[Review] TWICE inject life into their 2020 with 80s standout “I Can’t Stop Me”

2020 has been a relatively down year for TWICE to this point, with neither “More & More” nor “Fanfare” eliciting much feeling, especially for such a high-profile group. With “I Can’t Stop Me”, TWICE appear to look at forging a new direction forward and they appear to have found it.

The trend at the moment for all more mature girl groups/soloists appears to be going directly for the 80s jugular and sink their teeth into the period, proceeding to bathe themselves in synth glory, complete with fleshed out, melodic choruses. Can’t say I’m opposed to that trend rising to prominence, especially when so many of them are executed well, and “I Can’t Stop Me” is another standout.

Like many of the best of this genre, it starts with an appealing and lively synth loop to serve as a foundation, along with sporadic percussion that prevents it from bogging down. Prior to launching into the chorus, the tempo gets reeled back in a bit to emphasize the vocals and to setup the chorus without actually stalling all the momentum. Verses generally take less precedence in a lot of K-pop songs, but these were always engaging, serving more than just as setup and ending up being integral to the totality of the song’s quality.

Speaking of the chorus, this might be one of TWICE’s best, and they have excelled at catchy choruses in the past. “I Can’t Stop Me” launches forward at a frenetic pace like something set over an 80s movie dance montage, and provides a more complete offering rather than just being a hook song, instead cleverly making tripling up like “spot spot spotlight” and “red red red light” the defacto hook while never crossing over into being a one-trick pony. The quick also “oh whoa oh whoa oh” for some reason reminded me of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” and served as a nice pause between vocal sections. The post-chorus consisted mainly of “oohs” for the transition, which also worked because it allowed the synths to take center stage before launching into the next verse.

The only stumbling point in the entire song for me is the perfunctory rap verse, which to me just feels completely out of place in this song. I realize they need to include all the members in a title track, and sometimes more rap works for the song’s theme, but for “I Can’t Stop Me” it’s just a distraction. Thankfully, it seems like they were aware of that and the section is not long while being stuffed in before the bridge, so it’s easy enough not overlook.

Overall though, “I Can’t Stop Me” was just outstanding. I’ve been listening to it for hours and find it absolutely impossible to not bob my head or tap my foot to it, and rather than tiring of it, repeated listens only embeds it further into my brain. It just checks off most of the boxes on my pop preferences and is executed especially well, so I never had a chance, really. We’ll see how things pan out over time, but this feels like one of my favorites of the year and hopefully they see success with it so they continue on in this mode.

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