Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Twice – Signal

A… green light, perhaps…?


Ryo Miyauchi: While “Signal” clocks in as Twice’s fifth attempt to get their clueless crushes to notice them, JYP counters the group’s previous chain of bubbly anthems by bringing a more subdued synth sound to the table. “Different” is not necessarily “better” here, though; without a lively sound to attach their cheery attitude, Twice appear a little too bare.

Alfred Soto: The do-do-dos and deety-deeties are my kinds of signals: a chewy center in a hard crust. The spareness of the arrangement helps too.

Thomas Inskeep: I’ve come to expect K-pop to be forward-thinking, and “Signal,” sadly, sounds like it’s from the TRL era. It’s a bit too cutesy and a bit too dull. 

Nortey Dowuona: Well, it isn’t a complete ripoff; it’s just unoriginal and flat, the beat is somewhere else, the synths are thick and obtrusive, the singing is tuned badly and the HEYS ARE FLIPPIN’ UNINSPIRED.

Lilly Gray: I love Twice so it truly pains me to say that this could effectively be used in sleep deprivation cells to torment enemy operatives.

David Sheffieck: The melodic bassline at the center of the production does its best, but it’s ultimately overpowered by the occasionally shrill vocals and the heavily processed handclaps. An example of a song trying to do too much with too little, redeemed somewhat by a decent hook and a lighter touch on the bridge that serves to highlight where the rest of the song falls short.

Will Rivitz: What I love most about PC Music and related artists is their no-holds-barred bombast. Everything my favorite artists of the moment make is loud, blinding, and obnoxious, every opportunity for glitz and gaudiness seized. “Signal” kind of gestures towards that clamor with its pounding 808s and J-pop synths, but it’s too restrained to capture the same joy. It’s a Pop Art canvas with a matte finish instead of a glossy one, a watered-down shot of vodka in a club that will file for bankruptcy in four months. Twice’s music is usually exuberant; this one’s a simulacrum of that feeling, not the real thing.

Micha Cavaseno: As established elsewhere regarding Twice, a song entirely about saying things without saying things is totally in their wheelhouse. You’d think the arrival of JYP behind the boards to guide his newest act to overrun the game might signal a noticeable change but… it isn’t?!? Production-wise the swing beat after the intro build is maybe the most boring aspect, but elsewhere on the song you’ve got weird synth washes and that super strange vocal filter at the end of Jungyeon’s parts. But then to go into that ritzy chorus is typical Twice exuding their usual forms of cringey “cute.” But again, beneath the surface Twice still feel like a realm of emotional clenching. Nobody talks to one another in Twice songs, and when they do display emotion it’s usually skirted away at as unseemly behavior. Just why is a group that’s so perky and overloaded also feel overwrought and obsessed with containing oneself?

Kalani Leblanc: You’d think that you could expect Twice’s first JYP produced title to be good, but “Signal” tells you to stop expecting anything from them. Maybe Jinyoung did have acts like Wonder Girls and Miss A, but they did have their fair share of bad vocalists between them. No matter how bad Twice’s predecessors were, Mr. Asian Soul must have been appalled listening to every one of these girls belt out their best “Signeul bonae.” K-pop songs aren’t ever reliant on good vocalists, but Twice continue to comfortably push the boundaries. I mean, it does grow on you… Too bad thats code for “This song is bad but you have to have low standards like me to enjoy it.”

Mo Kim: My theory about Twice’s name is that it usually takes about two listens before they Stockholm Syndrome you into admitting you like the hook, and then maybe the part that comes right before the hook, and then before you know it…every part of the song is stuck in your head. EVERY PART. The way Dahyun and Chaeyoung spit SHINE-EUL BONAE, SHIG-NAL BONAE, like they’re trying to hack up the cauliflower stuck in their throat. Momo and Mina’s “rapping.” The part where Jihyo and Nayeon ape IOI’s “Very Very Very,” another recent JYP production. And still, there’s no denying this is an earworm through and through. Like space invaders, Twice deliver hooks and sounds that feel alien at first yet draw you closer with each listen; “Signal” continues their fine streak of unrequited love songs that, somehow, get me to like them back.

Reader average: [7.18] (16 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

39 Responses to “Twice – Signal”


    But yeah at least it’s not “Knock Knock”

  2. I so rarely have an opinion strong enough to comment about it but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WAS THE LIFELESS INTRO NOT ENOUGH?! DO YOU LOVE BLAND PAIN


    No I didn’t love “Dumb Dumb” by Red Velvet

  4. Max, I will defend your right to be contrarian about Twice to the death, but I will take BILLIE JEANIE ANIYA WON’T YOU LEAVE ME ALONE any number of times over this.

    And furthermore, Knock Knock > Like Ooh-Ahh > TT > the live cover of Overdose > Signal > Cheer Up.

  5. Twice gets robbed here every single time for real. If people want less of this and more of “Jam Jam” then I don’t even know.

  6. why_not_both.gif

  7. I’m just here to endorse Jessica’s Twice ranking

  8. It should be TT >> Cheer Up >> Signal >> Like OOH-AHH >> Knock Knock but that’s neither here nor there. Me and Joshua will prove to be on the side of truth in the end.

