Given their incredibly smooth debut effort, it’s a bit surprising to find that TWICE’s sophomore effort “Cheer Up” doesn’t live up to the bar that “Like OOH-AHH” set last year.
“Cheer Up” suffers from an acute sense of overstuffed sequel-itis. The song sounds and looks like it’s jam-packed with ideas but with no clear sense of direction to take any of them to an entertaining or intriguing conclusion. The opening musical bit, which is played over TWICE’s suburban rental kitchen party, does provide “Cheer Up” with an underlying riff and a tenuous foundation but it’s an unnecessarily tedious twenty seconds to properly kick-off a song that ends up overstaying its welcome by a good minute. From there, “Cheer Up” gets… weirdly disjointed. Musically, the song somehow manages to keep a steady pace while simultaneously shifting from off-putting synth-laden beat to off-putting synth laden beat. And while the abrupt shifts in tone go well with the video’s random set pieces, the poor transitions, ineffectual hook and general lack of momentum leaves “Cheer Up” sounding rather stodgy despite its youthful and cheery stars.
On the positive side, the song’s general weaknesses play to the video’s strengths. While it’s hard to say that “Cheer Up’s” numerous motifs and genre homages make any thematic sense, it’s admittedly pretty fun to just go along for the school rally/classroom/trippy after school special/50’s glamour shoot/spy movie/western/Japanese-ish ride. It’s a bit of a shame that the music’s internal logic seems to reflect the video’s non-sensical fun because, while the video may not need that much structure to shine (having TWICE doing TWICE things certainly helps), the song could have certainly used some more conventional cues to come off as well as the video does (An obvious comparison to make here would be to AOA’s more successfully executed “Get Out” that does similar reference work but with a song that actually builds and a chorus that doesn’t make me want to hit the skip button).
Momo taking slaying to a literal level.
In all, “Cheer Up” doesn’t quite live up to its title. It’s a visual interesting piece of work but it’s also actually less distracting to watch the thing on mute than it is listening to the music lurch from verse to hook to chorus to alt-verse and back again, seemingly in frantic search for anything resembling “catchy.” Thankfully, it’s not like the group was going to live or die by this single anyways. The production for “Cheer Up” could have been “I Got a Boy” strung through a random sound generator and TWICE’s burgeoning star power would have ensured that it’d be a hit. Hopefully, next time TWICE gets a song that works in tandem with the group, rather than one that stumbles clumsily at its side.