Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Twice – Likey

Title checks out.


Jessica Doyle: At first listen “Likey” seems underwhelming by Twice standards, as even applying the full force of Sana to “me likey, me likey likey likey” doesn’t result in a skull piercing along the lines of “neomu hae, neomu hae” or “kung, kung” or even “sign-EUL BONAE, sig-NEUL BONAE.” (The closest we get is Momo pouting about BB cream and lipstick, and she’s immediately followed by a more conciliatory Tzuyu.) Lyrically it could even be read as a continuation of “TT,” the members painting themselves as emotional messes at the mercy of the listener. The difference is in the potential for an alternate reading: Twice as emotional messes at the mercy of the audience, Twice given the opportunity to acknowledge the constant mental-health assault that is idol life. Everything feels like a careful signal (…bonae), from Jihyo as leader holding the camera and talking about the small screen, to the tourist-pristine presentation of Vancouver in the background, to Dahyun’s brief trap interlude, to the slouchier outfits of the dance-practice video. “Likey” doesn’t have to be Twice’s catchiest or most distinctive single when it can be Twice’s smartest.

Alfred Soto: A haiku of romantic need, “Likey” recalls prime Stock-Aiken-Waterman in its concentration: boom boom boom it goes, its breathy vocals and hint of woodblock percussion leading the charge, until this time it knows it’s for real.

Iain Mew: “Likey” is another proof for the interpretation that made me love “Cheer Up” — that it was a demonstration of what happens when you play along with a role with such absolute conviction that real emotions and portrayed emotions begin to blur. In “Likey” the same theme is both more heartbreakingly explicit lyrically, and present again in the music. There’s no fixed-grin mega-chorus this time, but bursts of a buoyant, colourful twist on the K-pop-house wave. Each chorus plays out like a perfectly presented social media life, splashing across all the complexities and effort they sing about going on outside of it. 

Katie Gill: I’m a sucker for Twice. They’re a group that knows how to have fun, which shines through in their performances and sound, and I’m always here for their bright bubbly bubblegum pop. Add in those fun synths and an amazingly fun prechorus/rap break, and you’ve got a song that’s tailor-made for me to fall in love with it. I just wish that they didn’t hang the chorus on such an awkward phrase as “me likey.”

Mo Kim: “Like is such a common word, not enough to express my feelings,” Mina laments in the chorus. Nayeon is more conciliatory: “But I like you, even if I can’t sleep, even if I’m late.” And Sana, by now a familiar and comforting presence, chirps back in ironic response: “Me likey, me likey likey likey, me likey likey likey.” It may be the best-executed joke in their entire discography: if there’s one thing that Twice has mastered, it’s the gap between what we know we feel and what we know how to say, and how that gap gets mediated through cinema cosplay, hooks as persistent as a lovestruck teenager, and alien soundscapes. “Likey” draws on all of those strengths, washing the anxiety of a social-media crush through pastel pink filters and emerging as the group’s surprisingly soulful thesis statement.

Alex Clifton: A sugary-sounding song about a love/hate relationship with social media described in addictive terms. The struggle to project an ideal version of oneself on social media, to put effort into the perfect selfie, is nothing new, but I’ve never heard it described in a song in such opposite terms–yes, it’s a struggle; yes, it’s something we enjoy; yes, I need that rush of dopamine any time someone likes my posts to function. I’ve tried to wean myself off social media this year, but I’ve still felt the pressure to word things perfectly to gain the most appropriate attention. How do I make this funny? How do I make this unusual? How do I make this particular post–and, by extension, myself–wholly likeable? To hear it all jumbled so starkly in such a song–especially one that’s rigorously upbeat, one that could play in the background quietly and maybe slip out of notice as a standard pop song–is magnificent.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: I’ve always enjoyed how Twice likes to get busy, production-wise. This time there’s a fuzzy guitar intro joining a line of bubbly synths, a cascade of slow arpeggios in the verses, and even a half-time trap breakdown in the bridge. And I’m glad that the inconsistencies in their previous singles are a thing of the past, but why don’t they just sound as exciting as they used to? “Signal” was absolutely divisive, but was it really their creative peak? 

