop songs.

As for other gold moments, the iconic Dahyun-Chaeyoung rap duo section towards the end of the song is also worthy highlighting. Despite the two ladies not necessarily showcasing absolutely perfect flow and rhythms, what allows the rap section to excel is how creative it is. From how the rap is able to lead in through a bridge to the fantastic, dramatic pause in the middle that amplifies Chaeyoung’s finishing rap lines and finally to the concluding, instrumental solo break, this rap section—even if not individually or mechanically enticing—is compositionally stunning. In clearer terms and without potentially making up English words: the rap section is phenomenal with its composition—its structure and format. And, of course, we cannot forget Dahyun’s and Chaeyoung’s rapping that do execute the section.

The Takeaway

Although “Likey” is not flawless, I consider it an above average song. Numerically speaking, yes the lyrics do bring it down but if focusing on the song in of itself, I confidently say that “Likey” deserves to reside as a timeless, iconic K-Pop song. “Likey” is able to take on the generic pop genre and yet, unlike others that at times fall short due to overly investing more into comeback concepts (focusing on the music video only, outfits, etc.) rather than musical content and quality, “Likey” manages to capture both components. JYP Entertainment, indeed, was able to produce not only a beautiful music video, choreography and stage costumes, they were also wary of equally balancing and cherishing the musical piece.

Unfortunately, though, I will not necessarily end this review without a harsher point. While “Likey” and “Knock Knock” (and a few notable album songs) have been very strong releases, TWICE is—to me—one of the most inconsistent groups in K-Pop. I do not mean inconsistent with concepts; I refer to instead how they can release a song that is atrocious and on the next comeback will have a “Likey”-tiered song. On an individual level, I hope the ladies of TWICE continually improve their vocal abilities and current trends do show that is very much happening. But, in terms of JYP Entertainment’s role, I hope for more consistent, high quality pop songs. I hope that the composition of future TWICE songs will continue to be at the level of “Knock Knock” and “Likey” and not, for example, “Signal” or their earlier songs that focused far less on musical appeal and more on sheer attention-grabbing via catchiness and hooks. And so, while I do consider myself a fan of TWICE and wholeheartedly support the ladies, I still will continue to be a critical listener of their songs.

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