After the incredible success of her 2017 album Palette, IU is taking a victory lap with the release of her second covers project. A Flower Bookmark 2 follows the same trajectory of its 2014 predecessor, covering k-pop songs from the 80’s and 90’s. Chief among these selections is Last Night Story (어젯밤 이야기), a 1988 hit by dance trio Sobangcha (ie: Firetruck). Credited as one of Korea’s earliest idol groups, Sobangcha is well-remembered in Korea even if they are more of an unknown entity to most international fans.
Sobangcha’s Last Night Story was a skittery, synth-driven blast of 80’s dance pop, blending elements of the era with Korea’s trot-influenced love for a sing-along melody. IU’s version removes most of the giddy electronic flourishes in favor of a chic blend of indie-disco elements. Using the song’s chugging guitar as a basis, the instrumental reaches even further back than the 80’s for inspiration. Though distinctly modern in its arrangement, Last Night feels almost as if it could be a long lost girl group track from the 60’s. Taken alongside the colorful, art-house music video, the hodgepodge of influences combine to create quite a striking product.
IU has already proven that she can tackle a multitude of genres, but this quirky, slightly bittersweet tone seems to fit her best. Some of the song’s most memorable moments spawn from her unfussy delivery. This is not the kind of track that calls for vocal histrionics, and by lending the performance an offhand sort of directness, she adds focus to the jolts of pure emotion that cut through the song’s otherwise impenetrable veil of glossy style. There’s a reason she’s one of k-pop’s most adored soloists, and this kind of updated nostalgia is an excellent avenue for her unique charm.