TWICE – “TT” Review

(Music Video)

TWICE – TT

Reviewed
on October 24, 2016

Vocals do not necessarily have to be utterly dynamic and possessing a multitude of styles and forms, but in this song’s case of not having moments of noticeable changes, appeal is greatly lost.

Edit:
I have decided to post this sooner rather than on Halloween due to the song
trending and that I want to voice my opinion on the “hating” of TWICE.

Personal Message:
Here is a tale of two kids’
adventurous night. Little did they know, they were in for a fright. Or was that
last phrase not very polite? After all, it was TWICE who came to light! Indeed,
this reviewer shall see his mistake though only in hindsight. Besides, are
these rhymes not trite? While this poem fails to sound right, I will remind you
all: this review begins tonight—or at least that is when I write. So come
inside and sit tight; rest assured, you have enough might. Fans of TWICE may
feel, for this review, uptight—but I promise you all: this is all for delight.

And that is enough rhyming and
probably not worth the many minutes I spent pondering over words that would
rhyme and still make sense in some
form. Perhaps I was overly optimistic when I challenged myself to write this
entire Personal Message in rhyme. On topic, while I hope readers enjoy the
horrible poetry (and admittedly I very much dislike poetry except for perhaps The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti—a
great read for those wanting a poem that can be analyzed through a multitude of
literary/social lenses), if not clear on why I took on that playful route, it
is Halloween as of this review’s posting date. Coincidentally, while searching
for K-Pop songs that had a spookier tone, TWICE had a comeback that aligned
perfectly with this. Thus, it is a win-win situation: I get a holiday-themed
review (for those whose culture celebrates it, of course; ironically enough, I
personally do not celebrate it minus in the form of this review) all while reviewing
a comeback of arguably the top rising female group. Transitioning now to a more
serious tone, though, let us begin discussing TWICE.

As some readers may know, I have
reviewed their debut song (“Like Ooh-Ahh”). While I will not link the review,
readers can easily find it in the blog’s archive. Most importantly to take away
from that review are two main points: for the simple one, TWICE did not
musically impress me nor did the song’s production; but more importantly, for
the second point, that even if a song scores poorly this does not mean an
artist is bereft of musical skills. With the latter point, more often than not,
I would argue it is a song’s production that controls quality more than the
artists’ skills. A simple and relevant example is I.O.I’s final song: “Very
Very Very.” Although I say the following words with much respect, that song is
rather mediocre and definitely a weaker song I have heard. Is this due to I.O.I
being incapable vocalists? Not at all; another song, “Hold Up,” is a fantastic
song and specifically with the vocals, I.O.I certainly shines. With TWICE, many
of these points apply—more so with “Like Ooh-Ahh” and “Cheer Up” as their past
songs have been exceptionally weaker ones (as I would argue).

Now of course for critical fans and
listeners—or perhaps those truly looking to bash
the ladies versus critiquing them
(yes, there is a difference; the former is never justified while the latter is
based on intellectual, mature discussions)—there is an opposing side to my
previous statements. One could easily argue: “What if TWICE receives weaker
song productions because they actually cannot
sing to higher standard?” To this, I have a few answers. For one, I personally
am not familiar enough with TWICE to fully understand their vocal capabilities.
In fact, I only know that Jihyo is their main vocalist and do not know the
other members’ musical positions (lead vocalist; sub/support vocalist, etc.). In
other words, this opposing argument is very much still valid: if it is
true—again, I personally do not know—that TWICE is overall vocally weaker than
most artists, this definitely would affect the songs they receive. On the other
hand, if it is true that TWICE are in fact solid singers but only receive
generic pop songs, then their vocals will never be disclosed to their fullest
potential. However, regardless of the heated musical debates, though I very
much cherish them and do believe listeners of pop music should go beyond merely
listening to a song and instead actively
listen to pop (a future review will discuss “active listening”), I believe listeners
have forgotten one point we all need to be reminded of: TWICE members are human
beings, too.

While it is definitely fair to
criticize them musically—that is, to maturely
challenge their musical skills and songs—sometimes listeners become overly zealous
in doing so to the point that we dehumanize TWICE members. For example, I have
read very atrocious comments about the ladies that are based not on, say,
sexism or racism, but on their supposed “lack of skills.” Based on supposedly
lacking musical skills, a few people have went to the degree of urging them to
quit their careers or that the ladies are complete failures and bring shame to
music. Again, sure these comments are not necessarily “socially dehumanizing,”
but even so, these comments on the basis of their music still very much hurt
TWICE members and completely disregards their accomplishments and hard work.

