TWICE finds the formula for K-pop success

Image of the group TWICE in a science lab.
The nation’s girl group, TWICE, released an education on love this past Friday, Nov. 12 called Formula of Love: O+T=<3. The album featured a Korean translation of their TikTok famous all-English single, “The Feels.” (Photo courtesy of JYP Entertainment)

TWICE’s blissful, energy-filled third Korean studio album, “Formula of Love: O+T=<3,” exemplifies not only their generosity to their fans but that they have found the near-perfect formula to a solid K-pop release.

2021 was an eventful year for the nation’s girl group, with TWICE releasing their 10th extended play, their third Japanese album and their first-ever English single in an attempt to breakthrough in the United States. The group is far from done, showcasing their ability to delve into a more mature pop sound and present their chemistry as a group on “Formula of Love: O+T=<3.”

As suggested by the title, the album focuses on love. A sequel to their cutesy 2018 hit, “What is Love?,” the nine-person group is now women in STEM finding the formula to answer the question through pop extravaganza. 

The single “Scientist” is one with a slow start that eventually elevates into the hyper TWICE that many know and love. Accompanied by the catchy lyrics, the STEM queens teach their fans not to overthink their feelings because the real formula of love is in the heart: “Love ain’t a science, don’t need no license / The more you sit there thinking, it’s a minus.”

Continuing the bliss, a balance of dance-heavy and calm tracks create a cohesive K-pop album that sounds neither monotonous nor overly-draining. The English B-side track “Moonlight” is another dance hit with ‘70s-inspired instrumentals, sure to make their fans wish they were in love. 

Setting the tone for the rest of the album, “Moonlight” transitions perfectly into other disco tracks, the catchiest and most danceable being “F.I.L.A. (Fall In Love Again).” In an era where nostalgia is making its comeback, TWICE weaves together sounds of the past with lyrics that make us hopeful for our romantic future.

The softer tracks on the album balance the disco-inspired ones to immerse listeners into the journey and make them understand the formula of love — even if it means having to take them through the hardships as well. The album begins the detour with the breakup song “Rewind,” which reminisces on past relationships that the girls are attempting to forget: “I’m doing fine like you said / The dream I’ve been longing for has come true / I’m not curious about you.”

“Cactus” presents a similar struggle through love as TWICE attempts to overcome the pain and move on with their lives. In the midst of breakup songs, it becomes clear that TWICE’s definition of love isn’t only cheeriness but relies on self-reflection and pain to grow from the past.

The highlights of their third album are the three tracks that divide the nine-person group into trios, showcasing their individual talents. “Push & Pull” groups Jihyo, Sana and Dahyun, where we see Jihyo’s abilities as a star vocalist, Dahyun’s rap adding a special touch to every TWICE hit and Sana shining as both a rapper and vocalist. 

The most experimental of the three tracks, “Hello,” joins Nayeon, Momo and Chaeyoung in a hip-hop collaboration where all three members showcase their ability to ride over a beat. While not the most impactful track on the album, TWICE is able to step out of  their comfort zone to go beyond their adorable, wholesome image and create a song unlike the rest of their discography.

Wrapping up the album with a Korean translation of their first English single, “The Feels” is a staple in TWICE’s discography that sounds perfect in any language. Catchy lyrics and their charisma make it clear why the song deserves the TikTok success it has received. 

“Formula of Love: O+T=<3” ultimately finds its strengths in adding new elements to the TWICE sound including their ability to produce songs in other languages and incorporate aspects of nostalgia by leaning into the disco comeback of the current decade. 

With their third album, TWICE manages to teach listeners what no education system is able to teach — love. From the love songs that fans know the group for, to ballads and breakup hits, they find the formula to not only their area of expertise — love — but a solid K-pop album. The album alone would warrant the group a four out of five on RateMyProfessor if they were to teach a real course on the “Formula of Love.”