  9. The only other potential valid ranking criterion is Are Dahyun and Chaeyoung Appearing to Have Any Fun, which pushes TT / Cheer Up / Like Ooh-Ahh ahead of Knock Knock, but Signal *still* underachieves.

  10. The cupcakke remix is everything though – https://youtu.be/UzXNv37yn8E

  11. I actually agree with Maxwell’s ranking except I’d put several more arrows between Like OOH-AHH and Knock Knock for good measure. When I saw that netizens were complaining about the quality of Signal I was a bit baffled. Knock Knock is the only Twice song where their deadpan-ness was a huge miss for me. It brought back memories of cutesy shlock a la She’z UU or something. The sort of thing where you’re wondering if the members are suffering as they sing.

    I know the big complaint about Signal is the Sign/Signal bit (which I understand, and somewhat agree with) but it’s not as egregious as an uncreative dubstep breakdown or, to keep things recent, BTS singing “mahni, mahni, mahni” over trop pop… *runs*

  12. I liked TT so much that I felt all 5 of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief hearing this–usually at first blush some Twice gigs take the hook to get me, well, hooked, but the vocals, the odd “trying to let you know” delivery and just the sound overall had me bailing immediately the first few times i tried it.

    re: BLAND
    for me this is all of Infinite :x

  13. Including The Chaser?

  14. I’m just here to say Jessica’s comment about Dumb Dumb made me snort out loud. Amazing.

  15. I mean I love our staff, but some of us mistake GFriend as good and thought “4 Walls” was a solid album and not a desperate plea to be cool on the internet so you learn to love past bad opinions.

  16. Given that you publicly threw over Galaxy for TT, Max, I’m guessing you’re familiar with this whole “desperate plea to be cool on the Internet” thing

  17. Galaxy and TT are the best singles by their respective artists so it’s all good for me.

    In my mind, TT is also phenomenal because of its extramusical elements: a memorable video, killer costuming (I hope we all check the K-Style Files blog here) and choreography that extends beyond meme-ability (done by Lia Kim, who is my favorite 1Million Dance Studio choreographer. She’s been working with Twice since the beginning and also did BoA’s Fox and Sunmi’s 24 Hours). I would do the TT hand motion/head shake bit for fun for weeks after release. It’s way more amusing and, uh, not awkward/dumb like the gwiyomi thing everyone was doing 4 years ago.

    4 Walls the album is fine, about as solid as Pink Tape and Red Light (both of which are insanely overrated). Dig the song a lot though and consider it one of the very best LDN Noise productions. GFriend? I don’t know, I prefer Lovelyz.

  18. Joshua’s willingness to find rationale in me is endearing, everyone should make sure this one sticks around :)

    @Jessica; “TT” is amazing because it never sounds like how viciously depressive it is, “Galaxy” is incredibly such but conveys it perfectly. “Galaxy” is everything I know I want, “TT” is everything I never knew I could want.

  19. gfriend is better and well that’s that

  20. @Jessica I thought I knew what the Chaser was, but I was thinking of a U-Kiss song

  21. Infinite’s discography is The Chaser and a whole lot of me thinking “Man, I wish this was The Chaser” barring very, very few exceptions. So yea, with Lilly there.

    Not sure I’d go to bat for Lovelyz but their partnership with the OnePiece production team made them sound relatively fresh when they debuted (e.g. Candy Jelly Love, Farewell Chapter 1, Secret Journey). Their recent (repackage) album had some surprisingly great songs too.

    GFriend are fine! I’m cool with anyone thinking they’re awesome. I just find most of their singles good not great.

  22. Well, now that we’re having an actual discussion and the #NavilleraProtectionSquad has shown up and I have failed utterly in being a wannabe Tara to Max’s Max (Tara, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re doing well and I send you love):

    Lovelyz didn’t do anything for me until “WoW!” I also don’t love the way Woollim apparently actively discourages them from sounding individually distinctive. But I generally favor distinctive voices over more harmonious ones (hence my AoA bias is Jimin, and I bristled when Kalani referred to “that thing Hyuna refers to as ‘her voice'”).

    I do wonder if those of us who didn’t grow up with exposure to how elementary and secondary school works in Asia tend to penalize groups that show up in school uniforms and/or market themselves as more “innocent” (GFriend, Lovelyz, [I’ll be the first to admit I don’t follow] April, APink, pre-“Hobgoblin” CLC) and upvote groups whose self-presentation is more in line with what we expect from Western girl groups (f(x), post-“Gee” SNSD, Mamamoo, 4Minute, 2NE1, Red Velvet).

    AS FOR INFINITE I need to redo my Infinite force-rank but suffice to say “The Chaser” will always be #1.

  23. I would say that GFriend’s issue for me was not the school/innocence packaging [And Frankly I feel TWICE end up more in this camp a la GFriend, Lovelyz etc. than the others? At least from non-OoohAhhh vids) but rather their early singles tended to a weirdly… a pop that didn’t feel danceable but also didn’t feel musical. This generic, pastoral, wistful simulation sound. And that description sounds thrilling but being in that zone is very Not Engaging for me? Even their attempts out of that have fallen short for my taste but hey.

