Since their debut in October 2015, Twice have carved out a niche for themselves as innocent, flirty and fun with sing-song chanting, cutesy dance moves and plenty of aegyo packed into every song. While this all helped the JYP group establish their signature style, it left many fans wanting diversity as releases began to blur together.
With their latest comeback “Fancy,” the almost four-year-old group have finally attempted a more mature sound. Gracefully switching up your concept is no easy feat in K-pop, especially when it comes to “cute” girl groups trying to grow up. Plenty of past concept switches have brought backlash. For example, Gfriend’s departure from their schoolgirl image for “Fingertip” wasn’t well-received and caused a drop in their sales and their popularity.
“Fancy” allows Twice to evolve while staying true to themselves by striking a balance between the new and the familiar. The song has many Twice single staples including their “Twice!” shout. But it also adds in new elements like moody synths, driving dance beats and richer vocals.
“Fancy” was produced by Black Eyed Pilseung. The producer duo was behind some of Twice’s biggest hits like “Likey,” “Cheer Up” and “TT.” But recently, they’ve notably worked with A Pink on their successful rebranding with “%% (Eung Eung)” and “I’m So Sick.” In many ways, this explains why “Fancy” sounds like Twice fused with A Pink’s new sound.
The sound of the song isn’t the only girl group comparison that can be made with “Fancy.” While the ladies of Twice look fantastic, their outfits are a hodgepodge of ensembles previously worn by other groups.
The heavy, sometimes distracting use of CGI in the plotless video is a trend that has been recently used by Blackpink and Twice’s labelmate Itzy, whose debut MV “Dalla Dalla” featured the same glitchy editing effects. Even the mirrored hallway scene featuring Chaeyoung feels like a rehash of CLC’s blonde rapper Yeeun strutting down a similar set in “No.” Most of the sets feel like rooms in one of those trendy exhibits created solely for Instagram-worthy backdrops. Thankfully, the choreography moments of the group all together add some much-needed visual punch.
The track’s choreography key point is like other classic Twice moves in that it’s easily repeatable. But instead of the pom poms of “Cheer Up” or the crying face of “TT,” this move — on the lyrics “fancy you” — has sass and allows each member to put their own bit of swagger and hairography into it. Other chorus moves throw in a little hip-hop swagger as well as playful theatricality, such as the move where the ladies flap their hands in front of their eyes.
Overall, the MV is serviceable, at least straying from Twice’s costume/movie reference formula. It’s really the song that sells the new-and-improved Twice. For every moment that forays into something different, there’s something so very Twice to tie back to the group’s aesthetic. The opening verses of the song are sultry, then Sana and Tzuyu‘s sweet, layered voices in the pre-chorus bring in the youthful charm.
Beneath the pulsing beats are adorable, effervescent flourishes, including sound effects of fireworks, popping bubbles and cash register cha-chings. While the song has many elements that are enjoyable, “Fancy” is lacking when it comes to the chorus. The backing melody is bouncy and adds warmth to the track’s cooler electronic tones. But the chorus borders on grating due to the high pitch of Nayeon and Jihyo’s voices straining at the top of their ranges.
Thematically, the message of the song is right up Twice’s alley. They sing about falling for the object of their affection and pursuing them even if it isn’t ladylike: “Who cares if who likes first/ Fancy you I will come to you now.”
In many of Twice’s lyrics about love and crushes, there’s still a sense of female empowerment. In their MV’s, Twice is usually in control of the story and they challenge gender norms and the roles girls are expected to play in relationships.
Even more so than past Twice singles, the lyrics to “Fancy” lend themselves to moments of maturity. For example, in the first verse, Jeongyeon stands in front of a wall of flowers and sings, “It’s dangerous, it pricks, you are like a rose.” The members’ delivery of the verses and the mood of the song add seriousness and emotional stakes to their romantic pursuits.
Then of course, the pre-chorus kicks in, and it’s back to literal sugary sweetness:
“Like sweet chocolate ice cream
My feelings melting now So lovely
Shining most brightly in the dark universe
The star, the star, and your big star next to it
You there I fancy you I don’t want just anyone”
“Fancy” isn’t revelatory, but it seems like a step toward something interesting for Twice. In a way, it reassures fans who were nervous about the group’s new concept that the members won’t abandon their playful charms to grow as a group. Instead, their tracks will play to different members’ strengths.
This comeback has proven that Twice’s members can pull off a slightly edgier concept with their visuals, dancing and attitude. Perhaps their next comeback will push these even further — hopefully with a more unique MV and styling to make them stand out from other girl groups.
“Fancy” ends with an outro in which Jeongyeon pricks her finger on the thorn of a rose. This could be a peek at Twice’s next move. Will the innocent group finally face rejection or heartbreak? Struggles lead to growth, and that narrative could be how Twice can continue to blossom.
(YouTube. Lyrics and images via JYP Entertainment.)