My feelings about TWICE have changed so much since I started this blog, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I wrote my first TWICE post about “Knock Knock” back in 2017, and I vividly remember giving it an average score because I didn’t find it as impressive as their mega-hits “Cheer Up” and “TT.” (To this day, I maintain it’s my least favorite of their singles and that it doesn’t reflect their unique style or personality.) At the time, I feared that JYP would have TWICE make cookie cutter music forever – but thankfully, I was wrong. The ladies delivered bop after bop, and I found myself more and more drawn in as the years went by. Today, I absolutely can’t imagine my K-pop experience without them. And now that they’re back again, I’m thrilled to be writing a positive review.
If you’d like to know more about what I look at in my reviews, click here.
“Alcohol-Free” is basically about finding your partner so attractive and appealing that you feel like you’re drunk when you’re around them – even when you haven’t had any alcohol at all (hence the title). I’m not that much of a drinker and I never was, but I’ve been tipsy enough times to recognize the truth in that parallel. Being around someone you like does make you feel kind of giddy and not fully in control of yourself, so I think it’s an apt metaphor for a song. The elementary school teacher in me is *slightly* alarmed at all of the alcohol references, mainly because I have some young impressionable students who love TWICE and I know I’ll see them singing and dancing to it over the next couple of weeks. But since TWICE themselves are all legal adults and in the veteran stage of their careers, I think it’s an appropriate fit for them as a group.
Musically, “Alcohol-Free” isn’t anything like I was expecting. (Keep in mind I rarely look at teasers so I can watch music videos without any pre-conceived notions.) Up to this point, all of TWICE’s singles have been upbeat and generally pretty energetic. Even as they’ve been maturing their sound, their title tracks still have a fast tempo and prominent dance beats. When I heard TWICE was making a summer comeback, I was thinking it would be to “Dance the Night Away.” Instead, “Alcohol-Free” is rather chill and laidback with soothing vocals and a gentle melody. It’s very tropical with a slight Latin influence, and it kind of sounds like music you hear in movies or tv shows when characters relax at fancy beachside resorts (but better). It’s an interesting choice for a group that’s known for bubblegum pop, but it suits their sweet voices incredibly well. And I have to say, I like the shimmery dreamy quality it’s got going on. (Score: 9/10)
I’m always down for a TWICE comeback these days, and I generally listen to their new songs and albums for weeks or even months on end. I will most definitely do that with “Alcohol-Free” as well, but I’m not doing it just because it’s TWICE. I genuinely enjoy its soft and calming vibes, and I find the melody super catchy. I like it so much that I just put it as my morning alarm song. It’s also one of the rare K-pop girl group songs I can actually sing along to (certified alto), so that will probably earn it some bonus listens. I’ve found I can’t play it a bunch of times in one sitting without getting antsy – I’ve been listening to it a lot for this post, and I do feel like I need a break. But if I limit myself to a few times a day, it’s all good. (Score: 9/10)
NOTE: There wasn’t a dance practice video at the time of posting, so I linked a music show fancam instead.
Studio Choom Performance Video
M! Countdown Fancam
TWICE’s performances are always well-choreographed and highly memorable, and the one for “Alcohol Free” is no exception. It’s filled with the typical sweet feminine touches we’re used to seeing from them, which just reminds us how lovely and beautiful they are. At the same time, there’s just the right amount of hip shaking, shimmying, and body rolls to make it a little sexy and sassy. It also seems like there are a couple of ballroom dance moves that accentuate the Latin music aspects of the song, which is a nice touch. The movements fit the rhythm perfectly, and the whole thing makes me want to dance along. I will say it doesn’t necessarily wow me as much as some of TWICE’s other more recent choreographies, but I also think it’s not meant to – it’s just supposed to be a fun dance to a fun summer song, and I’m down with that. (Score: 9/10)
As always, TWICE makes use of their many members to fill up the stage and create an immersive and entertaining performance. Unlike their other recent songs, the formations are a little more straightforward this time – focusing on very simple shapes like one or two lines, groups of three, etc. Much like the song itself, the whole performance looks very calm and relaxed. But while “Alcohol-Free” isn’t as formation-heavy as usual, there are a couple of interesting ones that catch my eye. The one that’s probably the most noticeable is the famous “crab move” during the second verse, but my personal favorite is when the girls form a bar counter and Mina pretends to make a drink that she tosses to Dahyun. It’s so fun and creative! (Score: 8/10)
My Favorite Key Point Move
My Favorite Formation
(Please note that I only put my blog name on the image below because it took me a while to do the formatting and color-coding, and I don’t want people to take it and re-upload it without credit. The creators of the song and my sources for the lyrics and distribution are in the picture.)
