Twice Comeback Review: “Knock Knock”

It’s amazing how far Twice has come in such a short time.  They’ve accomplished so much in a year and a half!  2016 was very good to them, and it seems that 2017 will be no different. In the space of its short promotion, “Knock Knock” has topped the charts, gone head to head with BTS for Youtube records, and snagged some music show wins to boot. It looks like the “TWICEcoaster” has no chance of slowing down.

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*WARNING!* This review assumes the reader has listened to the music and/or seen the music video!

Concept: Girly, bright, and refreshing. A lot of people say Twice is a cute concept group, but I wouldn’t necessarily agree.  I believe that cute concepts appeal very specifically to certain demographics, while I think that Twice is more accessible to many different types of fans.

SONG:

Music: Lee Woo-min (‘collapsedone’), Mayu Wakisaka

Arrangement: Lee Woo-min

“Knock Knock” is definitely an earworm.  It will get stuck in your head for days.  It fits the basic formula of everything you need for a hit pop song. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much I actually like it.  “Like Ooh-Ahh” was the only “Twice” song that I really liked on the first listen. Their other title tracks did take me a while to get used to.  However, with each comeback it seems like it takes longer for me to decide that I’m into it.  Like I said with Red Velvet and “Rookie,” there are songs that you naturally like and there are ones that you like because they stay with you until they have no choice.  I’m pretty sure it’s the latter for me.

I’ve seen a couple of Tumblr threads discussing “Knock Knock,” and I noticed something interesting.  It appears that a lot of Onces or people who like Twice in general weren’t that into the song, or at least they prefer others over it.  However, there were a lot of people who weren’t fans of Twice who said that it was the first song of theirs that they liked. In my opinion, this is because “Knock Knock” doesn’t sound like a typical Twice song.

Yes, Twice are basically known for bubblegum pop songs that are fun, catchy, and cute. Yes, “Knock Knock” has all of those qualities.  However, Twice has developed a signature sound over the past year and a half.  Maybe it’s because they didn’t collaborate with Black Eyed Pilseung this time, but it feels like this song lacks Twice’s distinct charms.  While the music video and choreography shows off their personality, the song conveys none of it.  It’s very repetitive and one-dimensional.

I’m not saying that “Knock Knock” is a bad song at all, despite my personal preferences. It’s well constructed, it has a nice progression and flow, and it’s fun and easy to sing along to.  My issue with is that there is nothing distinctive or original about it.  Pretty much any other girl group in the same generation could have sang this song.  Lovelyz, Sonamoo, Oh My Girl, Laboum, WJSN, Gugudan…even major competitors Red Velvet and Gfriend could have pulled it off with a couple of tweaks.  A mega girl group like Twice to have a generic song?  It seems like there’s a little laziness on JYP’s part.

SCORE: 13/20

LYRICS:

Lyrics: Lee Woo-min (‘collapsedone’)

I think that part of the reason why Twice has become so successful is that they sing about pretty relatable romantic situations.  Many girls have been in the same spot, and many boys will enjoy pretending to be the object of Twice’s affections.  I looked at the lyrics for all four of their title tracks, and I find it kind of funny how the level of confidence drops with each song.  In “Like Ooh-Ahh,” the singer is sure that she’s hot stuff and she’s holding out for someone who can really wow her.  In “Cheer Up,” she toys with the boy’s affections and plays hard to get because she can’t make it too easy (or she’s just really enjoying watching him sweat).  In “TT,” she’s overwhelmed by a first crush and feels terrible because he either doesn’t know or doesn’t return her feelings.  And in “Knock Knock” she’s completely passive, wishing that someone will come to her and melt her heart. A door as a metaphor for a heart is a pretty common trope, but it’s an effective one.  It creates a lot of fun imagery without being too heavy-handed, which fits in well with Twice’s light and breezy image.

