Arguably, much of K-pop’s American crossover successes have been attributed to most acts having a core sound based in hip-hop or EDM instead of the music scene’s unique brand of bubblegum sheen. But TWICE‘s new single “Dance the Night Away” is seemingly proving how acts can bring that cheerful tone and package it in a way that undeniably appeals to a larger, global audience.
“Dance the Night Away,” the girl group’s ninth official K-pop single and first since April’s electro-pop cut “What Is Love?,” sees TWICE opening with the peppy pop sound that’s defined a majority of their hits, but flips the script on the hook. By the 0:50 mark the ladies are riding a festival-ready, electronic breakdown that wouldn’t be out of a place on a Calvin Harris or David Guetta single and, instead of letting the beat steal the spotlight, they bring their signature, high-spirited cheers and melodies into the beat drop and never lose the brand identity they’ve established.
The fresh change can be somewhat chalked up to working with Swedish producers Jonatan Gusmark and Ludvig Evers (a.k.a Moonshine) who would inevitably help make the group more Western-accessible. But even by taking the plunge into a new team of producers, TWICE doesn’t lose the sonic touch points of what has made them the huge successes they’ve become around the world, particularly as dominating chart-toppers in Japan and their native Korea. A majority of the ninesome’s singles have been done by well-known Korean producers, including four by Black Eyed Pilseung and two from J.Y. Park, but this is still a TWICE song through and through. From leader Jihyo’s belts on the final chorus (a staple in most TWICE hits) to Dahyun handling a rap section (which is admittedly shorter than most of their songs and doesn’t feature the group’s other rapper Chaeyoung), the new single still feels genuine to TWICE even with a change up in direction.
In fact depending on the success of “Dance the Night Away” — which we’ll be able to see next Tuesday when the charts refresh on Billboard — it could set a template for how K-pop acts could consider shaping their releases. Particularly with female acts that do embrace more of the bubblegum vibes targeted towards Asia, “Dance the Night Away” could become a textbook example of how to keep a brand identity strong while also keeping an international listenership in mind. With a reported 20 millions views earned in the video’s first 24 hours out on a global platform like YouTube, there is much to indicate this is connecting the group to new audiences and listeners.