[Digital Single] IU – Fifth Finger Telecinema Project Vol.6

Fifth Finger Telecinema Project Vol.6 is the first digital single released by IU (not including the collaboration). It was used as the theme to the film, 19.

fifthfinger
Released: February 24, 2010
1. Fifth Finger (다섯째 손가락)
2. Fifth Finger (Instrumental)

Fifth Finger works perfectly with IU’s sweet and soft vocals and she excels at these gentle, acoustic pop songs. Unfortunately, these songs aren’t my cup of tea and this one is especially dull for me. It does have some nice qualities to it like the music being perfect for when the sun goes down and IU’s voice, but it feels more like background music than something I would actively listen to. It’s not a bad song, just not for me.

Overall: Pretty much not the kind of song I actively look for or listen to. A bit boring although it does have some charm.

C+

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[Digital Single] Na Yoon Kwon & IU – It’s First Love

It’s First Love is the first collaborative single between IU and Na Yoon Kwon.

itsfirstlove
Released: January 12, 2010
1. It’s First Love (첫사랑이죠)
2. It’s First Love (Instrumental)

It’s First Love is a nice midtempo sort of ballad. It has a more relaxed nature to it but it still has some energy in the music which helps keep it from being boring. Both artists sound quite nice, but I do feel like this is more of a Na Yoon Kwon song than a duet with IU as IU is largely given harmonies. Their voices work really nicely together, but it would’ve been nice to see IU have a bigger presence. The melody is stunning though.

Overall: This was a nice collaboration single, but I think it would’ve been nicer to see the two trade off of each other. The song is a beautiful pop ballad and does play on the strengths of both singers.

A-

[Mini-Album] IU – IU…IM

IU…IM is the second mini-album released by IU. Marshmallow was used as the promotional song.

iu...im
Released: November 12, 2009
1. Love attack
2. Train Ride (기차를 타고)
3. Marshmallow (마쉬멜로우)
4. Morning Tears (아침 눈물)
5. Nervous Date (두근 두근 데이트)
6. Train Ride (Instrumental)
7. Morning Tears (Instrumental)

Love attack is bubblegum pop to the max and like a synthed up version of her song, Boo. It’s positive and rather cute in its delivery. I do think it gets a bit too much at times and the melody doesn’t totally stick. The chorus just keeps pushing these fast hooks and it doesn’t quite work out here. It’s not horrible and has some nice elements to it, but it isn’t that memorable. Train Ride is a ballad and infinitely better than the last song. This is where IU’s voice really shines and she sounds great in the verses. I do quite like how the song starts up and builds into something more powerful. The melody is quite beautiful and IU really does a great job in these kinds of songs. Marshmallow brings back that “cute” pop sound like Love attack and Boo. It is really over-the-top like those two, but it has its own charms. The calmer parts of the verses are actually quite clever and I like the playfulness of the song. The chorus is pretty simple. It’s catchy, but I feel like it could have been played up a little more to bring something dramatic. It’s a decent tune and not surprising why it’s the promo song. Morning Tears is another slower song and has some R&B elements to it. It’s nice, but compared to the more dramatic Train Ride, this one is a little forgettable. It’s still a nice tune and it has a relaxing chorus, but it is the type of song that has been done a hundred times over in K-Pop. Nervous Date is a nice go-between as it is more midtempo. I do like its laid back vibe and subtle R&B/reggae sound. I do wish the chorus was more interesting as the music just stays consistent and there feels like there isn’t much transition between the two parts. It’s decent though.

Overall: This is a pretty average mini. Actually, all the songs on here are solid tunes, but there isn’t anything that stands out in particular. I do wish the album was rearranged a little better as it goes up and down constantly whereas Nervous Date could have been used as a good transition from faster to slower tunes.

B

[Album] IU – Growing up

Growing up is the first album released by IU. I remember when this album came out, people were complaining because the first single had a stronger pop sound to it and it wasn’t as powerful as Lost Child. I really had no problem, I thought the song first her age much better. Boo was used as the first single and the album pretty much includes all the tracks from her debut mini-album.


Released: April 23, 2009
1. Overlook (바라보기)
2. Boo [MV]
3. Poor Thing (가여워)
4. A dreamer
5. Every sweet day
6. Lost Child (미아) [MV]
7. I Do Four (나 말고 넷)
8. You Know (있잖아)
9. Graduation Day (졸업하는 날)
10. Feel so good
11. Ugly Duckling (미운 오리)
12. Overlook (After Looking At) (바라보기(바라보기 그 후))
13. Lost Child (Acoustic ver.) (미아 Acoustic ver.)
14. You Know (Rock ver.) (있잖아 Rock ver.) [MV]
15. Boo (Inst.)
16. Poor Thing (Inst.) (가여워 Inst.)

