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[Curated K-POP Playlist] Everyone’s Ever-Lasting Celebrity, IU

Edited by Yoon
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Credit: EDAM Entertainment

“Celebrity” is a comfort song written in IU’s own language, following “Love poem” and “eight.” Of course, the grandiose production of it being the pre-released song from IU’s 5th full-album may be one of the reasons for all the love it received, but the most important fact is that her “comfort” is the energy we need at the moment.

At the beginning of her career, IU came under the spotlight for singing “Old Love,” a song familiar to those who were born in the 80s and 90s, and after her song “Good Day” became a mega-hit, she enjoyed her heyday with remake-album A Flower Bookmark. She collaborated with the generation-X’s icon Seo Taiji for “SOGYEOKDONG,” and since then, she shared sympathy with the public continuously and consoled them with her songs: “Twenty-Three” that talks about the childishness of young people in their early twenties; “Palette” that reflects on her 25-year-old self objectively and most subjectively; “Dear Name” and “Love poem” that deliver a rather heavy comfort; and “eight” that confesses the lethargy of a 28-year-old person. 

“Celebrity” has the same grammar as “Love poem” released in 2019, but the music is quite unalike. She joined hands with Ryan Jhun crew, who wrote sophisticated K-pop and made remarkable achievements, and they are the rare composer team in IU’s discography. It puts the tropical and house genre at the forefront, and the fact that the hook is filled with synth sounds instead of an ear-catching melody is quite far from “IU music,” but the song itself became quite unique after meeting IU’s lyrics. “You are my celebrity” is repeated to clearly convey the title and theme of the song, and sensible rhymes of “outsider – minor” and “quiet – diet” allow listeners to enjoy this serious-themed song lightly. Particularly, alongside IU’s unique meticulous and adorable metaphorical expression, her sincere letter (lyrics) for her friend (or listeners) touches our hearts. Like she is known to examine and help people around her (from KBS’s Conversation with Hee Yeol), IU’s good-heartedness is reflected in her music.

Of course, we cannot forget to mention her vocals. Since her 2015 album CHAT-SHIRE, IU has been releasing her own customized songs, and she doesn’t beat her head against a wall with songs with key and genres that don’t fit her. “Celebrity” also consists of a vocal range and melody that allow IU’s voice to sound the prettiest. Moreover, we cannot help but admire her impressive technique that goes back and forth between chest voice and head voice in pre-chorus and the delicate expression she makes with her breathings. The biggest strength of the song is that not a single thing about instruments, melodies, lyrics, and the singer is excessive. Even when dealing with the emotional subject of “comfort,” the emotions carried within the song is not at all undue, letting the listeners enjoy the song quite simply. 

After her fairytale series, “Good Day” – “You & I” – “The Red Shoes,” IU successfully moved on to Lee Ji Eun of “Twenty-Three” and “Palette.” The most significant contribution to her success is not the company’s production, media’s role, or the ability of the composer team, but the artist’s ability. This was only possible because she did not overconfident or neglect her power and pushed ahead with her producing capacity. It may be somewhat confusing as to whom the ego of “Celebrity” is, IU or Lee Ji Eun, but it doesn’t matter now. IU’s songs are all about the story of a person. This is why IU has to be the true Celebrity in the past, now, and in the future.

Not only the celebrities but also non-celebrities are complaining of pain as they suffer from depression and insomnia. With the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been spreading since last year, more people have been pushed into a corner, and naturally, the need for comfort and empathy has reached its peak. More music that can genuinely move people’s minds and spread good influence is needed. Like IU, I hope to meet other artists who share resonant words of the time and deliver comfort. And I’m sure it won’t take too long. 

Edited Yoon: I love music, especially K-POP, and I dream of becoming an A&R person, lyricist, artist, etc. I will cover various articles, including song reviews, artist reviews, and K-pop market analysis. 

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