K-pop phenoms TWICE are conquering YouTube and music charts
Girl group TWICE is K-pop's hottest new act and there are many reasons why
Move over, old-timers Girls' Generation, Wonder Girls and 2NE1.
K-pop is seeing the steady ascent of a new female pop sensation - multinational girl group TWICE.
The bubbly nine-piece outfit, formed last year by giant label JYP Entertainment, has just released a third mini album, Twicecoaster: Lane 1, and is proving to be a formidable and unstoppable phenom.
Just look at the numbers.
Twicecoaster: Lane 1 debuted at No. 3 on Billboard's World Albums chart, giving the cutie pies their highest-charted release to date.
They were also victorious on Billboard's World Digital Songs chart, where their lead single TT debuted at No. 2.
TT was the best-selling K-pop song in the US last week.
On streaming platform YouTube, TT's Halloween-themed music video, showing the girls dressed up as pirates, fairies, superheroes and princesses, has surpassed 40 million views.
M looks at what has propelled TWICE - consisting of Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung and Tzuyu, who are between 17 and 21 - into the spotlight.
THEY ARE FIGHTERS
The girls of TWICE did not enjoy overnight fame. They were not plucked from obscurity to become superstars.
TWICE were formed through a 2015 Mnet "Survivor-style" reality TV talent show, Sixteen. Only the best got to be part of the group.
After many elimination rounds and missions, all nine members have become "warriors".
Momo, 19, who is one of three Japanese members in the group, told fashion magazine Elle last November that she felt she was picked because "the producer had seen how hard I've worked".
She added: "I've clung on to the hopes of making my showbiz debut. My goal is to become someone like Rain or Lee Hyori."
In the same interview, Taiwanese member Tzuyu, 17, was candid about her initial struggles when she started in showbiz.
Before joining Sixteen, she spent two years in Seoul as a K-pop trainee at JYP Entertainment.
"Things were difficult because I arrived in South Korea with practically no knowledge of Korean," recalled Tzuyu.
"I was lonely, especially when I missed my family, or when I had to go through hardships by myself.
"When our trainers yelled at me, asking if I was joking about my (Korean) pronunciation, it made me feel bad."
THEY SHARE A TIGHT BOND
One of TWICE's greatest strengths is the camaraderie among the nine members.
Despite their different cultural backgrounds, the girls reportedly get along fabulously with each other.
In January, in an interview with fashion magazine High Cut, Korean member Nayeon, 21, said: "We've been together since our trainee days so we understand each other very well.
"Also, our foreign members are really fluent in Korean, although Tzuyu sometimes speaks in Taiwanese (meaning Hokkien) when she's sleepy."
Another Korean member, Jihyo, 19, told New York's Fuse TV in August that taking part in Sixteen helped the team bond.
"When we were doing Sixteen, we had different missions to complete. Throughout those missions, we received different types of training and the members got really close," said Jihyo.
ALBUMS ARE A HIT
The girls' latest album, Twicecoaster: Lane 1, might be all the rage now, but TWICE's previous studio effort, Page Two, which includes the single Cheer Up, was a hit too.
According to JYP Entertainment, more than 160,000 physical copies of Page Two were sold upon its release in April.
The album also chalked up the highest first-week sales by a girl group in 2016.
Entertainment website allkpop.com praised the music video for Cheer Up, describing it as "a spectacle" with its multiple costume changes and the girls appearing as geishas and cowgirls.
Review site TheBiasList said Cheer Up has an addictive quality, and is "packed with enough little hooks to give it unexpected staying power".
Be prepared to see more of TWICE in the future, as they continue to slay music charts around the world.
"I know we have a lot of room to grow and we'll be putting in our best efforts to be the role models people see us," Korean member Jeongyeon, 20, told Fuse TV.