Even for the rapid-fire world of K-pop, Twice has a remarkable discography. It’s been less than three years since their debut, yet they’ve released five EPs, a full album, two repackages, and that’s just in Korea! However, their plethora of releases has always been stymied by the fact that Twice are first and foremost singles artists– there just isn’t a lot of work put into their discography as a whole. That doesn’t mean Twice is lacking in quality B-sides, just that their hidden gems are hidden better than most, and today, we’re shining a light on them.
First appearing as a challenge song in Sixteen, “Truth” was later recorded by Twice and included on The Story Begins. It’s one of the most unusual tracks in their debut, as it showcases Twice’s ability to emote vocally rather than relying on volume and pep. It starts off that way, sure, but the chorus strips away the facade and lets some real vulnerability shine as Twice break down and admit that, for all their posturing, all they want is to be with their crush. It genuinely pulls at the heart, especially when contrasted with the bright pops and piano of the instrumentals.
Of course, volume and pep aren’t always bad things, as proven by Page Two’s “Touchdown”. Normally, the overly loud cheerleader chanting irritates me, but it works here, not in the least because it’s theoretically appropriate. It’s full of energy, with Twice screaming their lungs out against a driving drumbeat. And while the verses allow for the catching of breath as Twice lets out their cattier, more arrogant selves, let’s be honest– that countdown is a massive earworm. Add in the horns for that marching band aesthetic, and “Touchdown” almost makes me wish I went to a football game in high school.
There are phrases I never expected to say in conjunction with a Twice song, and “kick-ass guitar riff” topped that list. Yet, that’s the only way to describe “Ponytail”. It definitely slides into J-pop territory at the chorus, but the riff “Ponytail” is built on is pure hair metal and it’s glorious. The world needs more metal-influenced pop music. The vocals aren’t anything to sneeze at either, with Twice matching the frenzied production in energy while staying in their upper ranges to play off the rougher instrumentals. The whole song just makes you want to take on the world bare-handed– which is the point of the lyrics, so goal achieved.
Like “Ponytail, “One In A Million” is off of Twicecoaster: Lane 1, and provides a proof that Twice is perfectly capable of delivering solid songs outside of bubblegum pop. As I’ve said before, Twice’s greatest strengths is their ability to sell their material, but that ability is rarely utilized by anyone for sounds other than pure pop. Here, Twice proves that they can do R&B, with a gentle, sparse ballad– the stripped-back production is an acoustic guitar with a few flourishes. Twice kills by pouring themselves into the vocals. The vocal lines aren’t challenging to sing, but they come off as honest and raw in a way most pop groups cannot do. “One In A Million” is genuinely lovely, and out of all the songs on this list, deserves the most respect.
It is not a secret that I’m a sucker for throwbacks, so it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that “Ho!” from What Is Love? is on this list. Most artists trying to harken back to earlier sounds stop at the 80s, with a few dipping into 70s disco and funk. 50s doo-wop is pretty rare but Twice knocks it out of the park. They don’t sanitize “Ho!” either, instead filling it with the coy flirting and rollicking teases that filled genuine doo-wop tracks. The shift towards surf rock on the chorus doesn’t hurt either, allowing the track to get even wilder and more chaotic. It’s a bona fide fun song to listen to, pure and simple.
Those are my favorites of Twice’s B-sides, but I’m only one person. If there are any B-sides you love that aren’t listed, leave them in the comments.
(Images via JYP Entertainment, YouTube)