For what I wish to say to these
remarks and people, I understand the passion one feels when listening to rather
weak songs; it is true that it can be frustrating in a musical context, and
admittedly more so when a group is receiving much attention for “lacking
musical skills”—and let us be honest, TWICE is
getting quite popular. So, for people who see them as musically weak and yet
succeeding while other skilled groups are struggling to keep up, it makes sense
on why many bash TWICE. I definitely do not accept that behavior, though, and
this is where I will put in my honest take. Personally, I am not a musical fan of TWICE; I find their past
songs very poor and I personally do consider them a less musically skilled
group and at times am surprised at how popular they are getting despite such.
And yet, I consider myself a supporter of TWICE. That is right: as a critical
listener and pop music reviewer (and I do hope this does not sound
condescending), I am supporting a group that I do consider musically weaker.
Why do I do that? Because, besides how pop music is definitely more than just
the music itself such as with variety shows, I respect TWICE as the hard
working human beings they are. Sure,
“Cheer Up” was horrendous (from my argument) and yet it got them even more
popular, but this does not mean I have the privilege to now neglect the members
for who they are and what they have done. It is mentally and
physically difficult to be a K-Pop idol, and knowing how hard they worked to
get into the industry needs to be respected. Most importantly, though, at the
end of it all, they are humans. Humans. This is not to say we should never
criticize TWICE’s music; funny enough, after this digression ends, I will very
much hammer down on TWICE’s latest song. The point of this message, then, is
that we need to separate music from
the social: we can criticize TWICE’s music and
still be decent, compassionate, loving human beings that support the ladies. (And
likewise, we can appreciate an artist’s musical works even if, for example, she
is very racist. Again we definitely need to challenge the social side of her,
but the music itself is its own context.)

In summary, for those who feel it is
unfair that TWICE is getting popular despite releasing weaker songs (and to
fans, notice that these “haters” are not just purely hating; there actually are
reasons for their bashing—though again, bashing is never permissible),
remember: it is just a song at the end of the day. So, for those against TWICE,
I do encourage criticizing their songs in a mature and intellectual manner (in
other words, explain why TWICE’s songs are “so bad” instead of just saying it)
but remember to not overextend that line. I can say “Cheer Up” is a bad song,
or more controversially, that Jihyo is a weaker main vocalist (not my personal
example, to clarify; it is one I am making up), but never can I ever be allowed to say Jihyo is a disgusting, shameful
and useless member—this has no relevancy to music and is attacking an artist
versus attacking her work.

All of this covered, and I do hope
TWICE fans spread the essence of that message: that TWICE can be supported and respected,
all while challenging their music. Besides that, though, we have another matter
to deal with: “TT.” Finally focusing on the review, I say with confidence that
TWICE’s song production is a bit more sophisticated this time and that “TT” is
by far the best song from the ladies. In fact, vocal improvements might even be
in place. However, the real question is whether “TT” is a strong song in
general. Sadly, in answer to that, I will use the song’s title: “TT”—in other
words, the emoticon for tears.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(4.75/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 4/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.67/10 raw score)

Introduction, Verse,
Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Conclusion (Chorus)

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 4/10

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Instrumental]

I’m in two minds
In an awkward situation
I just stare and say ba-ba-ba-baby
Every day I only imagine without asking
I talk casually and say your name, baby
But we don’t even know each other
Beautiful no matter what I wear
Just the two of us in the mirror having a
fashion show, show
This time for sure, I’ll be the first to talk, talk
But it’s only in my head, always only in my head

Na na na na na na na
I start humming and before I know it,
I feel like crying
I don’t feel like myself
This isn’t like me at all
I love you so much

Think I’m all grown up now
I’m free to make my own choices, but why
Why can’t I have it my way?
The more I try to push you away,
the more I’m drawn and attracted to you, baby
I’m like TT*
Just like TT
You don’t know how I feel
So mean, so mean
I’m like TT
Just like TT
Tell me that you’d be my baby

You say I’m ridiculous
That I don’t live up to my looks
Doesn’t cheer me up at all, ba-ba-ba-baby
I’m going crazy in all this mess
Why do I feel hungry?
I eat all day and am still hungry
Slap slap slap slap
the innocent doll
I sit and lie down all day
Time flies flies flies
What’s with the dull skin again
Keep wanting to just complain
Mom keeps bothering me, why why why why?

Na na na na na na na
I start humming and before I know it
I feel so irritated, I’m so upset
I’m normally not like this
I love you so much

Think I’m all grown up now
I’m free to make my own choices, but why
Why can’t I have it my way?
The more I try to push you away,
the more I’m drawn and attracted to you, baby
I’m like TT
Just like TT
You don’t know how I feel
So mean, so mean
I’m like TT
Just like TT
Tell me that you’d be my baby

Do you realize what’s going on inside me?
Don’t disappear from my view like this
This time for sure,
I’ll be the first to talk, talk
But it’s only in my head,
always only in my head

Think I’m all grown up now
I’m free to make my own choices, but why
Why can’t I have it my way?
The more I try to push you away,
the more I’m drawn and attracted to you baby
I’m like TT
Just like TT
You don’t know how I feel
So mean, so mean
I’m like TT
Just like TT
Tell me that you’d be my baby

*TT is in reference to the emoticon of crying and tears running down.

