Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Twice – Feel Special

We feel special, but do we feel “Feel Special”?


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Jessica Doyle: Scholars doing some of the most exciting work right now in Twice studies have suggested that the relative lack of emotional constipation in “Feel Special” has less to do with the experiences of the performers themselves and more to do with JYP’s newfound embrace of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and now I can’t unhear it. That said, questions remain. Namely: Jinyoung Graham knows he has one of the best advertisements for praise dancing outside the black-church tradition since King David himself, but slows her down too much. We know trap can be an excellent vehicle for stating the evangelical case, and also an excellent vehicle for Dahyun to Dahyun, so what gives? And that’s the most striking case, but Chaeyoung’s been shorn of her previous energy, Sana gets blended into the chorus when in the past she’s been able to stand out, and Momo isn’t low enough to make an impression. (It was wise and humane to give Mina the best part, given that no one could have known how recovered she’d be when this got released, but is a Twice song where Mina doesn’t have the best part really a Twice song?) I can absolutely see JYP casting himself as a newly fervent Abraham, taking his tofu up the mountain, but what about the rest of us? When the cock crows three times, are we going to have to deny that “Fancy” and “Breakthrough” are better songs?
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Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: I’m not sure if two-part pre-choruses are becoming kind of a trend in K-Pop right now, but that accumulated expectation only works if there’s a good hook in the other side. 
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Michael Hong: Twice deliver on the promise of maturity hinted at with “Fancy,” but “Feel Special” contrasts that song’s highly-manicured vision of “Fancy” for one of their most focused singles yet. As commanding as the instrumental is, energized by its own lack of restraint, it takes a backseat to the group’s vocals, which are in top form. It’s because of their vocals that the momentum never drops, not even where the instrumental slows to half-speed on the pre-chorus. “Feel Special” is great, but becomes all the more rewarding the more you know about Twice, like how the standard structure becomes adventurous when you consider Dahyun’s solo rap. Especially rewarding is Mina’s verse, where she vocalizes her anxieties with complete honesty. On the chorus when Twice sing “but then when I hear you calling me, I feel loved, I feel so special,” they shift the focus onto the strength of their support system, making “Feel Special” a sincerely heartwarming showcase for their growth and newfound maturity.
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Joshua Lu: “Feel Special” is a nice little romp from the only established girl group to not completely disappoint this year, but it’s not as jubilant as “Fancy” or as nuanced lyrically and sonically as Twice’s singles of yesteryear. It’s like a grocery store cupcake: I’ll gladly accept one, but I won’t beg for more.
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Edward Okulicz: A monstrous wallop, several of them in fact, and a wonderful trap breakdown, but only a pretty-good hook. Something this surface-level fun shouldn’t feel underwhelming by the end, but that’s how I feel. Maybe one of those YouTube 24-hour loop versions would make this perfect.
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Will Adams: “Feel Special” earns points for being very much in the “Likey” mold — down to the rapped half-time bridge — but it lacks the necessary chorus to match the zooming banger of a production underneath.
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Maxwell Cavaseno: “Feel Special” has so many multitudes, a gesture of naked testimonial and praise after so much of their earlier singles were full of anxiety and tension. But it’s hard to feel fulfilled to imagine all of Twice happily singing of the rewarding joy from the love of others in a year where their audience spent a period harassing one member with jingoistic insults while another developed an anxiety disorder (situations I personally worry are related). Also it’s certainly none the more pleasing in the hands of JYP, a formerly brazen leper now turned evangelical, to use the group as an expression of his devotion despite being outed from an executive position after it’d been discovered the mogul was in a cult. Fellow TSJ contributor Jessica Doyle’s remarked on the cognitive dissonance between the number of messages within and how the girls embody those tensions. To the credit of the production, it’s a much more dizzying and unstable affair of stylistic shifts and pitched squeals that speak more to the reality beneath the veneer. But compared to singles like “Breakthrough” or “Fancy,” there are traces of disingenuous pleasure at the expense of girls who feel imprisoned by their expectations more than they feel desperate to live up to them.
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Reader average: [7.4] (5 votes)

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