Real is the third mini-album released by IU. It was considered her breakout hit due to the popularity of the promoted track, “Good Day”.
Released: December 9, 2010
1. This is Not What I Thought (이게 아닌데)
2. The Thing I Do Slowly (느리게 하는 일)
3. Good Day (좋은 날)
4. The Night of the First Breakup (첫 이별 그날 밤)
5. Alone in the Room (혼자 있는 방)
6. Merry Christmas in Advance (미리 메리 크리스마스)
7. Good Day (inst.)
This is Not What I Thought opens the album on a pretty cool note. It’s on the more mid-tempo pop side of things, but there is an intensity to it that is brought by the vocal performance and the static melody. I like that it plays around with its sound. The touch of strings is probably the best part of the song as it helps to create a piercing, but classic touch. I wish things were pushed even further in the final chorus, but this is a pretty solid piece.
IU’s voice works well with ballads and The Thing I Do Slowly is a great example of that. It starts with the acoustic guitar, but slowly starts to build up in power with strings and percussion. It takes a while for it to really hit its stride, but when it does, it’s quite stunning. The song is a bit on the usual sounding Korean ballad and it doesn’t particularly stand out. It’s still a pretty good offering though and a ballad done well.
There’s a reason that Good Day was a juggernaut hit and it’s just that it’s a journey. It’s discards the cuter sound that was prevalent in IU’s upbeat songs from her first few releases and tries to mature things by bringing a blend of pop and classical. Focusing on a mixture of violin, brass and guitar, the song has a rising quality to it where it continuously builds on itself. This is especially heard in the final minute where things culminate into the huge belting notes at the end. It’s just a refreshingly catchy tune.
The Night of the First Breakup isn’t different from what I was expecting. The song itself is a gentle acoustic tune but is still surprisingly light considering the topic. These kinds of songs can get a bit dull, but there is a tenderness to this one that I really enjoy. IU’s soft vocals match wonderfully here as well.
Alone in the Room continues the light acoustic sound, but changes things up by adding an R&B beat. This is easily my favourite of the album tracks because I love the R&B twist and IU surprisingly works it here and her light vocals just slide over the notes. The chorus is especially great and sounds like it could be heard in the U.S. The final chorus does a wonderful job of showcasing the potential that IU has as a vocalist.
Since this mini was released in the winter season, it’s not unexpected to see this Christmas tune come popping in. Merry Christmas in Advance is a weird song though and I feel like it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the mini. It has a really bright dance/pop sound that opens with a weird rap (by Thunder from MBLAQ). I feel like the melody is quite nice, but it would’ve worked with something slower and softer. It gets overpowered by the music.
Overall: This is a pretty strong mini and I would say it is IU’s strongest release up to this point. I was pleasantly surprised that she took her usual sound but matured it a little more while still retaining some stellar melodies. I do think that the final song was absolutely not needed and if it was left off, the album would’ve been stronger, but the first five songs are pretty solid.