As consumers of media, audiences don’t often get to see what happens behind the scenes of their favorite pieces of entertainment. They only see the product, and it’s easy to forget the months of work that go into fabricating something that can be consumed in hours or even minutes. Of these overlooked creations, music is one of the easiest pieces to absorb, but it’s also one of the most taxing to create. One band that’s particularly familiar with this dilemma is the popular K-pop girl group TWICE. The group released over 30 songs in just one year and multiple albums in the span of a few months — that’s in addition to the rest of their ad campaigns, interviews and variety shows. With such busy schedules, fans are inevitably wondering if the band is being overworked.
Who Is TWICE?
TWICE is a K-pop girl group that consists of nine members: Nayeon, Jihyo, Momo, Sana, Mina, Jeongyeon, Dahyun, Chaeyoung and Tzuyu. The group was formed under JYP Entertainment (JYPE) in 2015, and each of TWICE’s members won a place in the group after succeeding on JYPE’s survival reality show “Sixteen.”
The group debuted in 2015 with their song “Like OOH-AHH,” which currently boasts 419 million views on YouTube. In South Korea, when an artist releases new music, it’s common for them to appear on various music program shows to promote their single or album. They may also potentially win an award if their song is deemed the best. TWICE won its first music program award in May of 2016 for its song “Cheer Up.” As of 2021, the group’s songs have won over 100 music program awards.
For the first four years of their career, TWICE stuck to the typical cute concepts people often associate with K-pop girl groups. That meant incorporating colorful videos, higher-pitched vocals and less intense choreographies into their songs.
However, in 2019, with most of the members entering their 20s, TWICE shook things up with a more mature concept in their song “FANCY.” The choreography included more complex moves, and the colors and outfits in the music video looked more age-appropriate. Not only that, but the members’ voices began to sound more natural.
At a media showcase, vocalist Jihyo and rapper Chaeyoung said they believed the album “FANCY YOU” from which “FANCY” originated would mark the turning point of the band’s image to something more mature. But this also became the time for fans to voice their concerns.
Just a few months after the release of “FANCY YOU,” vocalist Mina announced she would be taking a break from promotions and the group’s upcoming world tour due to extreme anxiety. Her break began in July 2019 and would last for six months. The reason for Mina’s anxiety is personal and nobody other than her knows what caused it; however, speculations, including overwork, did arise.
Suspicions of Mira running herself into the ground grew further when fellow vocalist Jeongyeon announced in October 2020 she would also be taking a break due to anxiety. JYPE’s statement even cited “anxiety issues over her schedule” as the main reason for her break. Jeongyeon’s announcement occurred right before the release of TWICE’s fourth studio album, “Eyes Wide Open,” and she only recently performed again on Jan. 31 at the 30th Seoul Music Awards stage.
From June 2020 to June 2021, TWICE released two singles (“Fanfare” and “CRY FOR ME”), four EPs (“BETTER,” “Kura Kura,” “MORE & MORE” and “Taste of Love”) and one studio album (“Eyes Wide Open”). In total, that makes 32 songs in just one year, with separate promotions for each individual project.
Recently, the releases happened back-to-back. On June 11, TWICE released their 10th EP, “Taste of Love,” which consists of six songs. Less than two months later, on July 28, the band dropped their fifth studio, “Perfect World,” a Japanese record comprised of 10 songs. Then, on Aug. 6, the group announced the upcoming release of their first English single, “The Feels,” on Twitter.
As soon as promotions and performances wrapped up for “Taste of Love” and its hit song “Alcohol-Free,” the cycle began again for “Perfect World” and its title track. There was no break in between the two whatsoever. Normally, their album releases aren’t less than two months apart. Even when they drop an album every six months, they’re also releasing singles in between their ad campaigns, interviews and their variety show, “Time to TWICE.”
The Fans’ Responses
Like fans of many other artists, TWICE’s fans took to Twitter with the hashtag #JUSTICEFORTWICE to voice their dissatisfaction with JYPE’s treatment of its most successful group. A majority of the tweets include photos of the girls and captions like “Please treat TWICE fairly” and “Twice deserve[s] much better treatment!”
JUSTICE FOR TWICE
— kyoko (@peachyyhm) July 17, 2021
Another tweet from @ShaneaYohan provides photos of people talking about TWICE’s success, including one in which vocalist Nayeon said, “We saved our company,” and another member responded with, “Right.” Yohan commented on the exchange, “now tell us JYPE why TWICE deserves this kind of s— mistreatment?!”
The claims about the success TWICE brought to JYPE are no joke, either. A Forbes article from 2018 explained how TWICE led JYPE to become the No. 2 K-pop agency. Additionally, in a recent article from The Things, Rebekah McPherson stated, “According to the fans and official sources, Twice has been credited for saving JYPE before succumbing to closing their doors for good.”
Many argue that TWICE should be given more respect because of the success the group brought to their company. But the same reason is most likely why they are being overworked: The more content they put out, the more money the company makes, which will push JYPE to continue milking TWICE for all their worth.
Disappointingly, JYPE didn’t acknowledge the demands made regarding treating TWICE better and working them less. Fans speculate the girls will either disband or move to a different company when TWICE’s contract expires in 2022. TWICE’s fans are primarily concerned about the girls’ happiness and well-being. They’ll continue to support the girls for their talent and hard work, even if the group ultimately decides to go their own ways.