The biggest release of this week is by IU, one of the most well known female soloists in the KPOP industry. During the award season earlier this year, IU picked up multiple awards (including Digital Daesang at the Golden Disk Awards) for her 2019 single Blueming, and her 2020 collaboration with BTS member Suga, Eight. (She also picked up Best Vocals, Best Female Soloist and Best Collaboration in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards). Throughout her acceptance speeches for those awards, IU teased that she would be making a comeback imminently. Soon after, IU greeted us with the pre-release digital single, Celebrity at the end of January. Two months on (aka. yesterday), IU made her long-awaited comeback with the single LILAC and her fifth studio album of the same name.
LILAC taps into the funky style and retro influence of music that has been dominating KPOP for pretty much recent times. While IU goes down the route that everyone has been doing, she also manages to find a small niche that only a few artists (e.g. YUKIKA, Yubin) have catered to. This small niche happens to be the 80s city pop genre, with IU’s release leaning more to the pop side. In addition to the retro synths we get in LILAC and per usual retro song protocol, brass played a vital role in terms of appeal in this song. I particularly liked how it became prominent at the very end, adding a bit more colour and heft to the song to contrast with the constant smoothness that I will mention in just a second. Per usual with all IU’s songs, her vocals flourish and she sounds blissful in this song. Her higher tone and airy tone really compliment the genre, particularly in the chorus. I enjoyed the smoothness the melody she brings to life through her vocals. The breathy ‘Liliac‘ is very memorable, along with her slight high note that she finishes the first half of the chorus is. Overall, LILAC came off as extremely pleasant. And I mean that in a good way, as I know I have used ‘pleasant’ as a descriptor for a flaw in some songs in the past. It is a style that expectedly suits her, given how versatile she has proven to be through her many songs and successfully explored genres.
The song tells the story of a happy breakup between a couple who have been dating for 10 years. This breakup occurs during Spring, and hence this is the premise for this music video. Like the song’s bright tone, the music video doesn’t fail to capture that essence. It is a very bright music video, filled with happiness and smiles – quite opposite to what you usually expect when it comes to a breakup song. IU takes a train a solo passenger, which I assume symbolises her journey beyond this 10 year relationship (on a side note, you can see her album and song releases over the past 10 years on the time board). On the train, she seems a bit naive, based on the way she interacts with the fellow passengers. I wonder if we actually saw her acting, or if she is reacting to the passengers dancing by following their moves. I just found it so cute. This train seems to be her own dream of said journey, with her playing the main character of that fight scene which came out of nowhere and her acting pretty with the falling petals coming at her (and the passengers struggling in the background). At the end, she wakes up from her dream and we see her in the breakup reality. The dream train leaves, but another comes, signifying the true start to the next stage in her life. Overall, a really nice video and IU looks extremely pretty throughout this comeback.
Dancer IU returns in this comeback. We did see her pull out some moves in her Celebrity pre-release, but this is the first title track in which she is dancing to. I liked how pleasant the performance felt and how it embraced that retro side in a pretty and beautiful manner. It was quite enjoyable to watch and fitting for the pleasantry of the track.
Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.5/10