Ryo Miyauchi: Out of all of the animated parts, Momo’s drive the story home. Her pout about makeup before the chorus goofs around as much as it runs frantic from all of the upkeep the girls have to do for that perfect Instagram picture. The others are more concerned to hit the right vocal spots to reveal just how much they’re breaking a sweat, but that’s Twice for you: the sugary beats and ditzy voices mask a deliriousness from all this need for attention.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: In virtually every aspect of “Likey,” production duo Black Eyed Pilseung capture the inwardly frantic yet outwardly calm nature of using social media as an avenue for affirmation. It’s more structurally complex than “TT” and “Knock Knock,” but more cohesive than “Signal” and “Cheer Up.” This middle ground proves apt, as the song’s constant innovations and driving energy mirror the constant shifting of attention one experiences while scrolling through endless feeds of content. One could argue that the pre-chorus’s winding melody brings the song to a halt, but this only bolsters the song’s conceit. Compared to the rest of “Likey,” the vocalizing there registers as conversational. But it isn’t long before we’re pulled away into the chorus’s onslaught of Twice-as-hell catchphrases, transfixed by the sound of people transfixed by their screens. It’s a statement in and of itself: how could the real world possibly hold up to the notifications that blow up our phones? The entire song is sprinkled with onomatopoeiac representations that drive home this half-serious point: applying BB cream and lipstick, a crowd of people cheering, an angelic choir praising us in the chorus. And the only possible way “Likey” could have started is with its blaring horns and bouncing synthline–fanfare fit for a professional athlete’s entrance music. We’re ultimately left with our prized possession: a “Heart! Heart!” notifying us that someone’s liked our post, our image, our self. Amusingly, it’s preceded by the girls singing the sound of a quickly-beating heart. It turns out both hearts are our lifeblood.

Will Adams: The popular consciousness’s fixation on millennial culture has endured for so long that it’s become easy to identify the quality of each thinkpiece: Does it treat social media users with disdain, or does it take the time to recognize the benefits they attain from it? In a better world, “Likey” would have been the urtext, at once acknowledging the enormous pressure to look a certain way — sucking it in, angling light so hits you just so, swiping through filters — and the rush of seeing the appreciation come through in short, warm buzzes. Each line offers a different reading, mimicking how quickly we sift through the emotions, never quite resolving them. And we get those mixed feelings elsewhere: a “Heart! Heart!” hook that’s both annoying and endearing, a breakbeat instrumental that’s both ecstatic and wistful, and the moment you receive that like, both time-stopping and boundless.

Micha Cavaseno: Contrary to popular belief, sincerity is never a pure answer. There is nothing less flattering to the human face than your own tears, gushing down your face, mixing with snot and drool over your whimpering pleas to make you look more like a slug than any person of desire (no offense meant to my invertebrate audience, as someone with far less of a spine). Nowadays, in the harsh kiln of radioactive beams from our webcams, phones, and any possible source of laser-like intense study, we’ve learned to fix rigid plasticine smiles and gussy ourselves up in the desperate hope for approval and kindness from even the most distant stranger. Try making it through the days when even the robocalls don’t hit you back. I don’t imagine anyone in Twice was spending their Hallow’s Eve like myself, hysterically laughing at my own reflection after slathering on gaudy amounts of makeup and facepaint in the hopes of the slightest sliver of approval (should I be wrong, please provide info in a corresponding email). But they are likewise burdened with the task of smuggling themselves into the day-to-day of their intended audiences. This group basically shattered me with Momo’s sobbing babble of a voice and our mutual insistence that hysteria “isn’t myself at all.” Now, in the same way, her voice echoes giggling pleas for attention, acknowledgement, the cheap reminder that yes, somebody up/over/out there might be fooled into thinking they like “me.” The blare of the flange-drenched VST horns and the percussions slip from the freestyle/Atlanta bass skips on the verses to the 4×4 bridge to the hesitant 130-BPM breakstep fills on the pre-chorus are not as triumphant as they are propulsive, hurriedly pushing oneself along further and further. For all the moments that shouldn’t succeed (the Migos flow breakdown and the weird gap before the final chorus threaten to busy up the record too much), it’s a perfect balance of charming leap and trembling flail forward, doing its best to never sound as starved a record as it is. That’s the genius of Twice at their peak form, that something so violently happy never betrays the insane loneliness and desperation at its core. We love you so much.