Opening the album, we are given a more laidback reggae pop tune, Overlook. It’s certainly an interesting opener and while it is quite good, it’s not my cup of tea. I did like IU’s smooth vocals and the feeling of being on the beach though. I has a very calming feel to it. Boo was used as the first single and really should’ve been made the opener because of its more radio-friendly sound. It’s a catchy pop song that is more in line to that of “You Know”, but I wouldn’t say as strong. Regardless, IU easily glides through the song and she actually adds some attitude to make her vocal performance more intriguing. Good song and I don’t get why people had a problem with it. Poor Thing definitely switches things up with a pretty somber ballad. The song sounds pretty similar to other Kpop ballads out there, although it’s not one of the more interesting ones. While I did enjoy IU’s vocal performance a lot, the song was just too dull for me to actually pay attention. What I like about A dreamer is that it has a more progressive sound to it and IU’s vocals make it sound like you are floating. I was quite surprised that included a rap though as I found it to break the song up a little bit. Regardless, the chorus is quite good and I really enjoyed the use of the strings. It’s a decent track. Don’t really need to go through Every sweet day and Lost Child as my thoughts are still the same as on the mini-album review. The former is ok, but a tad dull, while the latter is one of IU’s best songs and a great power ballad with sweeping strings. The latter sorta just stands out in the album like a soar thumb. I Do Four has IU giving us a happy pop tune. It’s more along the lines of Boo, but with a stronger bubblegum pop presence. I like it and it’s quite catchy and I personally enjoy it more than Boo. You Know is another song found from her debut mini-album and another catchy pop tune. This is by far her best of the upbeat songs though as it’s insanely catchy and everything just comes together nicely. Graduation Day is more of a midtempo R&B/pop song. It’s a sweet song and the lyrics are quite nice, although I’m not particularly fond of the opening English lines to the chorus “I’m alright, I’m so fine“.  Overall, the song is ok, but doesn’t do much for me. I think it’s missing something. The next two songs, Feel so good and Ugly Duckling, were found on her debut mini-album. Both are good and showcase some of IU’s best vocals. Overlook (After Looking At) is basically the same song as the opener, just with different lyrics. Lost Child (Acoustic ver.) is a far more raw version of the power ballad. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this, but seriously it’s just as good because it keeps the emotion intact, but gives it in a more depressing and somber atmosphere whereas the original was more aggressive. You Know (Rock ver.) is the pop/rock swing on the catchy pop tune. I can easily see how the rock would fit with the pop instrumental, but my problem lied with IU’s vocals. The song is the rock version, so you would think there would be more attitude in it, but the vocals are pretty much the same way as the original. It’s a little weaker.

Overall: I wasn’t particularly fond of this album to be honest. There are some good songs, quite a few coming from the debut mini-album. Of the newer tracks, very few stood out, while most were rather plain and album fillers. While I’m all for IU performing more mature music, it also has to not be dull. The pop tunes were good though and Lost Child really stood out. I sorta wish she had more of the latter.

C+

[Mini-Album] IU – LOST and FOUND

With several groups starting to debut, IU started up as the new solo artist that people should watch for. While she was an idol, her talent at the age of 15 really impressed others, especially other well known singers like Gummy. While it wasn’t her breakthrough release, it got her noticed. LOST and FOUND is the debut album released by IU. Lost Child was used as the lead single.


Released: September 23, 2008
1. Ugly Duckling  (미운 오리)
2. Lost Child (미아) [MV]
3. You Know (있잖아)
4. Feel so good
5. Every sweet day
6. Lost Child (Inst.) (미아)

The mini-album opens with Ugly Duckling, a relaxing acoustic ballad with a slight R&B beat. What I like about this song is that it really shows off the control that IU has in her voice and the wonderful tone of her voice. I will be honest and say that the song itself is nothing particularly exciting, but mixed with IU’s vocals it becomes something magical. A strong opener. As the first single, Lost Child definitely needed to stand out and in what a way it does. With a much fuller arrangement, this power ballad utilizes an explosive chorus but haunting strings.  Vocally, this song is quite difficult as it requires some power and IU does it surprisingly well. I really have no problems with this song and it’s still one of, if not IU’s best song. You Know features rapper Mario and is a total switch from the previous track. Instead of a serious power ballad, IU gives us a catchy pop tune. While I wasn’t particularly excited to hear such talent wasted on such a “mainstream” sounding song, it certainly grew on me and is one of my favourites by her. It shows off her versatility and it’s just so damn catchy. Quite good. Feel so good slows things down yet again and we are given a very lounge-like song with an R&B touch. I’m particularly fond of this song, but I got to be honest that it certainly shows off some of IU’s best vocals ever. The control she utilizes here, especially during the chorus is just surprising for someone so young. Every sweet day is a midtempo R&B pop song and like the last song I’m not particularly fond of this one. It’s not bad, but it’s sorta cheesy. The English in the chorus just makes the song messy and the song in general just doesn’t climax.

Overall: IU has definitely hit it big in the last year, but she already had the talent beforehand and it is easily seen in her debut mini-album released almost three years ago (wow, how time flies). I was very surprised by the maturity IU has in her voice and while some of the songs on the album were not very interesting, there was quite a few gems. Some of slower song just seem a bit too much for her.

B+