Link to Official MV – (opens YouTube MV in separate window)
This article features a musical analysis and personal review of ‘One More Time’, Twice’s debut single in Japan, to be published by Warner Music Japan on 18/10/2017.
Although I aim to justify any opinions raised in this article, please respect that the views expressed are subjective. For more information, please click here
About The Composers:
‘One More Time’ was composed by Yhanael, Na.Zu.Na and Yu-ki Kokubo [source:uta]
Yhanael is a tri-lingual Tokyo-based composer and lyricist who made her professional debut in 2003 with Victor Entertainment. According to her discography profile, Yhanael was previously involved in the lyrical writing for the Japanese version of Twice’s ‘Like Ooh Ahh’ and is both an accredited composer and lyricist for ‘One More Time’, having also contributed towards writing the rap sections of the song [source: Yhanael’s website] [source: tune core]
Na.Zu.Na boasts a prolific and prestigious portfolio as a songwriter and arranger. Accredited as the composer and arranger of ‘Blanket Snow’ as performed by ‘Dream’, Na.Zu.Na’s work was later used as the theme song for multiple 3rd party commercial franchises including Moco Moco Jeans and Bandai’s ‘Karaoke Ranking Party’ [source: e-girls wikia]. Na.Zu.Na is also no stranger to working on releases from international groups, having contributed towards KARA’s album ‘Fantastic Girls’, both writing and arranging track 09-‘Hanbi’ [source: wiki fantastic girls]
Yu-Ki Kokubo previously worked with ‘Twice’ as the recording director for the Japanese debut album release rather conveniently titled ‘Twice’, which went on sale in June 2017 [source: wiki twice (album)]. Yu-Ki Kokubo was also the lyricist for Ok-Taec-yeon’s(*) Japanese solo-album debut “Taecyeon Special: Winter Hitori” on the opening track ‘Winter Alone’ [source: wiki Taecyeon Special]
(*) Ok-Taec-yeon is a member of the South Korean boyband ‘2PM’
Song Structure and Track Info:
(fig A – Bars, Timecode and Structural diagram for whole song)
- Duration of the song = 3:01 [source: YouTube – official MV]
- Consists of 95 bars in 4/4 time signature
- Tempo – crotchet = Approx. 130 (Allegro)
- Key Signature: G Major
- Form: Intro, AABAAABABCB, Outro
As previously mentioned ‘One More Time’ is part of a dedicated Japanese EP release. Which, one would assume is a logical reaction to Twice’s self-titled album peaking at #1 on the Oricon Daily Album Chart in August 2017. It’s not uncommon for K-Pop artists to release music overseas (e.g. ‘KARD’ released English versions of their songs for western audiences and ‘Oh My Girl’ are but one of many groups to have released Chinese versions of their songs) and it also seems an inevitable move, given that 3 members of Twice are actually Japanese anyway! [source: billboard]
‘One More Time’ features a distinct and repetitive 10-note riff, which is performed by the backing keyboard/synth and is occasionally doubled by the group vocals. The riff is a focal aspect of the intro/outro sections (highlighted in fig A above) and also plays an integral role in achieving key chord shifts at different points within the various 8-bar groups found in verses 1-3.
In terms of the structure, ‘One More Time’ scarcely makes use of verse-to-chorus ‘bridge’ sections, opting instead to extend verse-length and transition between sections with brief interjections from the synth backing or isolated solo vocals. There are some examples of isolated instrumental passages throughout this song, however these are brief and do not intentionally deviate from the core ‘riff’ described above.
The main challenge of transcribing and annotating this track was that the instrumental version of the song was (at the time of writing) not commercially available. This meant that I was reliant on the compressed audio from the official YouTube MV stream in order to notate a rough score to support my analysis. Whilst I am confident in my ability to transcribe by-ear, I should add as an additional disclaimer that there might be some elements of the backing that I am not able to accurately notate due to not being able to clearly hear and isolate them in the overall vocal mix!
(fig B – Introduction to ‘One More Time’ – 0:00 – 0:07)
The introduction consists of the previously mentioned 10-note ‘riff’, which is doubled across 4 separate octaves and can be found in the keyboard/synth staves. The riff revolves around the triad of G-Major in its second inversion (if you imagine a simple G-Major triad in order –G,B,D- the ‘second inversion’ is simply a reordering of the notes in the chord to move the upper note, D, to the bottom, with G and B positioned above – the overall effect is a difference in the quality of sound despite using what is essentially still a G Major chord).
An interesting observation is that the syncopated rhythm of the opening 3 notes in bars 1-4 is evocative of the rhythm used for the repeating lyrics ‘One More Time’, throughout the song. You may not realise it before you reach the chorus, but you are in essence hearing the title of the song on loop from the very offset!
(fig C – opening to Verse 1 – 0:07 onwards)
The opening 8 bars to verse 1 have been transcribed in figs C and D (above and below). The passage is most notably characterised by its simultaneous rhythmic contrast, with the ever-prominent 10-note riff in the kbd./synth line being juxtaposed against the rhythmically contrasting vocals and the rhythmically contrasting playback of the EDM percussion.
