With over 3,000 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.
The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!
Year Released: 2015
When IU’s Chat-Shire mini album was released in the fall of 2015, it felt like her big return to pop music. She hadn’t been inactive for long, but her music had definitely shifted toward a more acoustic, coffee-house friendly sound. And though her grip on the charts never really loosened, my excitement for her output had definitely dulled throughout 2014.
Preceding the release of Twenty-Three (스물셋), IU collaborated with Park Myung-soo for Infinite Challenge’s big Yeongdong Expressway Music Festival, and their bouncy dance track Leon previewed some of Twenty-Three’s charms. Both songs harness a groovy beat but deliver melodies that are more idiosyncratic in nature. As a diary-like account of her own early-twenties, Twenty-Three skirts a delicate line between the personal and universal, adding a generous dose of satire on top.
Musically, Twenty-Three brings in elements of disco and funk, but the whole thing has a wispy atmosphere that’s driven by IU’s airy vocal performance. I wish that the song’s production had a bit more bite, but the sprightly groove certainly goes down easy. And, once the strings come in to support the bounding chorus, it’s hard not to nod your head along. In many ways, Twenty-Three finds a perfect balance between the early bubblegum pop of IU’s career and the orchestral offerings that shot her to superstardom years later. This is all filtered through the prism of an artist who clearly knows her strengths and isn’t afraid to bring her own experiences into her music.