Review: 아이유 IU [꽃갈피]

Celebrating the warmth that has finally embraced us, here’s to IU’s first remake album [Flower Bookmark] released in 2014 which is still as relevant as the original songs themselves.

Even if time passes, these songs never wear out. Surpassing generations and decades; their sentiments and romances remain dearly in our hearts, recalling memories or imaginations of our parents’ youthful days.

With a group of talented producers and musicians, IU brings new life to the songs by artists who are icons in the Korean music scene in their  folk ballads, experimental rock, or dance hip-hop; or letting those younger generations what voices, sounds, and words are at the backbone of many contemporary artists’ inspiration.

For your interest, here’s the review for [Flower Bookmark 2].


나의 옛날이야기 MY OLD STORY

A singing poet, 조덕배 Cho Duk Bae wrote this song as a recollection of his youth, of the years of love letters which filled his school notebooks yet never delivered to their rightful owners. This song was treasured in his heart until about ten years later in 1985 when he shared the letters to the world.

사랑한단 말 못하고 애태우던 그 날들을 Those days I anguished for not saying I love you 
당신은 알고 있었습니까 Did you know about this

철 없었던 지난 날의 아름답던 그 밤들을 Those beautiful nights when we were immature
아직도 난 사랑합니다 I am still in love

수줍어서 말 못했나 내가 싫어 말 안했나 Did I never say because I was shy. Did I never say because I disliked myself.
지금도 난 알 수 없어요 I still don’t know how I felt”

Instead of adapting the musical form and molding it through contemporary techniques, IU keeps the sentiments of the original song rendered through a young female’s perspective, as if a response to the young boy. The simplicity of strings and piano harmony, with accordion sounds recall the sweet romance of the analogue generation.

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꽃 FLOWER

The 1991 song of the legend of modern folk, 김광석 Kim Kwang Suk. He is the songwriting inspiration for many musicians, having touched the public’s heart with his words and melodies. He also remains dearly in our hearts, having left us at a very young age.

“꽃이 지네 산과 들 사이로 Flowers fall. Between the mountain and the meadow.
꽃이 지네 눈물같이 Flower fall. Like tears.
겨울이 훑어간 이 곳 This place. Where winter scattered.
바람만이 남은 이 곳에 This place. Where only wind is left.
꽃이 지네 꽃이 지네 Flowers fall. Flowers fall.
산과 들 사이로 Between the mountain and the meadow.”

Yearning exudes through his vocal and the trumpet sounds. To touch the sentiments of his poetry seems to be a difficult task. The guitar sounds of 황민웅 Hwang Min Oong ringing against IU’s delicate vocal cries along with the flowers. This remake would be the most beautiful if the two artists sang together.

“꽃이 피네 산과 들 사이로 Flowers bloom. Between the mountain and the meadow.
꽃이 피네 눈물같이 Flowesr bloom. Like tears.
봄이 다시 돌아온 이 곳 This place. Where spring returned.
그대 오지 않은 이 곳에 This place. Where you will never come back.
꽃이 피네 꽃이 피네 Flowers bloom. Flowers bloom.
산과 들 사이로 Between the mountain and the meadow.”

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삐에로 우릴 보고 웃지 THE PIERROT LAUGHS AT US

“빨간 모자를 눌러쓴 Drawing the red hat over the face
난 항상 웃음 간직한 삐에로 I am a pierrot, always embracing a smile
파란 웃음 뒤에는 아무도 모르는 눈물 Behind my blue smile, I have tears that no one knows”

The dance diva Korea had never seen before. 김완선 Kim Wan Sun is one of the top female solo artist of the 90’s. And it would be a lie if you’ve never heard this song before, even one of the numerous remakes.

“난 차라리 웃고 있는 삐에로가 좋아 I’d rather love the pierrot who smiles
난 차라리 슬픔 아는 삐에로가 좋아 I’d rather love the pierrot who understands sorrow”

IU’s remake may be the best I’ve ever heard. A daring transformation, the amalgamation of instruments with the impassive monotone of her vocal is a strange mix of analogue and contemporary. I love the repetitive sounds of clapping, keyboard, and the vocal, with the strong base of the drum. So many elements are happening, yet nothing clashes in complication.

Through its attempt to transform (rather than maintain much of the flow like many remakes), this remake recalls the powerful energy of the original while revitalizing the cynicism of the laughing pierrot.