    Then again people fall hook/line/sinker for BLACKPINK who are burdened with being borne out of 2NE1’s failure that they can’t help but be smothered in WE’RE GONNA EMBODIFY WESTERN COOL and I’m not a fan there as a result of that and other aspects.

  24. Max, much tho I’m here for dragging BLACKPINK until they stop cosplaying 2NE1 & do something really worthwhile with a whistle beat, 4 WALLS was a fine album and you’re just afraid of being loved.

    Also, hi Jessica, thank you!

  25. The first two BLACKPINK singles are well made and Rose sliding on the floor is an indelible image, especially for a debut. Whistle is definitely great because it’s basically a smoother Bae Bae. I’d definitely take it over a handful of 2NE1 tracks (that Falling in Love, Do You Love Me, and Missing You stretch especially). The other two singles might as well not exist though. I very much hope that we aren’t disliking BLACKPINK but liking CLC’s new direction…

  26. I think Boombaya would be my favorite dace track–as Joshua (Josh?! When does one take off the ua) says, that floor slide is killer and the loud, round club siren chorus is appealing rather than making me regret my locker deposit–if it weren’t for the horrendous war-whoop noise and gesture that I personally find so gross and offputting that it soured the song for me.
    I think I tend to lean towards girl groups that I see debut with really energetic singles that are strongly coreo heavy. That being said, I didn’t see GFriend debut (also something I should consider for myself: I see girl groups as being so Not Marketed For Me that even when I have a crush or get into one, I feel like an outsider, but that’s my own luggage obvi) but I love Fingertip, with it’s Back to the Future vibes and tan-tan-tan chorus.

  27. @lilly Glass Bead was accused with basically copping entirely off of SNSD’s Into The New World which … isn’t entirely unfair but I think that kind of concept ended up being weirdly refreshing when it happened like, 8 years later.

    Fingertip was the only GFriend single I really liked on though.

    And more relevant to this overall discussion, Black Eyed Pilseung is a straight up god (although it’s not like JYP can’t produce good songs … I mean I like Signal a lot but Very Very Very is several steps above it so IDEK what happened here it’s not like anyone can say he’s lost his touch.)

  28. Errr *the only Gfriend single I really liked on first listen.

  29. Well, Into The New World did its darndest to brand SNSD as the next coming of SES, so…(and Kara explicitly debuted by comparing themselves to Finkl, so)

  30. There’s so many “so”s here that I’m not really sure what you’re implying.

  31. @lilly, either Joshua or Josh is fine. Agree that the war whoop is egregious but I still think the song pretty much gets everything right as far as being a solid 2NE1 ripoff is concerned (unlike my aforementioned CLC/4Minute example)

    @Anna, Can’t speak for AG but I imagine they were sort of implying that Glass Bead was accused of being an early SNSD ripoff because it was probably their label’s intention to be an updated version of that. Not an uncommon thing in K-pop, as AG mentioned with their examples (or like with 2NE1 being the female BIGBANG)

  32. @Anna: Joshua is pretty much right, and I was somewhat agreeing with you, as well. It doesn’t seem like Kpop finds it a bad thing to posit groups as more than just spiritual successors to former heavy hitters.
    But also that particular type of music, as Maxwell put it, “This generic, pastoral, wistful simulation sound,” seems to be fundamental to Korean idol pop, so it’s likely that every Kpop generation will have some girlgroups bringing it back.

  33. blasphemy. a 9

  34. @inskeep one of the most forward-thinking pop singles of the year, btw

  35. and jesus christ these comments 0_0

  36. It’s a great song and somewhat forward thinking, sure, but it’s also pretty familiar. Sounds more unique in the context of K-pop this year if anything. I’m personally more enamored by Three Times a Day on the mini. It’s like if Dip In A Pool were asked to recreate “On Retinae” as a contemporary chart hit, dancehall beat and all.

  37. so, like, I’ve been listening to the Japanese version non-stop since it came out and, uh, I would bump my score by 1 if I could. it’s… better than I thought. this is my contribution to this fun thread. ok bye.

  38. @AG this is so late but I wasn’t even meaning for it to be derogatory lol, I just wasn’t sure what you meant! All is good.

    … Also these comments really did get messy huh. I sure do hope you guys cover BlackPink’s latest because I think it’s even more of an aggressive 2NE1 cosplay than anything they’ve been doing up to this, lol (sorry Tara)

  39. @jakob: early on I heard a remix (not the Cupcakke one) that greatly shrank the Dahyun/Chaeyoung intro and shoved it and the Mina/Momo rap to later in the song. And putting the verses and choruses up front made them sound a lot more conventional, to my ear. (He also faded out on the “do-de-root-doo-do” part.)

    Also I listened to “Jelly Jelly” tonight and I think it actually illustrates Max’s Grand Unified Theory of Twice’s Emotional Constipation better than “Signal” does.