I’ve usually associated IU with a very cutesy image who appeals to what K-pop people call “Uncle Fans,” who are basically older men who idolize the idol in question, mostly for their sweet, innocent, child-like image. I’m not a huge fan of 20 year old people acting like they’re 8 to say the least, and as a result I’ve basically avoided IU like the plague. That is, until I came across this song.
I knew from day one that IU was a good singer, but what I didn’t know was that she released awesome songs like “Mia.” “Mia” completely contracts most of what I associate with IU. It’s dark, haunting, mature, and emotional; not at all like the IU of “Marshmallow,” or “Good Day.” To this day, “Mia” remains as one of my favorite K-pop songs of all time.
Unfortunately for IU (and myself), the reality is that dark music doesn’t tend to sell well in the K-pop world. “Mia” was IU’s first promotional piece, and to be frank, it kind of flopped, despite being an incredible song. After the overwhelming success of her cutesier songs, she would drop the mature image and go for the one that brought her the most success—the “living doll.” What’s interesting however, is that her “cute” image isn’t her acting like a dunce, it really has to do with her purity and youthfulness, coupled with light and feathery voice. Though I associate most of her music with the fantasies of childhood, they never seem to sacrifice musical maturity to accomplish that. It’s weird dichotomy that doesn’t seem to make much sense when spend too much time thinking about it, so I won’t. However, this odd mash is what makes IU carry a fantastic ethereal sound that you don’t really see anywhere else in K-pop.