It’s a good day to be a TWICE stan.
TWICE vocalist Im Nayeon, known mononymously as Nayeon, breaks all barriers as she embarks on her solo music venture with her self-titled EP. The collection, released June 24, comprises seven cohesive tracks that are reflective of Nayeon’s voice and personality. An authentic product from the idolist, IM NAYEON is a stand-out testament to Nayeon’s potential as an individual artist.
In 2021, TWICE was met with booming success following the release of its album Formula of Love: O+T=＜3, which highlighted hit singles such as “The Feels” and “Scientist.” Thanks to its exponentially growing popularity, the nine-member girl group found itself on a sold-out tour just one year later. Months following the tour’s conclusion, TWICE fans are now spoiled with Nayeon’s formal debut. The first member of TWICE to produce an official solo project, Nayeon rises to the occasion.
If summertime wrapped in bubble gum could take on a physical form, it would be IM NAYEON’s first track, “Pop!” Nayeon’s sugary voice is perfect for the happy-go-lucky elements of the song. The verses brilliantly come alive as Nayeon effortlessly navigates through the traveling harmonies. Although the ad libs “Pop, Pop, Pop!” feel excessive upon first listen, the lighthearted, catchy elements of the song allow the lead single to emerge as more memorable than repetitive. A commanding, solid foundation for the EP, “Pop!” sets a high standard for the remainder of the record.
IM NAYEON diversifies with features from Stray Kids’ Felix and rapper Wonstein. On “No Problem,” Felix and Nayeon’s voices complement each other like milk and honey. Nayeon’s angelic and impactful style blends masterfully with Felix’s convicting lower register, making their collaboration worth putting on repeat. The song’s message is carefree and unravels a swoon worthy story about an effortless romance; “No, there ain’t no problem for love/ With you and I tonight,” Nayeon sings.
Where “No Problem” succeeds exceptionally at creating sunshine in a song, “Love Countdown” with Wonstein adds a different touch to the EP. The duo tastefully draws inspiration from subtle R&B elements and does not shy away from compelling pockets of rap verses and hip-hop influences. Boasting charming synths and rhythmic clap beats, “Love Countdown” is a promising display of Nayeon’s wide musical spectrum and genre-bending ability.
Lyrically composed by Nayeon, “All or Nothing” is a peek into the singer’s inner thoughts. “Even though I know myself best/ I still don’t know anything,” she chants in Korean, revealing that she worked to better understand herself and fight through her darker days. Despite being dressed with striking bass notes and an upbeat tempo, the record is more personal and intimate than it musically appears.
On “Happy Birthday to You,” Nayeon proceeds to reinvent the birthday song. The track lives up to its title fully, as the lyrics celebrate and reiterate the importance of letting go of worries on someone’s special day. It’s a track that’s not too fast-moving but still rightfully driven by a chorus that’s both charming and cheerful. “Happy Birthday to You” is a cute, dainty song, and it aligns with the overall sweet nature and direction of the EP.
For the final song “Sunset,” Nayeon slows down her pace as she closes out the EP. Where “Candyfloss” is the epitome of a feel-good, dance-worthy song, “Sunset” contrasts as a delicate, relaxing addition to the record. Here, listeners can appreciate and recognize Nayeon’s vocal talent as she hones in on her falsettos and beautifully carries lines. The andante, swinging rhythm and angelic harmonies make “Sunset” the perfect conclusion to Nayeon’s joyful, animated debut.
In iconic fashion, the lively and lovely IM NAYEON represents K-pop in its finest form. The EP is bubbly and airy, a breezy and refreshing return to the playful genre. With each song, Nayeon impresses fans and carves out an artistry that is unique to herself. If “Pop!” is the pop star’s starting point, Nayeon’s future is bound to surpass all expectations.