Song Review: IU – Strawberry Moon

IU - Strawberry MoonIU has bounded from strength to strength this year, holding court on the charts with both Celebrity and Lilac. She remains a constant presence seven months after the release of her album, but it’s time to tie a bow on her 2021 work with a new digital single. Strawberry Moon aims for uplift, and its dreamy, sentimental tone matches IU perfectly.

Co-written by IU herself, the track casts a calm, healing energy. I wouldn’t call it a ballad, but the instrumental never pulses with enough oomph to make it “uptempo” either. Instead, the sound recalls the early-00’s piano pop of Vanessa Carlton (remember her?). There’s a somewhat generic, adult contemporary sheen thrown over the entire song. It’s music you could enjoy while relaxing with a cup of coffee. For me, that description is usually the kiss of death, but IU’s soft, expressive vocal elevates the style.

With that said, I feel like Strawberry Moon begs for a more electronic edge. Give me icy synths or gorgeous, spacey arpeggios to counter the sweetness of the melody. Despite a compelling key change at its climax, much of the song threatens to fade into musical wallpaper. It’s very pretty wallpaper, and well-worth admiring while going about your day. But, I can’t imagine returning to this song often. I can picture it as an OST to a really great K-drama, drawing upon an engaging storyline for full impact. If I’m in the mood for a feel-good IU track, I’m much more likely to return to last year’s Eight or 2019’s Blueming.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7

36 thoughts on “Song Review: IU – Strawberry Moon

  1. Agreed, I wish the song had more electronic instruments. I think that would have really made this song quite magical.

    More importantly tho, I’m so jealous of the man in this M/V. Imagine being able to hold IU’s hand omg 😭

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Her vocals are so beautiful and it’s just a beautiful song. But after LILAC I had hoped for something that would build on that. Maybe something in the direction of TWICE’s I Can’t Stop Me and Sunmi’s Siren. But it’s IU. Most of what she brings out is really nice to listen to. Some songs are just more memorable than others. Songs like The Red Shoes and LILAC are some of those stand out songs while Strawberry Moon is more of a safe choice.

    “With that said, I feel like Strawberry Moon begs for a more electronic edge. Give me icy synths or gorgeous, spacey arpeggios to counter the sweetness of the melody.”

    Well said Nick!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. .
    And a key change too!

    Yeah, this song sounds like a Barnes and Noble store circa the 2000’s. Natasha Bedingfield, Nelly Furtado, Michelle Branch, etc

    “My Sea” from earlier this year is better. Its more earnest.

    Like her other songs, I think IU placed it too high for her voice. The IU stans love that sound all the way back to the Three High Notes era, but it has never been good. That C#5 main note (later a D5) she keeps hitting in the chorus is so strainy. Its almost the same note Idina hits in the same strainy way in Let it Go (D#5, actually), so I suppose everyone thinks it great and this is what high belting should sound like!

    Liked by 3 people

      • That she manages to stay in tune most of the time is a wonder.
        Idina doesn’t half the time.

        As a low mezzo-soprano, it seems that using a head voice instead of pulling the mixed voice higher to hit the notes here and in “Good Day” (and “Let it Go”) is the better choice. It gives a bell-likely quality to the sound. Also, head voice uses less air then screaming, so you don’t run out of breath and fall out of the note – you can end the note cleanly. But what do I know, I am not IU, or Idina.

        Liked by 3 people

        • But head voice is simply not impressive enough! (sarcasm)

          C#5/D5 is at least closer to reasonable considering that her earlier hits have her constantly belting F5s—while dancing, too!

          IU really seems more comfortable in the Bb4/B4, average kpop girl range, but her stamina and live consistency are remarkable.

