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TWICE star goes once: Im Nayeon's soloist debut proves her talent

Im Nayeon's soloist debut proves her talent, even away from K-pop icons TWICE.  – Photo by TWICE / Twitter

On June 24, Im Nayeon of the world-renowned girl group TWICE debuted her first solo project after nearly seven years of being a part of TWICE. She released her first EP, “IM NAYEON” under JYP Entertainment, her home company for more than a decade.

Nayeon surpassed 500,000 stock preorders with her album, charting as high as No. 2 on Melon, South Korea’s lead music streaming service, and debuted at No. 5 on Billboard’s Artist 100 chart, becoming the first female K-pop soloist to do so.

The first track “POP!” perfectly complements Nayeon’s unique and youthful charm. The bright, dazzling visuals and extravagant sets of the music video fully immerse the viewers in a sunny summer atmosphere.

Many fans noticed the numerous outfit changes, some counting as high as 15 outfits in a 3-minute music video. The bubbly addicting chorus of “POP!” went viral on TikTok for its confusing hand choreography, with the sound amassing more than 410,000 videos. With more than 122 million views on the music video, Nayeon showed everyone that she's a force to be reckoned with.

Fans were particularly excited for Nayeon’s supplementary tracks, as TWICE has rarely done features on any of their songs. The fan favorite on the album, “LOVE COUNTDOWN,” features famous Korean R&B singer Wonstein.

Nayeon and Wonstein’s smooth voices beautifully compliment each other on this more laid-back track about pursuing someone you like. This song is perfect for an evening walk, watching the sunset as the fireflies begin to take flight.

This upbeat disco song (and my personal favorite), “NO PROBLEM,” comforts the listener, speaking to them about the power of love. “NO PROBLEM” features rapper and dancer Felix of Stray Kids, who are also under JYP Entertainment. Felix is known for having a very deep, rich bass voice when he sings or raps. The contrast with Nayeon’s cheery vocals made for a delightful pairing.

“CANDYFLOSS” appears to be the truest to TWICE’s signature sound. Bubblegum pink and sugary sweet, it transports the listener to Nayeon’s candyfloss world of love in all its thrill and excitement. Co-produced by Jade Thirlwall (formerly of Little Mix) and arranged by members of Red Triangle (who have worked with artists like David Guetta and 5 Seconds of Summer), the fun pop influence is evident, and listeners cannot help but smile as Nayeon sings the chorus.

Nayeon is the sole lyricist of “ALL OR NOTHING,” a song in which she speaks about her self-esteem and the uncertainty of life and its many challenges, no doubt nodding (at least partly) to her time as a member of TWICE.

“ALL OR NOTHING” feels reassuring, as someone who struggles with low self-esteem. If the gorgeous and insanely talented Nayeon feels insecurity, it only grounds her humanity as an idol, something the industry often takes away. 

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU and “SUNSET” are the perfect tracks to close out this EP. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU” is, in my opinion, a song for her fans. Nayeon playfully sings "Happy Birthday" to her fans, saying that this day is for them and that while their heart might not be happy, their birthday is a gift to her.

A birthday is the most important holiday to some people, and Nayeon conveys that even if nobody says "happy birthday," this song will be there to comfort them. “Sunset” is a song that feels like hope.

With lyrics like “I’m scared of being alone at night/But the sunset is so wonderful” and “Sometimes, I need sunshine even under the shade,” Nayeon’s melancholy is evident, but not without seeing a silver lining. It's this song that cements the versatility of Nayeon’s performative capabilities while still being true to herself.

The strengths of this EP lie in its first four tracks, which are fresh and upbeat. They catch the attention of listeners and compel them to explore the vulnerabilities of the last three tracks.

JYP Entertainment’s confidence and investment in Nayeon’s solo debut will only pave the way for the rest of the TWICE members and perhaps inspire other companies to do the same. This album establishes Nayeon’s unique sound while not straying away from TWICE’s style of music. If you like fun music but value artists with versatility, “Im Nayeon” is the album for you.

You can watch “POP!” here and listen to the complete album on any streaming platform.

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