Is it just me, or has IU become the female Zico? Or maybe Zico has always just been the male her? I imagine a world (cue dramatic gesturing) where she has harnessed her status as K-pop’s golden child to push the industry into new and exciting territory. What if she had never abandoned the lush, symphonic 2010-11 sound that made her such a force in the first place? But alas, Korea prefers the chill indie darling she has become. I think I get the appeal. A song like BBIBBI (삐삐) is about as inoffensive as it gets. The problem is, listeners like me don’t want inoffensive. I want dynamic. I want stop-you-in-your-tracks compelling. I want her to sing in anything but the affected kewpie doll voice she seems to favor these days.
But when it comes down to it, IU is an established brand — and BBIBBI reinforces that with confident polish. Korea will eat it up. Those that enjoy this kind of quirky coffee shop aesthetic will find much to love. And indeed, the song is catchy. Its sing-song hook is a bonafide earworm from the moment it hits you, harnessing IU’s effortless charisma for a character-fueled melody that bounces around with breezy glee.
The instrumental is similarly playful, filled with shifting percussive patterns and oddball sound effects that recall the twisting of a wind-up doll’s handle. BBIBBI‘s bridge offers a fascinating blend of harmonics, hinting at what could have been a much more experimental song. Instead, it feels like you really have to have a stake in IU as a person and performer to truly get the most out of the track. I’m not sure that BBIBBI would work if delivered by a different artist, and that definitely limits its appeal.