Nayeon of TWICE on her comeback, second album: 'I wanted to show a new and fresher side'

When Nayeon of TWICE made her solo debut, she did so with a "POP!" Her eponymous EP, "IM NAYEON," released in June 2022 and ushered an introduction to who Nayeon is outside of the 9-member group.

Nayeon's first release was sweet and bubbly, catapulting her solo career. It garnered her two top female artist awards in South Korea and placed her No. 7 on the Billboard 200, becoming the first K-pop soloist to peak in the chart's top 10.

"IM NAYEON" underscored a visage she cemented throughout her time with TWICE (that has a discography of eight albums and 10-plus EPs). Now, two years later, Nayeon is back and ready to reveal more about who she is.

"Nayeon as a TWICE member, and Nayeon in the first album, and in this second album, they're all me. They're all different sides of me," the 28-year-old tells USA TODAY. "This new album showcases the me that I want to introduce to the public and the confidence that I want to tap into."


Her latest foray "NA," out now, follows a personal namesake to the former half of Nayeon's name. But in Korean, "Na" translates to "I" in English." The 7-track EP nods to this translation, further establishing Nayeon's identity and talents as a soloist.

"The last album was my first solo attempt, and so it was signaling the start of my solo career. But this album, it shows a new side of me, and it's more diverse, and it widens the range of my music," she says.

Setting the confident, bold tone with 'ABCD'

Both of Nayeon's solo releases have dropped in June, but this is "just a coincidence," she says with a laugh. Nevertheless, the idol has earned herself the title of "summer queen," encapsulating her music's fresh and captivating energy.

"NA" carries the same foundation as its predecessor, but positions Nayeon in a matured light.

"My last solo album, I showed a lot of my image that is publicly perceived as my personality and my looks," she shares. "However, in this album, I wanted to show a new and fresher side of me."

There were a lot of options when it came to curating the track list, Nayeon says. "We had so many songs that were great, and through the selection process of which songs to include, I think the concept naturally developed."

The comeback's concept rose thanks to Nayeon's cover performances from previous concerts, she reveals. Her company noticed how fan reaction was very positive. "So based off of on that, we selected the title song, 'ABCD'," she says.

While her first single introduced her with a pop, Nayeon is returning with a bang. "ABCD" unveils a "much bolder and more confident vibe," she adds. The hip-hop, pop track presents Nayeon's current artistry. She even calls out in the chorus, "Hey listen to me now."

The single aligns with the current Y2K resurgence. It resembles an air of pop divas in the early 2000s. During production, producer and company founder J.Y. Park showed Nayeon videos of Jennifer Lopez in preparation.

The styling also throws back to the era. "As opposed to 'POP!' where the concept was pretty, lovely and cute, in this title song, it carries on very early 2000s pop vibe, so (it's a) more mature and simple outfit," Nayeon adds.

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Collaborations and 'NA' track breakdown

Collaboration has been a key facet to Nayeon's solo releases. In her previous album, she featured Korean singer Wonstein and Stray Kids rapper Felix. This time around was no different with "NA" boasting three collaborations, including Sam Kim and Kiss of Life's Julie.

Nayeon sees collaboration as a chance to make her music more diverse sonically and she enjoys the experience. She suggested Julie for the female rap part of "Magic" and the label came with Sam Kim as a suggestion, she says.


When it comes to who she wants to collaborate with moving forward, "there are so many artists, it's hard to count," Nayeon says with a laugh. "But recently, I've been really into the latest Ariana Grande album and album released by Billie Eilish. So it would be great in the future if I can get an opportunity to work with those two."

Another through-line from Nayeon's first release is English-language songs.

"I think songs have languages that are most suitable to express the emotion and to carry the emotions. Some just strike me as suitable for English lyrics," she says. "Through releasing English songs, I can communicate with ONCE (TWICE's fandom name) all over the world."

Challenging Nayeon's artistry and growth

With "NA", Nayeon is unveiling distinct facets within her skill set. This comes vocally and performance-wise.

"I do feel the growth from last album to this album," she shares. "My growth was most visible in the performance aspect for this title song. (It) is really challenging, both physically and mentally, and just overcoming that hardship is the moment of growth for me."

The choreography for "ABCD" is powerful and "it takes a great amount of strength on my part to dance," Nayeon says.

"'ABCD' is a genre that I'm trying for the first time. The performance part, it's really hard to make it look good and effortless, so I'm really working on that, and it's taking a while to make the choreography completely mine."

Nayeon has also made strides sonically with her latest release. "I'm thinking that it'll add diversity to my career as an artist, and it'll also widen the range of my music," she adds.

And with her future bright, Nayeon has the goal to continue to grow as a soloist.

"It was really fun to make this album because I challenged myself and I grew during that process," she says. "I want to take on that journey even further in my next album to come."


This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nayeon of TWICE talks new music, collaborations and solo artistry