There’s definitely a sense of push and pull going on in this song.   Unlike some of their other title tracks, I don’t think there’s a specific person that they’re singing to.  I think it’s more about wanting someone to share those feelings with, but being nervous and hard to get because of lack of experience.  There are two contrasting feelings: the excitement of potentially falling in love vs. the fear of giving yourself completely when you do.  My favorite line is in the bridge, where the girls finally admit that their frozen heart has melted like ice cream.  All in all it’s a situation many of us can relate to, but I wish that some of the lyrics could have been a little clearer.

SCORE: 7/10

LINE DISTRIBUTION:

The line distribution isn’t exactly even.  In fact, when you look at the video it actually ends up pretty similar to their other title tracks.  Each member still gets about the same amount of lines that they normally do, with Jihyo and Nayeon benefiting the most. However, this time around they shuffle through the members constantly.  For example, a different member sings every line or half-line in the first verse.  Though it turns out that most of them have a small amount of lines, they’re well spread out so it looks like the attention is evenly divided between all of the members.

To be clear, when I say “even line distribution” I do NOT mean one where everyone gets the same amount of lines.  I mean one that is appropriate based on the members of the group and their abilities.  For me it’s more about how much exposure each member gets, rather than how many seconds they get. You can’t expect a song to be equally split between nine members, but you can expect that each member should be properly showcased according to their roles.  There is absolutely no reason for someone to stand at the back and only have one line when the company is pouring so much money into them being there.  There are almost always things to work on when it comes to line distribution, but “Knock Knock” does a good job of evenly dividing the attention between all of the members.

It’s nice to see that there are some girls who got more lines this time around. I still think Jungyeon needs more lines if they’re really going to label her a lead vocal, but she’s close enough to Mina.  Momo got more lines and got to sing part of the chorus, which is really nice because Twice doesn’t really have any dance breaks for her to center anymore. And Sana finally can sing some real lines without being reduced into a trendy meme.

SCORE: 8/10

CHOREOGRAPHY:

One of Twice’s strengths is their choreography.  It’s admittedly on the simpler side compared to rivals like Red Velvet, Gfriend, or Blackpink. But it’s always fun and memorable.  I know all of the Twice dances, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they upped the level of difficulty for this one.  I was worried that their choreography was getting simpler with every comeback, but this requires a little bit of work.  I especially like the key point of the dance. It’s very fast and extremely precise. It takes a lot of practice to match that staccato rhythm, and it’s harder than it looks.

Point-choreography

Part of the reason why Twice’s choreography is so fun is that it shows off all of the members’ individual charms.  I’ve noticed that different parts will suit the member who’s singing.  For example, Mina tends to have more sexy choreography these days.  And ever since “shy shy shy” took off, Sana gets cutesy stuff.  Although there’s a little too much filler and aegyo in this routine for my personal tastes, I still think that it’s one of their best.  All of the knocking is super cute too.

Knock-knock-knock

SCORE: 17/20

CENTER AND FORMATIONS:

The music video has gotten a lot of attention for some of its stop motion work, and the dance imitates that to some degree.  I really like the opening where Momo and Mina shuffle all of the members around in a formation.  (Tzuyu in the middle is great too) I’ve personally always had trouble with choreography that had little feet movements, so I was really impressed by how they do it so easily.

Opening-Dance

Twice has always relied on a lot of different formations and member interactions in their choreography.  Sometimes I thought that they didn’t really make sense (like in “Like Ooh-Ahh”), but here everything fits into the metaphor of knocking on doors .  I think that the girls making windows for the others to look out of is super cute.

The-Door

Unlike some groups, Twice doesn’t show off their dancers in their choreography. They have a habit of putting the vocals in the center and then supporting them with a dance line member on each side.  This still holds true in “Knock Knock,” with Nayeon and Jihyo primarily centering the choruses. However, there are some other members who get some more time in the middle.  Jungyeon usually gets the last chorus in their title tracks anyway, but it was nice to see her get a little more attention.  And it was a delightful surprise to see Sana and Chaeyoung center different key sections.  I still think it’s super weird that they don’t put Momo in the center anymore, but it’s nice to see that there are other people besides Nayeon and Jihyo.

