Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

IU – Celebrity

*camera flash* If IU wasn’t a celebrity, would we be so nice to she?


Crystal Leww: IU has been making songs that are very specific (and somewhat meta) musings on her life for over half a decade now at this point, and production wise, they’ve sounded like older things during this  stretch — “Blueming” belongs in the late ’90s, “Bbibbi” felt like coffeehouse pop of the ’00s, and “Palette” even name dropped Corrine Bailey Rae, for god’s sake. “Celebrity” feels like the natural progression of that trend — Korea’s biggest soloist doing a song called “Celebrity” is extremely on the nose. This would feel like a song that plays at the end of like The Princess Diaries if it weren’t for that future bass break. Both are things that were once popular and no longer are, but you know what? That’s true star power — to be making music that doesn’t necessarily push the boundaries but still sounds fresh. I’ve pressed repeat on this many times this winter because it just just so damn charming.

Joshua Lu: Pop star known for their singer-songwriter tendencies incorporates dated sonics for their comeback single and is met with immense, record-breaking success — this may very well be IU’s “Shape of You,” but with a bit less tropical house and more Chainsmokers Lite production. At least her voice is pretty.

Edward Okulicz: IU draws out a bit of charm, but this song is cheesy, dated and I’m sure it would be pilloried if it had been Generic Production Duo ft. Generic Singer. Charm only goes so far to mitigate against fluff and bilge.

Austin Nguyen: The bass drop comes out of left field, as does that synth razor around 0:21, but “you’re a star painted with a left hand” is the lyrical equivalent of a boop on the nose: a dumb endearing tease you can’t help but receive with a smile. Even if the bridge thins out to guitar balladry, the whole premise, really, feels like someone took the pseudo-stan comments friends leave each other under Instagram photos pro forma and made it more profound (alternatively: the signature section of a yearbook with the HAGS and HATS filtered out). I feel warm inside.

Juana Giaimo: We’ve all heard many encouraging songs about how being odd makes you beautiful. Most times, I find them too artificial and really hard to connect with. But on “Celebrity”, IU creates a sweet intimacy where I can see myself reflected in the person she describes. “Through the earphones, the music is all minor,” she sings in the first verse as her voice get lower, and in the pre-chorus and chorus, her voice starts getting more brighter with her complimentary words (my favorite line is “you’re star painted with a left hand”). The drop is upbeat, but not too upbeat to seem fake or out of place — it’s still delicate and slightly vulnerable as the rest of the song. 

Kayla Beardslee: The verse and prechorus melodies are honey-sweet, and IU’s voice is expressive, but this is the kind of song that lives and dies by its drop. Unfortunately, this drop sounds awful. If it’s any consolation, I like literally every single other song on her new album more!

Thomas Inskeep: Her voice is all too twee, and the production on this is all too “let’s try everything that’s worked in the last 5 years of pop,” which adds up to an all too big fat nothing. Actively annoying.

Nortey Dowuona: The fact of the matter is that shaky, spider silk synths melted over reggaeton seashell drums; stumbling bass chugs and crowing horn synths; chopped vocal stir fry over a Chainsmokers Trapping Like T.I. Pack; then shifting to slender guitar shakes with the lilting voice of IU just scans as well constructed mall pop to my Ghanaian brain that happens to have Korean lyrics. One of the things that kinda put me off K-Pop when I first started reviewing it was that it at first resembled that same mall pop I heard on Beats 1 or a solid recreation of R&B trap chart records folx like Anne-Marie, Tink or Trevor Jackson were already making. And now that I’m listening to this, that impression hasn’t changed. Especially since it’s structured and produced like English made mall pop. If not for the different language, I’d be unable to tell.

Rachel Saywitz: There’s always been a humbling quality to IU’s music, despite her being one of Korea’s most (one might argue the most) popular and recognizable artists. Even as she shifted from orchestral spectacles (produced by LOEN Entertainment’s highly versatile Lee Min-Soo) to her own minimal, self-written compositions, the childlike curiosity of her soft-spun lyrics and melodies never faded. “Celebrity” takes her self-effacing attitude to a different level, pointing out the smallest and most precious joy of fame and directing it towards an unsuspecting friend. With a dramatic flair of accented synths, she implores them to recognize that perfection means nothing in the face of love: “Can’t you see how beautiful / a uniqueness can be?” The song’s instrumental breakdown is a little hokey, but its provided a wholesome opportunity for fans and even other celebrities to show off their own uniqueness; IU led the charge herself on Instagram, posting bare-faced photos of her doing everyday activities that aren’t tied to the act of being famous. To be true, there is a certain privilege in claiming similarities between fame and normalcy, but IU doesn’t see any point in comparing the two. She is not highlighting the essence of overall celebrity, but instead capturing the affectionate view one might have of another — the “celebrity” of someone’s heart. 

Alfred Soto: The production crunches abetting an affected sweetness reminds me of Ariana Grande’s recent work, and here’s a rare example of my wishing I knew the sung language in case I missed a thing. As it stands, “Celebrity” is innocuous fun.

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One Response to “IU – Celebrity”

  1. If I reviewed this I would’ve compared her to Drake. Massive star that brings their sameish presence to every inescapable track, for better or for worse.

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