Reader average: [8.17] (64 votes)

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

36 Responses to “Twice – Likey”

  1. wow I really was not expecting this to score so high. it’s good but not great, the main hook peters out halfway through it each time

  2. Song fucking slaps, proper rating. Wish I’d blurbed though

  3. 8.00 ack

  4. I just wanna say that…. Navillera would have scored more than this.

  5. I’m screaming at the fact that this has the same score as Labyrinth.

  6. kinda thinking the chorus mostly lets the rest of the song down, but i enjoyed the enthusiastic blurbs

  7. the production however is kitchen sink in the best way

  8. “Navirella would’ve scored more than this” no because I would’ve happily given GFriend the 2s they deserve.

    The conspiracy against Twice has finally been defeated, and TSJ remains one sole realm of justice and righteousness in the world.

  9. Are y’all gonna review peek a boo or did that come too late in the year

    I remember Decalcomanie by Mamamoo was skipped over for similar reasons

  10. Twice are the best girl group right now along with Red Velvet and it’s not even close. Really happy that we’ve finally given them the praise they deserve. Also really into all the blurbs here. re: Peek-A-Boo, we’re not planning to review it unless it’s someone’s amnesty pick. We may review it in the new year but… we’ll see. I’m into Peek-A-Boo though, and Perfect Velvet is the best K-pop album since The Red.

    Regarding GFriend, still a bit confused by the love they receive. The cutesy/innocent girl group market is so saturated right now and I’ve been way more enamored by Lovelyz, Oh My Girl, Elris, WJSN, LOONA 1/3…

    ps TT > Likey > Like Ooh-Ahh > Cheer Up > Signal > One More Time > Knock Knock

  11. I like GFriend too but man that Mamamoo comment is out of line.

  12. Likely is not good, cheer up is better and Girl Front is the best kpop song ever, sorry atrl

  13. Sweet Crazy Love>>>>>>>>>> this poop

  14. Note: I edited an offensive word in place of Mamamoo out of Jennifer’s comment above. Please don’t do that here!

  15. “Navillera” is great (and I said as much when we reviewed “Fingertip”) but no, it’s not as rich as “Likey” is.

    (I see my request for the trolls to come to our K-pop reviews has been answered. Hi, trolls! Sorry we won’t be getting to “Lip and Hip” in 2017. Now please start developing strong opinions about former-Soviet-state pop, kthnx.)

    also: JMK, I love you, but I fear Max’s and my budding friendship cannot survive another round of Twice force-ranking; “Peek-a-Boo” is just okay; I am nevertheless generally in favor of Weaponized Yeri; and my top three K-Pop Girl Group Songs I Wish We’d Gotten to in 2017 are 1) Lovelyz’s “WoW”; 2) Pristin’s “We Like”; 3) 9Muses’s “Love City.”

  16. I’m black and was just making fun of Mamamoo for their blackface incident. I am sorry for putting that word out there.

  17. Interesting. I actually didn’t like this very much, so I’m surprised it scored this high. I would’ve given a 4 or 5, tops.

  18. I enjoyed this more on a second listen than on the first which is a good sign. Although my most pressing question is: where can i purchase the in-ear headphones seen at 2:34?

  19. I set an alarm to wake up at 4AM in order to hear Likey and I remember my initial thoughts being that it was wonderful except for the section right before the “me likey” chorus. It’s grown on me a ton since, and the experience I had with the song is extremely similar to what I had with Odd Eye Circle’s Girl Front. Girl Front is definitely good but it’s much less interesting than Likey overall. Sweet Crazy Love is OK… I will remember it forever though because of the video and what the mv director had to say about it (which I will maybe touch on in a future LOONA blurb…) I think my favorite LOONA song thus far is Sonatine… truly one of the greatest K-pop ballads ever.

  20. It’s good, but am I the only one hearing strong traces of “Get Lucky” in there?

  21. it feels like many elements mentioned in the blurbs don’t resonate as powerfully if you’re not invested into this group. i find it hard to buy into the emotional underpinnings when their vocals sound so sterile and compressed (a problem that was only alleviated on signal- their best single tbh).