SCORE: 7/10

MUSIC VIDEO:

One technical aspect of this music video that I really liked was the stop motion effect.  I was actually getting a little tired of all of the cosplay stuff, even though it was fun.  I just wanted them to do something else, and stop motion is a fun gimmick.  Although it took a few watches for my eyes to get used to it (like I.O.I’s “Very Very Very”), it actually matches the music perfectly.  They kind of dropped the idea halfway through in favor of the story, and I wish that they had put in more of it. It gives the song a little more dimension, which you don’t necessarily get if you listen to it on its own.

Intro

Although I was over the cosplay idea, I think a big part of why it was successful was that it showed off each girl’s personality.  This has been a theme that’s running through all of their music videos, and I attribute it to part of their success.  Although the costumes are gone, they give us interesting individual shots of the members.  These shots are a split screen of the girls in three different outfits against three different backgrounds.  It allows us to see different sides of each girl, and it’s a fun replacement for the costumes.

Mina

As we all know, there’s a connection between “Knock Knock” and “TT.” It turns out that “Knock Knock” is a prequel.  Basically, the girls are having a slumber party when someone leaves them a book named Twicecoaster.  (It could have been JYP, who makes a cameo) When they look at the book, they discover that it’s filled with drawings of the characters that they dressed up as in “TT.” They get distracted by the snow and go out to play, but the door locks on them.  Then according to some like Dream Teller and Seoul Beats, Twice freezes to death and become ghosts dressed like the drawings, the last thing that they saw.

Locked-Out

Honestly, the idea that they died and were ghosts in “TT” is a bit morbid for their concept. For me, it’s kind of like when I read that article about conspiracy theories at Disney Parks.  You don’t associate something as happy as Disney with stuff so tragic and/or creepy, and it just feels unsettling.  That’s a much more drastic example, but I don’t think that Twice died. Especially since there’s never really any indication of anything so dismal in any of their other music videos (unless you count the zombies in “Like Ooh-Ahh”). Given that the book glows once they get locked out, my theory is that there’s some magic afoot that transforms them into those characters.

The-Book

It’s clear that JYP (the company, not the man) put a lot of thought into this idea, because the music at the end of “TT” turned out to be the intro for “Knock Knock.” There’s a clear and distinct connection, so I’m a little surprised with all of the continuity errors and lack of explanation on some things. What’s with the time loop idea? The kids are surprised at the end of “TT,” but it turns out that they’re seeing themselves?  Why are the houses in the two music video not the same one?

Truthfully, it’s not really necessary to know the answers to those questions in order to enjoy the music video.  I wasn’t even thinking about any of that when I watched it the first couple of times.  It’s just that the film school girl in me finds all of those discrepancies sloppy. Not everything has to be a cryptic story video, guys! I’m already confused as heck with Got7 and the plane crash story. Twice is really at their best when they’re just goofing off and having fun, so I’m going to focus on that.

Tzuyu.gif

SCORE: 15/20

STYLING:

Twice is always super fashionable and on point with their styling.  They take a lot of care in making each member look unique.  And as a bonus, they’re actually pretty age appropriate. I really love a lot of the outfits, and I want to add some of them to my closet. I especially like the white outfits with red writing on them, as well as Nayeon’s red and black dress and Chaeyoung’s striped dress.

I also think that their hair looks really nice this time around.  They always have a good balance of girls who look more natural and girls who have more dramatic hair colors. Jungyeon looks great with short hair, but this length is perfect on her.  I love how she puts some of it in little buns on her head. I also like Chaeyoung’s bob and Mina’s waves.

