When your group has the most downloaded song of the year in your home country, with stadiums full of people singing along, you’re no longer just a group — you’re officially the ones to follow. Especially when two other singles land within the top 30 of that very same year-end list.
But how do you follow that up, without relying upon a proven but possibly stale formula for success?
Multinational group TWICE, the nine young women who wanted South Korea to “Cheer Up,” doesn’t seem to have any trouble keeping the momentum of 2016 going into this year. TWICE has already made two successful comebacks alone, with their experimental latest single “Signal” still within the top 10 of Gaon’s weekly download charts, a full six weeks after its initial release, while guitar-driven “Knock Knock” is still within the top 40 a full four months after its release. Despite the constantly shifting tides of the digital landscape, it seems TWICE is here to stay.
On top of their digital dominance, TWICE is one of the rare girl groups to both amass a devoted fandom — typically the domain of top boy groups — and capture the attention of the general public through memorable variety show appearances and hook-filled singles.
Variety shows are dependent upon idols’ personalities and charms, and even with less than 10 minutes with them off-stage, you can get a feel for what the girls are like on a day-to-day basis and see how they could capture the hearts of viewers. Nayeon is the epitome of cool, calm, and collected, while Sana is giggly and effervescent and anything but shy. Leader Jihyo exudes warmth, while Chaeyoung reads as spunky and cute.
It’s this combination of their personalities and images, on top of their earworm hits, that has helped them gain attention abroad, notably amongst K-pop fans in Japan, the home of members Mina, Sana, and Momo, and here in American K-pop fandom.
Hours before taking the Prudential Center Stage at KCON New York to the excitement of their international fans, TWICE sat down with Billboard to tell us whose personalities they’d want to try, what they’d love to do next in a music video, and what they want to show their loyal Onces in the future.
Welcome to KCON New York, ladies! Have you had time to explore New York City?
Tzuyu: We’ve done shopping and eating, and we even saw a Twice cover group!
Each member of Twice has a trait they’re known for in the fandom: Mina is graceful and elegant, and Sana is quirky, for example. Do any of you wish you could swap or change yours?
Nayeon: Because I feel like I’m the opposite of Jeongyeon, I would like to maybe switch qualities with her.
Sana: Because all of us have such different qualities, I would like to go day-by-day and switch from one member to another for several days! [The rest of the group laughs loudly.]
What sides of Twice have we set to see?
Chaeyoung: A concept that I feel like we’d like to show our fans is a powerful, stronger side of us, possibly in the future.
Jihyo and Chaeyoung, you worked together on “Eye Eye Eyes” off the Signal EP — what was the songwriting process like? How did it come together?
Jihyo: We talked in between recordings and we got some vacation time to work on the song. We also communicated with each other via instant message. I wrote the first verse and Chaeyoung wrote the second.
For the rest of the members, do you have plans to write or produce in the future? What kind of sound or vibe would you aim for?
Sana: I think we generally feel the same about this topic. In terms of writing lyrics, we would someday like to release a separate album that has songs we’ve all written on our own. This is just my opinion, but I feel like generally this is the collective sentiment that we have.
You’ve done just about everything in your music videos, from replicate iconic films to party with zombies and aliens. What would you love to do in your next music video?
Momo: Recently we’re really into the mafia [party game], so a music video with a game concept would be an interesting one to try.
Tonight you’ll be performing on the Prudential Stage — this marks your second KCON America appearance, and it comes right around your official Japanese debut. You’ve not only taken off in Korea, but also internationally. What moment truly made you realize how popular you’ve become?
Sana: We recently did our first solo concert abroad and we hadn’t debuted there [the group held solo concerts in Bangkok and Singapore back in April]. It was just so surprising to see so many fans responding to our songs and singing along. That was the moment when I actually realized the kind of love and support we’re getting, and we’re very grateful for that.