Monday, April 24th, 2017

IU – Through the Night

…and how do we feel about ballads?


Maxwell Cavaseno: The age old saga of an artist mistaking softness and acoustics for value in the wake of their pop career. The arrangement’s fine, but if this were anyone but IU, I’d wonder how this got as far as it did. Even then I have to wonder how so boring and generic a song got indicated as a good idea for a single.

Will Adams: It’s hard to fault “Through the Night” when its delicate acoustics are executed so well (thanks mostly to IU’s up-close singing). I’m just wondering if we’re ever gonna get another “Sogyeokdong.”

Ryo Miyauchi: The video helps explain why IU’s singing so soft and why she’s dancing around her words. Her bashfulness gives way to a tender ballad that wraps up her new album nicely. But charming as she makes it, her love letter unravels a little too slow as a first impression for her comeback.

Madeleine Lee: “Through the Night” falls into the genre of ballad that’s comforting to listen to for its predictability. IU’s delicate singing is always a treat, and it’s the only thing that makes this song stand out; when it’s placed as the second of four consecutive quiet, slow songs on her album’s tracklist, it fades into the background.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: IU does acoustic, folkish ballads better than almost everyone in K-Pop, but this is far from a back-to-basics approach. There is a deep sense of growth in the cohesion of this track, from the playing of those guitar chord progressions to the sound mixing, and IU’s sweet tone carries the song exquisitely, even when it feels more restrained than usual in this setting. Perhaps “Through the Night” is a bit too long for its own good, but what an effective slow burner it is. 

Mark Sinker: Whether you’re 15 or 38 or 85, the magnificent, goofy thing about falling in love — or just feeling in love — is that it does two things at once: first is bring you down to the exact same foolish frightened animal level as all the rest of the world; second is (paradoxically) convince you it’s an affair the like of which never was or again will be. IU has been too professionally busy since forever probably to have been the tongue-tied smitten shy newbie outsider the way you or I once were, and only able to converse to her diary about it in burning clichés — but she’s been working, all that same time, as a consummate craftsperson dealing in the source of many of them. This is a song literally made of nothing you haven’t heard elsewhere: her held-in strength as a performer, her precise iron-clad reserve, brings something to it that’s interesting and true, really a kind of fragile anonymity.

Jonathan Bradley: IU is a careful balladeer, and “Through the Night” is characteristically delicate. It is all the more lovely for it. There is no tension in its dappled calm — to my anglophone ears it sounds like spring sun with no hint of twilight — and its art is in the slow-motion glimmers it arranges against a light of brilliant nothing.

Reader average: [4.5] (2 votes)

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11 Responses to “IU – Through the Night”

  1. this is pretty enough but i really want to know where the video for “Jam Jam” is

  2. I was really hoping you guys would go straight for the lead single Palette instead of this buzz release (though all of them dominate the chart) since that’s where she gets interesting in conversation with her previous lead single.

  3. As for this one though I prefer her ballads when she adds a touch of character to the music as well as words – the gorgeous folk lite ‘Heart’, for example. On this one she’s just written the lyrics though.

  4. Recently hearing a lot of ‘cafe’ k-pop and personally I don’t like it but is this an actual phenomenon or just bad luck of the listening I’ve been suggested/exposed to?

  5. yeah but have y’all heard “palette”

  6. Maxwell: do you mean K-ballads or the regular Sturgeon’s Law of Top 40 radio?

  7. “Palette” is *chef kiss* and I’m sure it’s because I’m turning 25

  8. and ok I’m glad I’m not the only one wondering “huh but where is the ‘Jam Jam’ vid tho’

  9. AG; not even ballads! A lot of recent music has been intimate acoustic duets, or things with a very ‘softer’ feel or even the dancey/rap-influenced numbers are much less driven? And IU has kind of logically progressed in that direction. Certainly I get that it’s spring and easy, breezy vibes is the way to go right now but I didn’t know if this was just me feeling restless or a certain thing going on At The Moment.

  10. I did think last year was going to be “the year of the ballad” for mainstream K-pop so maybe this is just a recurring thing in spring or a general direction that we’ve been heading in since the last few years?
    Other theories: 1) it’s easier to have a mainstream hit in Korea with cafe-pop than with idol pop (like that year “Some” was everywhere, ugh) and pop from older/more experienced idols is shifting in that direction; 2) we outside of Korea are generally more exposed now to the stuff on Korean charts that isn’t idol pop.

  11. Cafe pop has been huge for a decade and no wonder with all those cafes in Seoul.

    Having said that the two top IU tracks on charts now are synth jam Palette and her Ohhyuk rnb collaboration. She sweetens the pill with some safe songs and then releases more unique, personal tracks alongside them — same with last album, ballad buzz singles and the funky, confrontational ‘Twenty-three’ as lead single. It’s a good recipe for being allowed to do and write what you want and remain the biggest seller in KOrea.