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사랑이 지나가면 WHEN LOVE PASSES

The original song comes from the first album ever to sell 2 million copies in Korea.

If I had to pick an artist from my parent’s generation who I truly admire, that artist would be 이문세 Lee Moon Sae. A romanticist and a poet. My heart melts, cries, and smiles at his lyrics and vocals. His sentiments are as contemporary today as during the time of the release. The mixture of sadness of yearning, and happiness for memories, this is one of my favourites of his songs.

“그 사람 나를 보아도 나는 그 사람을 몰라요 Even when she looks at me, I don’t know her
두근거리는 마음은 아파도 이젠 그대를 몰라요 Even though my beating heart is in pain, I don’t know you
그대 나를 알아도 나는 기억을 못 합니다 Even if you know me, I don’t remember you
목이 메어와 눈물이 흘러도 사랑이 지나가면 Even if I choke and the tears fall, love passes”

If Lee Moon Sae’s vocal rings against the simple piano keys and percussions, IU’s vocal flows gently along the rhythmic flow. Despite generations, traces of affection and longing still lingers.

This is so beautiful.

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너의 의미 (FEAT. 김창완) MEANING OF YOU (FEAT. KIM CHANG WAN)

산울림 Sanulrim is the folk rock band that carries the naive romances of Korea in the 80’s. I interpret the band’s music to be a follower of their band name: 산 mountain + 울림 echo, reverberation, vibration. 

슬픔은 간이역의 코스모스로 피고 Sorrow is a whistle stop, cosmos flowers blooming
스쳐 불어온 넌 향긋한 바람 You are a fragrant wind passing by

나 이제 뭉게구름 위에 성을 짓고 I am now building a castle on the cumulus clouds
널 향해 창을 내리 바람 드는 창을 Opening the window for your wind to pass”

IU’s remake is composed by the band leader, 김창완 Kim Chang Wan, who also sings alongside her. A wonderful collaboration of warm sweet sounds.

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여름밤의 꿈 MIDSUMMER’S NIGHTS DREAM

김현식 Kim Hyun Sik, a name that can’t be missed in the history of Korean music. His 1988 song was the renowned singer-songwriter 윤상 Yoon-Sang‘s debut work when he was in high school. Carefully holding the young romance, 김현식’s husky thick voice melds perfectly.

“부드러운 노랫소리에 내 마음은 아이처럼 In your soft singing, my heart like a child
파란 추억의 바다로 뛰어가고 있네요 Runs towards an ocean of blue memories
깊은 밤 아름다운 그 시간은 이렇게 찾아와 The beautiful moment of midnight visits
마음을 물들이고 And stains my heart
영원한 여름밤의 꿈을 기억하고 있어요 I remember the dream of a summer that seemed to last forever
다시 아침이 밝아와도 잊혀지지 않도록 Let’s not forget, even if the morning brightens again”

A simple collaboration of 윤상’s piano and IU’s voice, the remake “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the smell of a warm summer breeze when time has slowed down.

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꿍따리 샤바라 KUNG DDARI SHA BAH RAH

A powerful performance that swept the public in 1996; 클론 Clon‘s title (hit) song is an epitome of energy and fun. Filled with rebellious energy, and inspiration of Californian youth of the 90’s, the music video tells it all:

다 그렇게 사는 거야 That’s how you live
희비가 엇갈리는 세상 속에서 When joy and sorrow miss each other
내일이 다시 찾아오기에 Until tomorrow comes again
우리는 희망을 안고 사는 거야 We will embrace hope and live on”

IU’s summer is a rest on the sandy beach, warm bright sun shining against her sunglasses, a tropical cocktail by her side, and a ukelele in her hand. Envision a beach full of tourists in Hawai’i. Envision all the stereotypical imagery of summer paradise.

IU calls the swaying of the winds which sways the waves. A 360 energy shift from the original, Clon’s featuring adds a nice humorous touch to the total relaxation.

“마음대로 일이 되지 않을 땐 When things don’t go the way you want
하던 일을 멈추고 여행을 떠나봐 Pause what you’re doing and go on a trip
바다를 찾아가 소릴 질러봐 Find an ocean and shout 
꿍따리 샤바라 빠빠빠빠 Kung ddari sha bah rah bbah bbah bbah bbah”

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IU’s remake albums are reminders of the beauty of music and storytelling; how songs are exceptions to time, and how those from decades ago can be both old diary entries or background music to new lives.