When it comes to overall talent in singing and acting, IU always sets the bar high. She’s not only an amazing performer, but also an inspiring, honest, and charming person, whether on or off-screen. Her incredible voice and maturity in portraying dramatic roles belie her young age, proving she is truly born to be a star. Over the years, she has released many memorable songs she wrote herself or collaborated with other great artists. Some talk about love, sadness, regret, and the joys of youth, while others discuss life lessons people can learn from while they listen. Here are some that might resonate with you, no matter how you feel.
When you’re experiencing the frustration and excitement of first love: “Good Day”
IU has so many hits, but a song that might be considered one of her most unforgettable ones is “Good Day,” which showcases her high-octave vocal range and combination of dramatic and upbeat styles. The genre of this song perfectly suits her voice and image, which is perhaps why some of her consecutive singles bear some similarities. She made many hearts flutter as she sang the famous line “I like you oppa, what do I do?” It’s as if she’s confessing to someone, with hopes that he will make it a “good day” by reciprocating her love. If you have your own one-sided love or are unsure about someone you like and are feeling down about it, listening to this song just might brighten your day!
“Was my recent hairstyle change bad?
Did I wear the wrong clothes?
Still pretending like I don’t know
Like I don’t remember
Should I act as if nothing happened?
Should I just say that we should go out?
It’s too beautiful, beautiful day
Make it a good day
Just don’t make me cry
Such a good day”
Source: Lyrics Translate
When you’re coming of age: “Twenty-Three”
Many people say that when you hit your early 20’s it’s the beginning of becoming a “real adult”; a time when you leave your immaturity behind, start becoming responsible, and choose a path in your career and life in general. At the time of this song’s release, IU was perhaps feeling the same thing as she talks about the ups and downs of being 23 years old. Her mixed emotions about wanting to stay young and free are a main theme, but at the same time, everyone around her expects her to become a woman who’s got her act together. Like many young people, she admits to feeling confused and lost, but she also says that it’s okay even if she doesn’t know how to proceed yet. If you’re young and still trying to find your identity, then you might find the words to this song quite similar to your situation.
“I’m twenty three
I’m a riddle (Question)
Try to guess the answer
I’m twenty three
Don’t be wrong because
I am very sensitive
Try to guess
I wanna be a child forever
No, I want to be a moist woman (this is an expression in Korean which means “being in control”)
Yes, I will live silently as death
No I will turn everything inside out
Try to guess”
When you want to escape time: “You & I,” “Red Shoes,” and “Above the Time”
IU has experimented with varying styles in her music and videos, but if there’s one thing that threads them all together, it’s her unique way of storytelling. When you listen to “You & I” and “Red Shoes,” you will feel like you’re transported to a different time — as if you’re reading a fictional novel, watching a fantasy movie, or taking an odyssey yourself. Both songs refer to either an alternative universe or the state of living in different times, and through the lyrics, IU hopes that she will soon meet the person she loves when their times and worlds match. Her videos, often inspired by books or films, also tell a compelling story of a love lost and found when she crossed paths with someone from a different world. If you’re adventurous and imaginative, then these songs are perfect for you!
“You and I, we can’t be right now
I want to push on the clock even more but
In the future, which you will be in
Please call out my name”
— “You & I”
Source: Lyrics Translate
“My lost summertime
Will I find you after wandering through strange times?
Is it still far ahead? When I get scared,
I smile for no reason
Have you forgotten me?
I hope your time has stopped in mine
low the time, stop the time”
— “Red Shoes”
Source: Lyrics Translate
IU’s latest song “Above the Time” is connected to the song “You & I”, which also talks about crossing over time and space as she waits for “that one person she can’t forget even in her dreams.”
When you’re experiencing the pain of heartbreak: “Ending Scene”
Her soft, haunting voice, and melancholic music for “Ending Scene” makes it a tear-jerking song that will call out to those who are experiencing a breakup or the realization that two people are simply not meant to be. The video, featuring Kim Soo Hyun, depicts scenes of a couple as they go from happy to sad times. Their intense stares and expressions of longing show feelings of sadness and regret. Eventually, they reach acceptance that things are really not working out and therefore, they need to “cut” each other out of their lives. The lyrics also sound as though the song is a love letter, wishing someone to be happy and well despite being apart. If you feel her pain while listening to this song, then it just might give you great advice about letting go.
“Eat well properly, it’ll all pass anyways
You’ll sleep like you used to
I truly wish you
You have the right to become more happy
Please don’t say those kinds of words again
You know that those words will hurt
I hope surely you meet
the person who will love you more than yourself
I’m sorry it wasn’t me”
Source: Lyrics Translate
When you’re feeling nostalgic: “My Old Story” and “Through the Night”
Even though IU is still young, she shows a unique preference for vintage, retro, and folk songs that often speak about time passing and “the good old days.” This is evident in both her songs “My Old Story” and “Through the Night,” through which she sings about a past love and missing the person who has given her happiness she cannot forget. She tries to remember her experiences and relives them through her beautiful, deeply personal lyrics, as though she is reading her diary for all the world to hear. If you’ve experienced a great love or have met “the one that got away,” you might find these songs quite relatable.
“Do you remember
That lonely alleyway?
I still remember now
The anxious days when
I couldn’t tell you I loved you
Did you know about that?
The beautiful nights of the
Past when we were childish
I am still in love”
— “My Old Story”
I remember our first kiss
Every time, I close my eyes
And it takes me away to the farthest place
How did someone like you come to me?
If only we could be together right now
How nice would it be
— “Through the Night”
When you want haters to back off: “BBIBBI”
“BBIBBI” refers to the beeping or warning sound when something or someone crosses a line. With this song, IU seems to be making a commentary on the harsh realities of living as a celebrity, which means that many eyes are on her and that she is vulnerable to criticism and gossip. Despite its cheerful sound, it’s a cheeky response to people who don’t know their boundaries and impose their standards on others. If you’re feeling like people care too much about your business and you want them to stop, then this song is for you!
“It’s me, it’s me nothing different
What are they gossiping about me these days?
The searching light scanner, scanner
What’s my score today? Jealous, jealous
“Why does she like that kind of outfit?
What’s that blank face she’s making?
Maybe it’s because of stress?
I’m worried about her
Yellow C A R D
If you cross this line, it’s a violation, beep
Keeping manners stop here, it’s mi-mi-mi-mine
Please keep the li-li-li-line”
When you’ve come full circle and learned to become confident with yourself: “Palette”
If “Twenty-three” is about figuring out adulthood and trying to navigate the difficulties of adjusting amidst many changes, “Palette” talks about finding balance and acceptance. Wisdom comes with age, as they say, and IU explores this theme once again. Now with more confidence and certainty about her life choices, she brings an answer to her previous song. When she was young, she experienced growing pains and had a hard time choosing; but in this song, she shows that she has gained strength and tells her listeners that, “You got this!”
“I like it, I’m twenty five
I know that you like me
I got this, I’m truly fine
I think I know myself a little bit now
When I’m not a kid or an adult, when I’m just me
I shine the brightest
So don’t get scared when the darkness comes
Because it’s so beautiful, because flowers bloom
You are a child that will always be loved”
Hey Soompiers! Which among IU’s many hit songs resonate with you the most? Tell us in the comments below!
DianneP_Kim is an English magazine and online editor and stylist based in South Korea. She has recently authored a book on K-pop style published by Skyhorse Publications, New York. Check out her book “K-pop Style” and Instagram at @dianne_panda.