ONCE A Force, Always A "Spark" - TWICE Will Be Just Fine

10 years in and known as one of K-Pop's iconic groups, TWICE, and their fanbase, need not worry about their latest album's domestic charting.

ONCE A Force, Always A "Spark" - TWICE Will Be Just Fine
TWICE strikes their ending pose for "ONE SPARK". Source: TWICE (YouTube)

I'm at best a casual TWICE fan. That might be because I was decidedly late to the TWICE appreciation party - five years late, to be exact.

As a matter of personal preference, "cute concept" groups aren't quite my cup of tea, so the group's early efforts which caught the South Korean general public by storm passed me by with little fanfare. "TT", "Cheer Up", "Signal" - all were songs I could respect for their sheer presence and power, but couldn't listen to without feeling like I was pouring sugar into my ears.

It probably also didn't help that one of my earliest memories of TWICE consisted of their mildly disturbed yet awkwardly funny reaction to their boss JYP performing at the 2015 MAMA awards. Don't worry TWICE, I wasn't sure what to make of it at the time either, and it wasn't your fault, you just got caught in the crossfire of second-hand embarrassment we shared.

Anyway, even as my K-Pop tastes solidified in the latter part of the 2010's from popular groups into non-traditional concepts and sounds, I still couldn't deny that TWICE had matured to become one of 3rd generation's most talented, popular, and well-rounded girl groups. It took their transition from peppy teen tunes into the catchy dance-pop and cool vibes of "modern" TWICE for me to slide some of their songs onto my K-Pop playlist, but it happened. I don't have many "big 4" group songs on there, but 2020's (and recently, 2023's remix) of "I CAN'T STOP ME" is one of them. And I obviously wasn't the only one. Expanding to a legitimately-sized secondary market in Japan, appearing on Western shows, and continuing to accrue hundreds of millions of views with every release, TWICE seemed a fixture, an inevitability in the often-volatile K-Pop industry.

So when I checked in for impressions of how TWICE's 13th mini album title track, "ONE SPARK", was doing, I was surprised to find an unusually high amount of worry among the ONCE fandom. Angst over their latest tour taking precedence over 1st week of promotions, anger over what was perceived by some to be a tepid non top-10 Melon chart streaming effort, and all of the infighting that you'd tend to expect from a group that might be 10 times less popular and perhaps fighting for their existence. It was, in a word, bizarre.

It'd apparently gotten so bad that leader Jihyo noticed, taking to paid chat app Bubble to express a bit of worry about how the album was being received and how the fandom was eating itself from the inside.

On some level, the industry seems to promote this sort of worry about numbers. Many music shows and awards nominations have criteria that count streaming and charting domestically as their largest contributors towards show wins, and for groups backed by a company like JYPE, the bar is raised even higher for success than normal. For a group that has enjoyed as many achievements as TWICE, charting below expectations might seem like to some to be a doomworthy feeling for an older 3rd generation group.

But it's really not.

Due to their solid, faithful, global fanbase of ONCEs, and their sustained longevity through years of building their clout, TWICE will be just fine.

TWICE was just on the US's "Today" show, one of the most popular morning broadcasts (and it's hardly their first time on there), and not just a few weeks ago, were in Mexico in the midst of their 5th World tour. For the latter, if we're talking about the numbers that people are so concerned about, Mexico City sold out the Foro Sol venue for TWICE two nights in a row, to the tune of 110,000 fans, and they've been selling similar-sized arenas throughout 2023 and into 2024. Not only is that a generous amount of scratch for the group, even after splits for venue, organizers, and company, but it's simply the more practical option versus being on the homefront for a week, where a schedule of music shows that the group has long stopped needing to dominate await them.

The group's latest album projects to potentially achieve their first No. 1 atop the Billboard 200, and at minimum equal the No. 2 mark set by last year's "Ready to Be". They've surpassed 7 billion Spotify streams, and they are primed to get close to or surpass 1 million sales on the Hanteo charts in their first week if not second for "With You-th". For the Circle chart, the below upward trend of sales is likely to continue.

None of this takes into account the group's past achievements, which include 121 music show wins, a platinum certification from the Recording Association of Japan, multiple awards at MAMA, a bevy of endorsement deals for well-known brands such as Pocari Sweat, Estee Lauder, Nintendo, and more. Through it all, TWICE joins a bare handful of 3rd generation girl groups still actively releasing music every year (the others being Dreamcatcher, Red Velvet, Oh My Girl, and Blackpink), and show no signs of slowing down as they roll towards a decade of work in 2025.

In short, to take and modify a term from the mob, TWICE are made women.

They don't need to defeat their younger 4th generation peers on the music shows, dominate the South Korean music charts and YouTube views like they once did, or worry about a newer generation of fans that might not consistently get to see them on the homefront. TWICE doesn't need to do anything to compete with a newer, more meteorically rising generation of girl groups because they're already at the place those girl groups likely want to be - stable, sustainable, with a faithful fanbase. And that's all they really need right now.

Don't believe me? You need only look at the bridge of "ONE SPARK", ending with the elevator in the MV reading "TIMELESS", to see TWICE's thoughts on their own longevity, and their reassurance to their fans that things will be fine, even past the lifetime of the group:

"This is the time of our lives, carved into our minds
Flying high, baby there ain't no sundown
An everlasting spark to an everlasting fire
Don't let this fire die

ONCE is enough for TWICE.