IU has been trying to grow up in front us in the past four years and the best thing about this process is that she does it gradually.
First is when she uploaded this #aftersex selfie with Eunhyuk.
This all started when she released “Modern Times” in 2013. Inspired by show tunes and big band music, this is the singer’s first attempt to veer away from the image created by “Good Day” by preferring a more sophisticated and well, mature sound.
This was followed by 2014’s “A Flower Bookmark” which consisted solely of covers of classic Korean songs. The entire album in itself speaks of IU not just being your quintessential pop star, but a singer who will be as timeless as the songs that she covered.
She also dabbled into other genres with the ethereal “Sogyeokdong”, showing that she can be versatile when she wants to.
2015’s Chatshire had a cheeky approach to this with songs like “23” where IU presents herself as a two-faced individual that everybody can’t seem to figure out.
Two years after, this process finally takes full form with “Palette”, a song about IU accepting who she is – a 25-year old who likes outdated things, who prefers her hair bobbed (in which she looks absolutely stunning, btw), and a girl who finally knows what she wants whether you like it or not.
Although this topic isn’t literally fresh, I guess what makes Palette stand out is that everything that IU sings about comes naturally. It helps that the production in the song is quite sparse and restrained. It’s like she’s saying that she doesn’t need anything upbeat or over-the-top to get her point across.
If you ask me though, I still prefer 23 for the mere fact that it is more playful and is a little more savage in terms of addressing her haters. Like what I said in my Top 40 songs of 2015, it’s the biggest FU that she can ever give.
But point taken IU. Point taken.
P.S.: I have to admit, G-Dragon’s verse is a pretty addition to Palette with its insightful perspective. IU’s in a stage where she’s usually caught in the middle and like what GD said, the best thing that you can do is to follow what your heart says. It’s cheesy, but it bears some truth in it.
Okay…nice one, GD!
The accompanying album also displays IU’s maturity as it comes with songs that speak from her experience. What I really appreciate about IU’s songwriting is that it is unapologetically her that you can almost see it.
One great example of this is the delightful “Jam Jam”. It is veiled in clever innuendos but it clearly is about the singer exploring love a little further, despite how superficial it may be. Hells yeah, IU is singing about fubus and naughty one-night stands, how awesome could that be?
Isn’t it polite to pretend like you’ve fallen
For a lie like this between friends like us
Whatever I’ll be an idiot, let’s try anything, us two
Don’t even give me time to think
My favourite track though would be “Love Alone”. In this song, IU laments on a one-sided love that she holds dear despite the immense amount of pain it brings her. Accompanied with nothing but a guitar and her voice, Love Alone resonates this emotion vividly and without restraint.
It was also written and produced by Lee Byung Hun which I read is the man responsible behind the scores of movies such as “Mother” which is fckntastic if you ask me.
It is pretty clear though that “Love Alone” isn’t penned by IU because of a slight disconnect between how she performs it as compared to other songs it like “Through the Night”. However, that does not discredit it from being a great addition to this one hell of an album.
Palette is one of the best things to come out of a rather stale 2017 in K-Pop. IU will always remain to be a breath of fresh air among top acts in the scene for always trying to be herself and narrating this process through her music. Although I am still for conceptual, over-the-top K-Pop performances, it’s good to paint a picture of the industry in a different kind of palette and IU has the exact colours to bring that image out.
Lookin’ truly fine at 25.