  22. I really don’t comprehend the arguments of ‘sterile/compressed’ vocals that’s nagged this group. Sure, very few if any of the singers display any sort of ability as far as vocalizing, but I can think of a few groups mentioned EVEN IN THIS COMMENT SECTION who have similar quality of vocalists and never get such scrutiny. At the least I can concede I’ve argued that the cleanliness of their records leads for a underlying rigidity that works to my interpretations of forced gestures, and that’s subjective. The rest I’m just not seeing.

    Also for the record I could due the single ranking all day because I’ve stockholm syndromed my brain into thinking every song by this group is good…

    The same way LOONA stans think JinSoul can dance or “Eclipse” is even listenable.

    But given the last splash of petty I gave us here brought out some alarming turns of phrase I’ll relax for a bit.

  23. to clarify, i wasn’t referring to their singing abilities, but the way their vocals were processed, to the point where they are overbearingly flat sounding even for pop music. more of a problem with the production (aka black eyed pilseung’s tendencies) than anything else.

  24. yeah i agree with that about the vocals

    there’s a lot going on in the production but it all blurs together and i wish it felt more distinct. it’s still the best sounding production they’ve had though, much less flimsy-sounding than some. probably their best or second best single

    specifically about the chorus I think 2.5 bars of ‘me likey’s is too much without any real pay off and it gets a bit grating after a while

    Likey is better than a lot of LOONA singles but definitely not Girl Front

  25. i might give a 7 here. The song is catchy only in the intro

  26. Their vocals on this track are better than they’ve been previously.

    Mina carried the chorus without a hitch, Tzuyu improved enough to be lowkey vocal line, Sana doesn’t sound her usual robotic self singing the hook, etc. Momo’s still terrible but she wasn’t working with much on this track anyway.

  27. I’m not particularly invested in Twice in the way Maxwell and Jessica are but regardless of whether their voices sound flat (not sure how this is much different from Signal either, would love you to expand on that Linda), they’re utilized on this song too effectively for it to not be emotional for me. It’s considered a percussive element throughout the entire song and is constantly working in conjunction with the rest of the instrumentation… just so good. And in general, I definitely put a lot of stock into songwriting as a vehicle for conveying emotion, perhaps even more so than performance. I’m also a huge sucker for text painting.

  28. Maxwell why you gotta come for JinSoul like that

    As for the actual song, I would consider it one of Twice’s strongest efforts after the surprisingly divisive Signal (which I loved).

  29. I’ll be honest, I’ve never actually cared for Twice before this song–I didn’t mind them, but a lot of their previous stuff just didn’t hit the mark for me. Fwiw, I wasn’t crazy about “Signal”–the chorus was good but the rest of the song was a slog for me. “TT” is still pretty great, although I think I enjoy that more as a meme than a song.

  30. Actually, listening to this again versus “Knock Knock” and “Signal” (the two non-Black Eyed Pilsung singles) I start seeing Linda’s point. It’s a lot easier to tell Mina from Tzuyu in the “dang dang ullimyeon” part of “Knock Knock” (still my favorite bit of the song) or Jihyo from Nayeon when they sing back-to-back in “Signal,” whereas here it’s near-impossible to hear the switch from Jihyo to Jungyeo and back at the top of the second verse or Mina to Nayeon in the chorus. Momo stands out the most; I know people complain about her singing but like I’ve said before, I carry water for distinctiveness over technical purity. (And Dahyun stands out second-most, though that may be more the trap backing, and also my Dubu bias talking.)

  31. (also @ JMK: given that I started this year as TSJ’s resident misantwicedrist I am laughing at your latest comment. 2017: a year of personal growth for Jessica!)

  32. Jinsoul is the best dancer in kpop, maxwell wyd?

  33. The best part of this song is when nobody is singing.

    And Eclipse is one of the best song of 2017, furthermore it has something likey hasn’t, soul

  34. guys…lol

  35. I meant to say this before but @Jessica if you can figure out what 9M meant by “scandal pop, saucebox” in Love City i would love to know

    I mean everything qween sojin says is iconic but i’m genuinely unsure what they were going for

  36. @William: I was wondering that very thing today!