If you aren’t a K-pop fan and/or don’t live in South Korea, you could be forgiven for not realizing, but IU is Queen. Capital Q.
While the likes of BTS and BLACKPINK make the biggest waves abroad, arguably no artist possesses more good will, respect, and popularity within their home country than IU. Walking around Busan or Seoul, it’s entirely plausible that you might hear her songs playing from truly every single storefront along any given street (can personally testify to this having happened on several occasions.)
Far more than a K-pop star, the solo artist has already had a long, artful career (she’s only 26, but her Korean age is 28, a major theme of her new single, along with the COVID-19 epidemic). Whereas many of our favorite K-pop artists are products of think tanks, IU is defiantly self-reliant. She writes her lyrics, often composes her music, plays several instruments, conceives her own concepts, and far more. Her latest releases have even been entirely self-produced.
So, then, it was a bit of a surprise when IU recently announced that her latest single was produced alongside none other than BTS’ SUGA. However, in many ways, it made perfect sense. The megapopular rapper has been open about his fanboy admiration of IU, and she’s returned the shout outs on several occasions.
Beyond that, despite IU’s general hesitation to change her formula to reach more Western listeners, the increased visibility of K-pop and her own music abroad alike has surely whet her appetite for expanding her fanbase.
“Eight” feels like a clear move to reach more foreign ears, and, thankfully, it somehow sacrifices none of IU’s charm. Its sumptuous groove and expansive (and surely expensive, sheesh!) music video tap into the very best sides of her artistry, with her emotive, invasively honest lyrics on display as much as ever.
Speaking on her latest single, IU reflected, “‘Eight’ is like a short novel of confession of my twenty-eight-year-old self to the fictional character ‘you’ using various metaphors. I’m not sure whether it comes from my personal feelings or from the general atmosphere of society that is enduring tough times together due to disasters, but my 28-year-old life is likely to be remembered as a recurring helplessness and fatigue, and a longing for the ‘Orange Island’ where ‘we’ were not sad and could be free.“
Check the song, and its video, out below, and stay tuned for more from the Korean sensation soon.