IU expresses her singing confidence through “Lilac”


emily wong

IU’s fifth studio album Lilac displayed her ability to confidently sing in all genres of music.

Ashley Lee, Staff Writer

South Korean singer IU released her fifth studio album “Lilac” on March 25, 2021, surprising everyone with the many genres it held in just one album. The 25 year old singer debuted on Sep. 18, 2008 with the EP “Lost and Found”  at age 15, and has since also released nine EPs and 20 singles. The album “Lilac” includes 10 songs: “Lilac”, “Flu”, “Coin”, “Hello Spring Bye”, “Celebrity”, “Troll”, “Empty Cup”, “My Sea”, “Ah Puh”, and “Epilogue”, with “Lilac” and “Coin” being the title tracks. The genres vary from a ballad to an upbeat dance song, and the singer proves that she is confident in any genre.

The title song, “Lilac” immediately grabs the listener’s attention with IU’s delicate vocals and the contrasting lyrics talking about how she wants the “perfect” break-up. The music video starts in a train station with a list of train stations in the background, listing the names of her past albums. The melody highlights her singing abilities, and mixes with her voice as if it was a part of the melody, not two different parts put together, showing how her vocals can easily conceal the lyrics that may be a sad topic for some.

“Hello Spring Bye” brings a mystic atmosphere with the song, and reminds the listener that spring always comes even after a long winter.

If “Lilac” talked about one of the most common themes for lyrics, “Coin” talks about a unique theme: gambling. The lyrics show how her life as a singer has been like gambling, and how she “Can’t die,” because she’s, “all in.” The upbeat dance track has the listener dancing along to it, and shows how confident IU can be in a song with a unique topic. The music video portrays her appearance of someone who is new into the world, and slowly progresses into someone who becomes “richer” through betting, exemplifying how she has succeeded as a singer. The high and low vocal range keeps the listener focused on the song, and is a song that the singer was able to make it sound like her own.

“Hello Spring Bye” brings a mystic atmosphere with the song, and reminds the listener that spring always comes even after a long winter. She describes that she was in the spring phase, where everything looked beautiful, and suddenly she said good-bye to the spring. Her voice that is usually light gives off a feeling of sadness after a break-up, and delivers the feeling to the listener as she says, “Spring, you must have been spring to me,” meaning that they were the happiness to her, and relays the message of hope through the meaningful lyrics.

The sixth song of the album, “Troll,” featuring Dean,  a South Korean singer-songwriter and rapper, gives the listener happiness from how light-hearted the melody is. The lyrics convey a message of two people who are stuck in repeated thoughts and can’t get out of it, saying, “We’re stuck in a circle, We’re going back to back, so it can never end.” Dean’s voice and IU’s voice, although opposite in both singing styles and tones, fit well together, giving the feeling of two mischievous kids playing around with each other. 

The seventh song of the album, “Empty Cup” has very meaningful lyrics, as it talks about the difficulties of being a singer, and the hate she received from some people. She mentions, “you can blame and claw at me all you want,” signifying how she is tired of being criticized, and has given up at trying to satisfy everyone. IU’s vocals convey the pressure and the emptiness that being a singer gives in a very strong way.

The slowest song of the album, “My Sea,” sets an entirely different mood from the other songs. Although “Empty Cup” was a slow song, “My Sea” conveys the difficulties that IU faced while trying to find herself, and how “There are things that don’t heal even after time because I don’t love me completely.” The soft piano sounds add a bit more sentiment into the listeners heart as it leaves the song in an open form.

“Epilogue” ends the album like the perfect ending everyone wanted to a show, with the speed being not too slow, but not fast at all. As a closing song, her voice mixes in perfectly with the guitar and light drum sounds in the background, calming the listener down, but still keeping a bit of the excitement. As an ending song, IU once again proved that she can cleanly wrap up an album using her singing style.

Throughout the whole album, IU portrays many different genres, ranging from a slow ballad to an upbeat and playful song, successfully singing all. All the different genres represent some of the different styles of music she has composed and written throughout her career, and has combined them into the last album of her 20’s. The different genres that IU sang with her personal style had the listener focused on the songs from the first song, “Lilac,” to the final song, “Epilogue,” proving once again that she can sing in different genres.