STYLING MVP: Sana.  I was so close to choosing my bias Mina, but let’s face it – “Knock Knock” was made for Sana.

sana-knock-knock

SCORE: 9/10

FINAL TALLY:

Song – 13

Lyrics – 7

Line Distribution – 8

Choreography –  16

Center and Formations – 7

Music Video – 15

Styling – 9

TOTAL: 75

CONCLUSION: I actually gave this a higher score than I thought I would, given my initial visceral reaction to the song (which was not good).  I guess that I’ve grown a little fonder of it as I’ve been writing this review. I don’t hate it, but I think it’s mediocre and that’s exactly the problem.  A girl group at Twice’s level shouldn’t be delivering anything mediocre.

I’ve been seeing a lot of Twice hate on Tumblr lately. Here’s my theory about why that is (besides the fact that any big group automatically gains a bunch of haters).  Twice became mega popular in a really short amount of time, and you could argue that they’re lacking in several key areas.  Their work is very one-note and doesn’t really showcase their vocal or dance skills.  It does show off their charm, but it’s really always the same charm.  So what accounts for Twice rocketing to the top in under two years? At this point in time, their biggest strengths lie in everything tied into their looks: fun music videos, styles, promoting the various members fairly equally, and of course their visuals. I believe haters don’t like that Twice is so popular for things that are generally considered more shallow and superficial, since we’re talking an industry that should be about the music.

I’m not saying that their popularity is undeserved.  In fact, I think that any group who has managed to gain so many fans deserves respect.  Making a large amount of people want to devote significant amounts of time and money to help you become successful is a skill in itself and should be acknowledged, whether it’s music and performance related or visual and personality related.  But I admit that it is a little baffling how they are so popular.

I feel like I’m saying a lot of negative things about Twice, but the truth is that I really like them.  They’re not my favorite group, but I get really hyped for their comebacks and I do buy their albums.  Although I do believe that they’re lacking, I don’t think they’re untalented.  They have a lot of potential and JYP is not giving them the material that they need to really shine.  I feel like I’m one of those coaches on survival shows like Produce 101 or Sixteen.  I’m being harsh, but I’m doing it because I want them to be their best.

There is literally no fear of anything bad happening to Twice unless there’s a scandal – but even that probably won’t slow them down.  They have a massive fan base both in Korea and internationally.  They’re making so much money and they’re smashing charts and Youtube view records left and right. If anything, this should be a time when they can experiment with their sound and try new things without fear.  Or at the very least, they should toy around with ways to keep their concept fresh and interesting.  Instead, “Knock Knock” is so underwhelming and generic that it makes me feel like the company is resting on their laurels. They know that fans will eat up whatever they release, so they just stick with what works and don’t try anything new.

I’ve been waiting for some time for Twice to come barreling out of the gate and wow me with something unexpected. Every time I get another cute video, I get more and more frustrated.  Yes, I know they’re charming. Yes, I know they’re pretty.  Yes, I know that their songs are catchy.  But I want something else! It’s abundantly clear that the K-pop industry does not always have to be about the music, but in Twice’s case I wish it were.  I will always sing along with their songs and dance their choreography, but I’m still waiting for the day when they will truly bowl me over.

Sources: Youtube, JYP Entertainment, Wikipedia, Seoul Beats, Buzzfeed, Koreaboo

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2 thoughts on “Twice Comeback Review: “Knock Knock”

  1. emberkitty says:

    Hey! Just wanted to say that I couldn’t agree more with your review. I’ve been struggling with my opinion on Twice, because I’ve got Twice trash friends but while I really enjoyed Ooh Ahh, my excitement has plateaued and died for this group. It bewilders me that they are this popular, though like you say, it’s not that I think they should all die or deserve nothing or anything. You pretty much nail all the good and bad in Twice in this review, and I’m very glad that I can see I’m not alone in being “not a hater but not yet thrilled”. Hopefully, these girls will grow!

    Like

    • katherinemoly says:

      Hi! Thanks so much for your nice, comment, and thanks for reading my review! I had a harder time writing this one because I was worried about striking that balance between liking a group and recognizing what needs work. I really do like Twice, so I didn’t want to come off like a crab or a hater. So I’m glad that came across, and I’m extra glad that there’s someone who agrees!

      Like

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