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
discussing the song itself, I forgot to mention another crucial reminder: that
catchiness, in my reviews and opinion, is an insufficient trait to justify as a
song’s strength. I bring up this point as admittedly “TT” is definitely one of
the catchiest songs I have heard. In a casual style of listening to music (such
as while exercising), “TT” indeed is very enjoyable due to its said catchiness.
However, as discussed in multiple reviews (refer to “Russian
Roulette”
and “Doo
Doom Chit”
) this trait will be something I overlook since we are going to
be critically engaging with—or better yet, actively
listening to—“TT.” At most, I will analyze how catchiness affects certain
aspects of the song, but readers should be aware that the fact that “TT” is
catchy is completely irrelevant in of itself. Finally onto the review itself,
while fans may not necessarily be satisfied at the overall rating being five
for average, fans should recall that “Like Ooh-Ahh” scored one rating less.

To
start, “TT” struggles with the same category that has been prevalent in all of
their title songs so far: vocals. Now to clarify, the extent of this is not
extreme; it is a four which indicates “slightly below average.” In an
overarching view, the vocals’ main drawback is the lack of diversity. Vocals do
not necessarily have to be utterly dynamic and possessing a multitude of styles
and forms, but in this song’s case of not having moments of noticeable changes,
appeal is greatly lost. From the verse to final chorus (conclusion), the vocals
per section are indistinguishable and possess a mundane sound after multiple playbacks.
I attribute this to how the vocals simply fail to deviate from one another
throughout: notice that there are minimal to no shifts in intensity, styles, or
even tune at times. For example—and to focus in a bit on a more individual
level—let us hone in on the choruses. While it is not a detriment for a chorus
to not be a high, upbeat, climactic point, the vocals in this section are
hardly established as unique when juxtaposed to the verse and pre-chorus. The
pacing, for example, remains roughly the same, and intriguingly the vocals’
tune do not become more complex than the verses’ vocal tunes. Now obviously
there are changes in tune as one may point out, but I am referring to how if we
draw ourselves back away: doing so reveals that, for the most part, the vocals
are in fact quite linear and all sound akin. In certain songs, this linear
vocal form can very much be the core strength of a song’s vocals, but as we
will discuss with the instrumental, this song does not appear to accommodate
this form and hence why the vocals are rated lower.

With
mentioning the instrumental, this category scored at a six and rightly so: it
is decent and augments the song in many ways. Sonically, the heavier bass
covers pitches that the vocals otherwise do not cover given their static, stale
nature. Structurally, the instrumental covers usual points well such as transitions
or aiding in making transparent the song’s crescendos (the “build up”) and decrescendos
(the “build down” or “relaxing”). Returning to the earlier point with the
vocals, however, although the instrumental covers for the vocals’ lacking
points, as said there is a paradox here. Because the instrumental delivers its
own linear flow but on lower notes in comparison to the vocals, while in
certain cases this dual similarity is beneficial, in “TT” it is arguably this
syncing that creates the dullness in the vocals. Given the deeper sounds of the
instrumental and its lack of higher pitched instrument sounds, the vocals
should then adopt that role of being dynamic to help compensate—but that does
not occur. Instead, the vocals follow a similar flow to the instrumental,
though on higher pitches. The result? “TT” moves in a straight fashion with
minimal changes throughout, and while the rhythm is certainly catchy, this
creates an overly stale song that, perhaps best said, sounds “stuck.”

Bearing
in mind the prior point, rather than blaming the instrumental itself on the
conflicts between the vocals and said instrumental, the true culprits to blame
are the sections. Since we have covered the sections’ faults in a more
overarching view, let us now focus in on individual ones. As seen by the
ratings, the song employs many average structures and techniques, and with some
in specific, the song actually falters with execution. Specifically with the
choruses and pre-choruses for example, in addition to once again the excessive
staleness that occurs from combining the vocals and instrumental, these
sections have some extra problems. The choruses’ second half’s pauses, for one,
may add some dynamic to the song’s plainer flow, but the problem here is the
vocals become additionally more dull as a result. Similarly, the pre-choruses
may be functional in transitioning the song—though admittedly the method is
already quite standard—but when it comes to the vocals, there is a sacrifice:
the vocals bounce back and forth like the instrumental, but doing so drains
away the vocals’ tunes and in place leaves lifeless, hollow vocal sounds.

Miraculously,
however, “TT” does still render averagely and that is agreeably with.
Essentially, “TT” is a song that is composed using very traditional pop forms
but that its downfall is in a slightly weaker execution with those forms. But,
overall, “TT” does mostly come away as an average pop song: catchy and fun, but
lacking complexity and more strenuous, impressive execution and composition.

_______________________________________________________

My
one week break ended, sadly, and today is the first day of classes once again.
That said, I do apologize for failing to truly catch up on reviews. I plan to
finish this month out with SHINee’s “1 of 1” and Hyuna’s “How’s This?” (and the
social discussion within that review). For the beginning of November, I plan to
review Apink’s “Only One” as this song is a solid example of how “active
listening” can change a song from being supposedly weak to being actually quite
impressive. (And indeed, I will have a digression on what it means to be an
active listener of music and on how to actually begin doing so.)

With
this review, while it was planned to be my Halloween special review, we will
consider this an early one. Regardless, I hope the review proves insightful and
engaging, and that the Personal Message would relate to many fans—and anti-fans—of
TWICE. As always thank you for reading or skimming, and “You don’t know how I
feel” when it comes to that so thank you very much. Look forward to the
upcoming reviews.