Over the last few years, TWICE have gone through a process of refining their sound, smoothing out the cute cheer of their early releases in favour of cooler and slicker songs. It’s a move that’s worked out well for them, bringing them the irresistible likes of ‘Fancy’ and ‘Feel Special’. On their first official English single ‘The Feels’, they meld the two sides of their character together to leave something bright and bubbly, but with that more mature edge that’s coloured their recent work.
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“When I first heard [‘The Feels’], I thought that it really reflects who we are and that it suits us,” Momo said in a YouTube video dubbed “Pre-Feels”, and she’s not wrong. Just because latter-day TWICE sound more grown up doesn’t mean they don’t encapsulate the giddier aspects of being alive in their music – something this track proves by capturing the fizzing feelings of falling head over heels for someone. “You have stolen my heart, oh yeah / Never let it go-oh-oh,” Jeongyeon and Nayeon illustrate on the chorus before Jihyo describes the sensation as: “Lightning straight to my heart, oh yeah.”
“Boy I, boy I, boy I know / I know I got the feels,” the girl group sing on one of the most instantly infectious refrains of the year. It’s fun and a little silly – no time for pining in the nine-member group’s world – turning the swooning feeling of having a crush into a bolt of brilliant boldness. “Catching feels like butterflies / If I say what’s on my mind / Would I hit the bullseye?” Sana asks, a line that feels more like a challenge to her desired partner than a nervous question.
“The message is: ‘Don’t hide your feelings – follow your feels when you like someone,’” Chaeyoung explained in that same “Pre-Feels” video. “So the song is really happy and confidence-boosting.” TWICE’s supremely self-assured delivery coupled with joyous handclaps, shining synths and the syncopated rhythms that instantly transport you to the heart of the dancefloor, glistening beneath a giant mirror ball, do that job admirably, effortlessly adding some zip and zing to your heart with every listen.
Things reach their most vibrant peak in ‘The Feels’’ second verse, with Chaeyoung and Dahyun giving a one-two punch of the song’s most frivolous lines. “’Cause you got me good and I wanna be your boo / If it’s dumb, well, I wanna be a fool,” Chaeyoung raps excitedly first, her bandmate gleefully following: “Underneath the neon lights, baby / Electricity tonight, baby.”
With the continued rise of K-pop in the West, putting out English-language songs has become almost as common a practice as Japanese releases in the industry. Just take a look at boybands like BTS and MONSTA X, who have scored their biggest successes abroad with those records. If the aim of this release is to garner the attention TWICE deserve on the global stage, then their mission should hopefully be accomplished with ‘The Feels’. It’s an undeniable bop that feels primed to serve as a gateway to lure more pop fans down the TWICE rabbit hole, one earworm lyric at a time.