The nippy winter is in full swing -- time to take out the cozy essentials like a fuzzy blanket, padded coat and, most importantly, a renewed winter playlist.
And just in time, K-pop fans have recently been treated to a new album from IU, whose sweet, comforting vocals make her one of the most sought-after acts this time of the season.
While the chart-topping singer-songwriter is beloved regardless of the weather, many of her emotional ballads have especially served as a remedy for winter blues, all the more for their poetic lyrics and her sophisticated delivery. Celebrating her return with the sweeping “Love Poem” album, here are 10 relaxing songs by IU that will keep you company on a winter night.
IU (Kakao M)
1. “Love Poem” (2019)
Preceded by the release of IU’s latest “Love Poem” EP, the song is a warm ode to those struggling with life out there.
Kicking off with somber piano chords, this sentimental ballad slowly swells into emotional richness that evokes a whirlwind of feelings. Its soul-stirring melody strikes a balance between sadness and darkness, but IU makes sure to heal wounded hearts by belting out, “Take a deep breath. I’ll sing for you who has forgotten how to cry out loud” in the refrain. The “Love Poem” EP had been delayed from its original release following the death of singer and actress Sulli, a close friend of IU.
2. “Dear Name” (2017)
One of the double titles from IU’s popular “Palette” album, the evocative ballad begins with a gentle piano-and-string croon that climaxes into a breathtaking belt session where IU’s vocal prowess truly shines. Co-written by the singer herself and composer Kim Ee-na, the song “is a story of all of us, a song of consolation and reconciliation for everyone,” to quote IU, with its heartwarming lyrics addressing that all the “names” worldwide deserve to be known.
IU performed the song at the 2017 Melon Music Awards with lesser-known aspiring musicians to better deliver the song’s message.
3. “Ending Scene” (2017)
Also released on the singer’s “Palette” album, this fan-favorite stirring ballad, composed by singer-songwriter Sam Kim, details a post-breakup feeling.
Smoothly escalating from IU’s sophisticated, narration-like vocals, the song soars into an impassioned refrain where IU hopes a lover finds someone that loves him as much as he loves himself. The song was covered by a number of fellow musicians, including BTS’ Jungkook and Paul Kim.
4. “Through the Night” (2017)
This soft folk-ballad is one of IU’s most critical hits, speaking to her impressive songwriting skill.
The self-written song portrays a woman who pens a heartfelt letter for her lover one peaceful summer night. Minimalized on instruments -- majorly led by acoustic guitar -- the song shimmers on her velvety vocals and poetic lyrics, receiving kudos from many music critics. The award-winning song has also appealed widely to the public for its comforting feelings, a key to its long-lasting success on the charts.
IU once named “Through the Night” as one of her most representative songs, saying, “I wish people could remember this song after I die.”
5. “Knees” (2015)
Providing listeners a home-like sense of comfort, “Knees” is soothing and calming to the heart. Composed and penned by IU, the singer reportedly wrote the song when she struggled with insomnia, missing her grandmother who used to put her to bed when she was young.
Led by a simple piano chord, the song is beloved by many fans for its lullaby-like melody and nostalgic lyrics, praised as “one of the best songs to listen to on sleepless nights.”
6. “Only I Didn’t Know” (2011)
From its heart-wrenching lyrics to saccharine melody, this tear-jerking ballad is the ultimate breakup anthem. Composed by renowned composer Yoon Sang and written by lyricist Kim Ee-na, the song has completely altered IU’s girl-next-door image from her breakout hit “Good Day” into a maturing artist on her own.
The singer’s meticulous delivery of the song was also highly praised given that she was only 18 years old when she promoted it.
7. “Seeking for a Star” (2011)
Composed by veteran singer-songwriter Kim Kwang-jin, this orchestral ballad released on IU’s “Last Fantasy” album sounds like a beautiful poem.
Lyrically, it’s about missing someone she once loved before but can’t see anymore, equating that person to “a star in my heart.” Its highlight comes when the singer’s soaring vocals are paired with the mellifluous chorus done by Kim, who participated in the song to add a whole other layer.
8. “The First Breakup, That Night” (2010)
This one’s not a typical breakup ballad.
Composed and penned by singer-songwriter Yoon Jong-shin, its lyrics that crudely depict post-breakup feelings are easily relatable, while its melody that vacillates between melancholy and saccharine creates mixed feelings. The song, which was released on IU’s iconic “Real” EP, has been overshadowed by the album’s infamous “Good Day,” but it is another hidden gem that deserves better recognition.
9. “Riding on a Train” (2009)
Part of her early discography, “Riding on a Train” may sound like a classical production due to its easy-on-the-ear melody, but fans still choose it as one of IU’s best works that they put on repeat.
Lyrically, IU sings about how she hopes to leave behind lingering breakup pains and memories by hopping on a train. It’s been nearly a decade since its release, but this polished ballad never gets old.
10. “Lost Child” (2008)
It may come as a surprise that IU was only 15 years old when she debuted with “Lost Child,” an intensive ballad track that embraces a darker side of the singer.
The song failed to make a splash at the time, which proved difficult for IU in her early days, but the mature vocal styling and emotional expression made it an underappreciated work that has only recently resurfaced as an early masterpiece by the singer.
By Hong Dam-young (email@example.com)