When I think of K-pop survival series, IU doesn’t immediately come to mind. But to be fair, she probably never thought she’d be singing something called “Into the I-Land” either. For those who haven’t been keeping up, I-Land is the name of Big Hit Entertainment and MNET’s upcoming “making the band” series, where trainees will compete for a place in a new group. Into the I-Land is the series’ “signal song,” and hearing IU continuously belt “run for your life!” throughout it makes me think she perfectly understands MNET’s intentions.
Kidding aside, Into the I-Land doesn’t really sound like it spawned from a K-pop reality series. It feels more like a hybrid between Dalsooobin’s spring track Dive and IU’s own Eight. This is no bad thing, as both songs share a sense of rousing energy, culminating in choruses that harness potent pop-rock melodies to craft a timeless sound. Despite its clunky title, Into the I-Land could have been released in any decade with few alterations.
The song’s opening verse melds a delicate guitar loop to a thumping kick before pulling back for a pre-chorus that thrives on its layering of atmospheric vocals. I-Land’s chorus has a satisfying heft to it, powered by a passionate vocal that pulls new sparks from IU’s oft-restrained performance style. From here, I-Land actually improves as it goes on. Its more modern electronic elements are well-placed, adding to the track’s anthemic quality rather than holding it back. There’s something very late-90’s Lilith Fair about the general sound here, and I support that unexpected inspiration.
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