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Music / IU

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I like it, I'm twenty five... I think I know myself a little bit now.

IU (Lee Ji-Eun, 이지은) is a South Korean female soloist and actress.

Born May 16th, 1993, IU debuted in 2008 at the age of 15 under LOEN Entertainment. Her debut mini album Lost and Found was well received by critics but was not commercially successful. She broke into the mainstream K-Pop market with the Lighter and Softer single "Boo", and gained massive popularity with the breakout hit "Good Day".

In 2011, she acted in the Korean Drama Dream High as the character Kim Pilsuk. She starred in the series Moon Lovers in 2016 as Hae Soo, and in 2022, she stars in the Hirokazu Kore-eda film Broker.

She is well-known for her good vocals, sweet image, a genuinely good personality and her very impressive and well-produced music (and music videos), some which she composes herself. She is also well known for her duets with other singers like Seulong of 2AM and her acoustic covers of K-Pop hits.

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  • Studio Album:
    • Growing Up (2009)
    • Last Fantasy (2011)
    • Modern Times (2013) note 
    • Palette (2017)
    • LILAC (2021)
  • Extended Plays:
    • Lost and Found (2008)
    • IU...IM (2009)
    • Real (2010)
    • A Flower Bookmark (2014)
    • Chat-Shire (2015)
    • A Flower Bookmark 2 (2017)
    • Love Poem (2019)
    • Pieces (2021)
  • Single Albums:
    • Real+ (2011)
    • Spring of a Twenty Year Old (2012)
  • Digital Singles:
    • Nitpicking (2010)
    • It's You (2010)
    • Not Spring,Love, or Cherry Blossoms (2014)
    • Sogyeokdong (2014)
    • Heart (2015)
    • Through the Night (2017)
    • Can't Love You Anymore (2017)
    • BBIBBI (2018)
    • First Winter (2019)
    • eight (2020)
    • Strawberry Moon (2021)

    Notable Acting Roles 

This singer provides examples of:

  • Aborted Declaration of Love: The song "Voice Mail" is in the form of a voice mail message making a Love Confession, but cancels sending the message at the last moment.
  • Alice Allusion: The music video for "Twenty-three" has the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, the White Rabbit, and other Wonderland creatures appear at various points.
  • Anti-Love Song: "Not Spring, Love, and Cherry Blossoms", a collaboration between IU and the Boy Band HIGH4, basically laments that they're tired of hearing about love during the spring.
  • Audience Participation Song: A lot of her songs have fan chants, but her favorite is "You & I". At concerts, the audience would chant "I like IU" and IU would sing "through the gaps of my fingers"
  • Call-Back:
    • In the music video for "You&I", a clock points to 191231, or December 31, 2019. In late 2019, she released the song "Above the Time", a sequel to "You&I", along with a music video that makes many references to "You&I"
    • "Twenty-three" and "Palette" lyrically. The first talks about how it's a confusing phase, the last comes to terms with it. "Eight" completes the "age series", as she talks about being 28 years old.
    • Modern Times ends with the song "Wait". The first track of her next album, "New Shoes", starts with the line "Hello, have you been waiting for long?"
  • Cherry Blossoms: Used for ironic effect in "Not Spring,Love, or Cherry Blossoms". The song is about how sakura are in full bloom, yet the singer is alone.
  • Cover Album: A Flower Bookmark is an album with song remakes.
  • Darker and Edgier: The album Chat-Shire, especially the song "Twenty-Three", which is about her going darker and edgier, when people want her to stay as the girl next door.
  • Fangirl: IU was an open fangirl of Taeyang from Big Bang.
  • Epic Rocking: The orchestral "Last Fantasy" (6:07) is a rare K-pop example.
  • Emotionless Girl: IU through the music videos of "Last Night Story" and "BBIBBI".
  • Fairy Tale Motif: "The Red Shoes" is based on the fairy tale with the same name by Hans Christian Andersen.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: "Cruel Fairy Tale".
  • Girl Next Door: She so embodies this trope that her nickname is "Korea's Little Sister".
  • Grief Song: "Eight" is for Jonghyun of SHINee, Sulli of f(x), and Hara of KARA - three close friends of hers who all committed suicide (the latter two just six weeks apart in 2019).
    "So, are you happy now?
    Finally happy now?"
  • Incredibly Long Note: Her good vocal technique allows her to pull off a number of long (and often) high notes in her songs. Her most famous ones are the three consecutive high notes in "Good Day" which were (incorrectly) coined as the "3-octave notes".note 
  • Korean Drama: Has been in a few, including the popular Dream High and Moon Lovers.
  • Lighter and Softer: "Boo", compared to her debut single, the darker and more mature "Mia/Lost Child".
  • Minimalist Cast: She is the only person on screen in the videos for "Through the Night", "Palette", and "Blueming".
  • Non-Human Sidekick: The parrot in "Good Day" and the goose in "YOU&I" accompany her in their respective videos.
  • Ode to Intoxication: Her song "Black Out" is about getting so drunk that you pass out
  • Protest Song: "Sogyeokdong", a Seo Taiji song performed by IU, is about Sogyeokdong in the 80s, when South Korea was under a military dictatorship.
  • Sarcastic Title: The song "Good Day" is about the day a girl gets rejected by her Love Interest on a day with good weather.
  • Shaped Like Itself: She once said "Beef tastes like beef" on a radio interview.
  • Singer-Songwriter: She is known as one.
  • Stage Name: IU is her stage name as opposed to her real name Lee Ji Eun.
  • Teen Idol: She debuted as an idol at age 15.
  • Telephone Song: Her song "Voice Mail" is in the form of a voice mail message.
  • Translated Cover Version:
    • Some of her songs have been translated into Japanese, such as "Good Day" and "You and I".
    • Her Japanese song "Voice Mail" was translated into Korean for her album Modern Times.
    • She sang the theme song for the Korean dub of Yumeiro Pâtissière
  • Tsundere: In the song "Every End of the Day", she pretends to be cold to her Love Interest, when she actually wants them to notice her.
  • Vocal Evolution: Compare Growing Up (her first full album) to Lilac (released over a decade later). She's not exactly a basso profoundo now, but her voice was noticeably higher on her early releases. Her voice started to become easier to recognize around 2010-11.
  • Westminster Chimes: At the beginning of "Graduation Day", since it is a song about graduating from middle school.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!:
    • "Palette" features a lengthy rap by G-Dragon of Big Bang before the last chorus.
    • "Eight" features a rap verse from Suga of BTS in the middle of it.