          Liked by 1 person

      • After hearing the piano repeat the first time I realized I was predicting where it was going correctly (doesn’t happen often). I thought ” that’s weird… Why is this do familiar?.. Making my way downtown walking fast..”. This song isn’t nearly as memorable, but it was an association I never expected. At the two minutes mark I was over the song, very boring melody though I liked the vibe they were going for

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hm, I’ve never really liked her voice and I think this explains why. I don’t especially enjoy vocals that sound like the singer is working really hard (my biggest issue with ATEEZ, incidentally, as well as a lot of falsetto-heavy songs).


  4. THE WONDERFUL MAGNIFICENT IU. I love IU a lot, great artist, great actress, great person. Now for the song…its fine. As you said her voice elevates an otherwise standard affair and I agree it wouldve done better with some more daring/interesting production. Manifesting an IU city pop album.


  5. unrelated but i’ve been wanting to ask you which kpop songs you consider “so bad they’re good.” i’ll go first

    *rocket punch – juicy (its so childish and annoying i keep repeating it fsw)
    *eternity – i’m real (the instrumental is actually kinda decent and that shouted out rap in the verses is so hilarious i cant, also those robotic dance moves wtf)
    *hot issue – gratata (that chorus, what the hell was that)
    *dongkiz – crazy night (its their absolute worst song yet i keep repeating it, and wtf was that mv)
    *lisa – lalisa (the godawful lyrics and lisa just telling us how badass she is plssss; also lalisalami)
    *superm – jopping (why wouldn’t we have this song be the kpoopheads anthem)

    Liked by 4 people

    • Jopping is iconic for the sheer amount of memes it spawned, and the fact it is just catchy as hell. But noooo it’s not “cool” and it’s “cringe”.
      I think about that Dongkiz song a lot lmao.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “Jopping” came on in the car last week and it really is just catchy as hell. I wouldn’t even call the lyrics cringy so much as just the perfect amount of stupid for a pop song.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m trying to think if there are any! I’ve never really believed in the concept of “guilty pleasure,” so a lot of the cheesy stuff I love is enjoyed without any sense of irony.

      I mean, that ONEUS song posted in this week’s “battle of the b-sides” would probably qualify but I think the song itself is actually quite well-written.

      Hmm… maybe some weird J-pop, like this? (Wait for the “chorus” to experience the true definition of wtf)

      And Jopping is straight up GOOD. Fight me!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ok, this was NOT what i was expecting

        i thought i was gonna get some ateez-like concept here with the dramatic music and songwriting (though the members’ acting at the beginning makes for some unintentional comedy) and then all of a sudden we switch to some hamster dance song/darude sandstorm beat


        hooks: 8
        production: 10
        longevity: 9
        bias: 8
        rating: 8.75

        final thoughts: biggest musical plot twist since infinite’s back


        • As a person who LOVES ATEEZ and their bombastic, apocalyptic sound…

          The entire Fever series as a whole does not sound half as good as that hamster dance chorus.


    • The answer is obvious.

      Shut up I go Crazy Hot (not its name, but should be)

      Also, just saying, I have been on the Rocket Punch jooce jooce jooce band wagon since the very beginning. It is my anthem.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lol, “so bad it’s good” pretty much summarizes my taste in pop music. I’m occasionally surprised when I find out a song I love is actually considered “good”. Like, I still don’t really grasp why so many people here love “Goblin” and hate “Savage”.


  6. To offer an alternate opinion: IU herself seems to have consciously designed the track to be well within the aural comfort zone of the general public, which is understandable since the goal is uplifting as opposed to bombastic. And I think it works wonders. The glossy piano pop sound works very well with IU’s idiosyncratic melodic turns. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a summer night.


  7. It is not a stand-out song vocally, musically or even with the lyrics.

    But per her own statement, she was aiming for something that the ordinary musically uneducated/untalented folks could sing/hum.
    Then she has achieved that.

    Her recent singles – Eight, Bbibbi have been far more distinctive, but this is just OST material for the standard RomCom.

    Her choice. And anyway it will top the charts.


  8. It sounded like a typical IU song,I’ve always loved her singing and it is what makes the song lovable to me. Of course, it’s not her best but will I listen to it again, yeah!


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