TWICE have dropped a pair of Japanese songs recently in “HAPPY HAPPY” and “Breakthrough“, and while the former is nice enough on its own, the latter is where my primary interest definitely falls.
The double release seems like a sound strategy for TWICE to talk out of both sides of their mouth so to speak, providing a taste of what fans have grown accustomed to so far and then maturing TWICE’s music a bit and not just their image. The result of that maturation of the group shows immense potential.
For a lot of Japanese releases, fans of groups fall back on the trope that “of course it sounds like J-idol music, it’s J-pop!!!111” to defend some unholy amalgamation of lazy, generic electro misfires that has things in common with music designed to be shitted out like 50 times a year. Well “Breakthrough” is an example of a song that does actually hit a lot of quality J-pop touchstones with a mature and playful style while not going all the way down the familiar K-pop “girl crush” route in full, and it couldn’t be more welcome.
Surprisingly, one of the better moments of the song comes during the bridge, as the harmony works beautifully. On that note, TWICE’s voices as a whole thrive in a lower register as everything they do just feels more natural and comfortable. The verses could’ve used a bit more punch to them, both the vocal and rapping sections, but they were still above-average with the snaps and sultry tone coming through well.
It was refreshing that “Breakthrough” relied neither on an instrumental drop nor a hook that just repeats over and over, opting instead for a meaty chorus that delivers from start to finish. That helps the song avoid feeling repetitive, as the catchy hook that eventually punctuates the chorus just elevates it to another level instead of having to carry the whole thing itself. It’s the standout element of the song (as it should be) and only seems to get more addictive on repeat listens.
Aside from being a quality song, “Breakthrough” is an interesting single because it’s essentially proof of concept that TWICE should excel as their music has to mature along with their ages sometime in the near future. Now more than just a visual change (and it is a hell of a visual, as always), TWICE not only have a hit in the present but a path forward as well.