LINE AND CENTER DISTRIBUTION
As far as TWICE singles go, this is actually not too bad of a line distribution. “Alcohol-Free” isn’t as complicated to sing as some of their other hits, so the lines for the verses can be more freely distributed among the members. It actually looks like Sana and Tzuyu have the most lines and center time, which is nice to see. And even though I’m a little put out that some members don’t have many lines (MINA), I will acknowledge that almost everyone has some standout parts in the choreography to make up for it. I think the distribution could be better, but I also acknowledge that it could be worse. (Score: 8/10)
I feel I always say this when I look at TWICE’s music videos, but I spent most of my first watch through remarking on how beautiful the members are. They’re so gorgeous it’s actually ridiculous, and the production companies they use do an amazing job of showing off their visuals. The “Alcohol-Free” music video is nothing but tropical fun, and it’s absolutely perfect for summer. It really makes me wish I could go on vacation somewhere during the summer. There are also some interesting more fantastical shots of members sitting in giant cocktail glasses, which I think helps accentuate the dreamy quality of the song. I do kind of miss the days when TWICE made fun music videos with specific characters and pop culture references, but the aesthetic of “Alcohol-Free” is so appealing that I’ll still happily watch it many times.(Score: 8/10)
TWICE on Ellen (6/10)
TWICE on Music Core (6/12)
TWICE on Music Bank (6/11)
TWICE on Inkigayo (6/13)
TWICE has had some excellent styling over the past few years, and they are rocking some amazingly beautiful looks for this comeback as well. Apparently TWICE’s stylists have even converted luxury scarves into tops and skirts for them, which I find both fascinating and highly original. Everything looks so tropical and summery, and I love every single outfit I’ve seen so far. If I were the same size as TWICE and had hundreds of dollars to drop on luxury clothing, I’d probably try to wear one of those looks. I honestly think the styling is perfection, and this comeback’s fashion is definitely my favorite so far this year. (Score: 10/10)
My Style MVP for “Alcohol-Free” – It was super hard for me to choose because they’re all stunning, but I ended up picking Nayeon because I really love her red dress.
ARTISTRY AND IMAGE
TWICE has rocked a summer concept before (see: “Dance the Night Away”), but this is the first time they’ve slowed things down a bit and haven’t gone an energetic or bubblegum pop route. “Alcohol-Free” is still incredibly refreshing, but in a much more mellow way. It’s also pretty sexy for TWICE, which isn’t too surprising since they’ve been taking on a more grown up look since “Fancy.” While I like this change of pace for TWICE, I do feel that “Alcohol-Free” isn’t necessarily as indicative of their signature style and artistry. Normally I can’t see anyone else doing their title tracks, but I can imagine other girl groups fitting this song. But even if it’s not as unique as some of TWICE’s other hits, I still think it’s a good match. And I’m glad to see they’re trying out new things, even in their sixth year of promotions. (Score: 9/10)
Since I’ve moved to South Korea, I’ve noticed that TWICE’s popularity isn’t quite the same as it used to be. When I came here in 2019, I had a bunch of 5th and 6th grade students that loved them. I also heard “Fancy” and “Feel Special” everywhere. However, their 2020 songs didn’t seem to make as much of a splash or turn out to be as iconic. (At least in my city, which is not Seoul.) And nowadays, my students are more likely to tell me they love ITZY or BLACKPINK. To be clear, I’m not saying that TWICE is going downhill or fading away or anything like that – they’re still incredibly popular, more so than many girl groups. It’s just that things are shifting in the industry, and they’re not mega popular like they were before. But I think that “Alcohol-Free” is a fun and refreshing summer song that anyone can enjoy, and it sounds like something the Korean general public would like. So I think TWICE will do well this comeback, and I hope “Alcohol-Free” will remind people why they’re such a K-pop mainstay. (Score: 9/10)
PERSONAL INTEREST LEVEL
I always have a relatively high level of engagement with TWICE content, and that’s definitely going to continue with “Alcohol-Free.” So far, I really like everything about it – particularly the choreography (per usual), but also the music video and the styling. Like I said before, I’ll probably space out how much I listen to the song or watch any videos in order to enjoy it as much as possible. But I predict that this will easily be one of my songs of the summer. (Score: 9/10)
|Line and Center Distribution||8|
|Personal Interest Level||9|
Watching TWICE perform “Alcohol-Free” makes me realize how far they’ve come since I started being a K-pop fan. Five years ago, they were superstar teenage rookies who captivated South Korea with iconic hits like “Cheer Up” and “TT.” Now, they’re sophisticated women who can take on more mature and even sexy concepts. They’ve really grown so much, and it’s been amazing to see that evolution. I’ll admit “Alcohol-Free” isn’t my favorite TWICE comeback ever, but I still think it’s incredibly well-done – and I’m ready to enjoy it to the fullest.
SOURCES: JYP Entertainment, Koreaboo (1), Studio Choom, MNET/M2, TWICE’s Twitter (1) (2) (3) (4)
Featured image is a teaser photo for Taste of Love and belongs to JYP Entertainment.
GIFs were made from the “Alcohol-Free” music video (JYP Entertainment) and TWICE’s performance video for Studio Choom (MNET/M2).