Once we reach bar 5 of the passage (see fig D below), we are introduced to a first example of harmony in the vocals (with a very faint but audible backing line being picked up in the mix), furthermore the 10-note riff has modulated from the chord of G, to the chord of C Major and will eventually shift back to the home key for the final two bars. Any sense of repetition in the passage is masked by the variation in types of percussion being used (with some wood blocks and clapping interjecting in-between bars 5 and 8) and the vocals including a shouted ‘Ow’ and said ‘Yeah’ on the upbeats of bars 2 and 4 below.
(fig D – bars 5-8 of verse 1)
The second half of verse 1 introduces a seismic shift in the vocal line, switching from sung to mostly spoken/semi-rapped lyrics for the first 4 bars (see fig E below), which have been artificially doubled and lowered by at least an ‘octave’ by the producers/arrangers. I would speculate that, given their history as accomplished lyricists, it is plausible this passage was strongly influenced by Yhanael and Yu-Ki Kokubo. Despite losing a focused melody in this section, the pitch of the spoken lyrics in Fig E is not monotonic (at a fixed pitch), the pitch descends and rises as the phrases develop and (for me at least) serves as one of the more memorable aspects of the song.
(fig E – Opening the 2nd half of verse 1 – 0:22 – 0:37)
The vocals eventually switch back to being sung, as can be seen at the opening of fig G, below. Furthermore, the song experiences a significant new shift in harmony, this time moving to the chord of A-minor in bar 3 of the extract before shifting to the dominant key of D in bar 4. This last chord shift sets the passage up for a transition to a new section (in this case, the chorus) which is heralded in by an interjectory synth run during the final 2 beats of the last bar.
(fig G – Closing the 2nd half of verse 1)
I have not transcribed the 2nd or 3rd verses of the song, as these are quite similar in approach to the first verse with the following exceptions:
- The second verse places much greater emphasis on spoken/rapped vocals
- The third verse does not have a ‘2nd half’ or an additional 8 bars, but rather a 2-bar instrumental fill, which acts as a precursor to the third chorus.
(fig H – reduction of the opening 4 bars to Chorus 1)
The chorus more than compensates for its repetitive nature on merit of its rich group-vocal harmony, which is on-show during bars 1 and 2 of Fig H above. The first two bars effectively act as a ‘call’ with an isolated vocal solo ‘response’ during bars 3 and 4 of the extract. The extract also evidences the link between the first 3 notes of the synth backing and the lyrics “one more time” and that we are effectively hearing the title of the song (in some form) played in loop for the vast majority of the 3:01 timespan.
I have only transcribed a reduced form of the first 4 bars to the chorus as the chorus effectively repeats itself with the addition or subtraction of different instruments in the backing. By nature, each chorus resolves with 1 bar of isolated group vocals, once again in the home key. The only anomaly to this rule is that after the first chorus, this chanting occurs ontop of the core 10-note riff for 4 bars as an interlude to the second verse. (The song can become strangely hypnotic!)
The Bridge Section:
(fig I – reduction of the bridge section – 2:20 – 2:35)
The bridge section adds an extra dimension to the vocal performance featuring an isolated solo, which is intentionally auto-tuned as a production effect. This is backed by the familiar and previously discussed ‘one more time’ backing chants and a slightly more subdued but harmonically flowing backing by the keyboard. Although the track doesn’t slow in terms of its metronomic pace (it’s a consistent approx. 130 bpm throughout), the thinner backing texture and temporary break from syncopation in the percussion provides some light relief before paving the way for the final chorus and conclusion.
This website partly owes its existence to the composition of ‘Twice’ songs – I clearly recall listening to ‘Like Ooh Ahh’ for the first time and remember being captivated by the harmonic movement in the bridge and chorus sections of the song, which seemed so contrasting in comparison with any pop song I had encountered in the western market. It did, in part, serve as inspiration for the concept of dissecting similar songs and discussing them on merits of their musical composition, as well as celebrating the individuals responsible for the work. Understandably, I have been looking forward to reviewing a ‘Twice’ song since starting this website in June.
Truthfully, I was disappointed not to be able to review a more harmonically pro-active track in keeping with past ‘Twice’ works. However, to avoid confusion, there is a substantial difference between wishing for greater harmonic pro-activity and wanting to review a song that is similar to ‘past works’ and I feel that I should elaborate briefly:
I am the first to profess that music and artistic concepts develop over time. On that basis, it would be altogether naïve and perhaps even disappointing to expect a new song that is not dissimilar from a group’s previous records – why? Because that would suggest that no progress has been made at all since the prior release!
There are multiple aspects of ‘One More Time’ that I found enjoyable from a musical perspective. These include:
- The excitement of legitimately analysing a song prior to its official release!
- The simultaneous juxtaposition of 3 syncopated rhythms during the verses
- The deliberate descent and rise in pitch during the group-rapped vocals
- The creation of an extremely easy-to-remember ‘hook’/core ‘riff’ (although as suggested above, I personally believe the implementation of the riff would have benefitted from some form of expansion from the I-IV-I progressions it supplemented.)
- The evident use of call and response between the group and isolated solo vocals during the chorus.
- The fact that listeners won’t realise they’re hearing the rhythm of the song’s ‘title’ until they reach the third bar of the chorus, despite hearing it multiple times over running up to the passage.
I’m looking forward to hearing the second track from the EP after its launch on 18/10/17 and I would argue, based on the perceived merits of the song listed above and throughout my analysis, that you’re getting good value and replayability for your money.