Earlier I posted an entry mentioning that IU’s newest mini-album was coming out. Since I really liked it, I decided to write my thoughts down.
I think it was my first time ever to really looking forward to an album release. I used to just wait for it to be available while doing all other things, used to think “What’s the rush?”. Then that day on kites (a forum in Vietnamese, concentrating in entertainment, well-known for Vietnamese subtitles for Korean stuffs), many of us Uaenas (IU’s fans) were online, we were talking about the things we wrote for IU’s birthday and naturally I joined in the wait (I didn’t turn to facebook since it’s usually dead quiet when it comes to Korean music, which is such a shame…). When it first came out, I listened to the preview of a minute each song on MelOn (a Korean online music store), and I fell in love immediately. It was heavenly good for the ears, especially the first song named My Old Story which was also the title song for the album. It’s very rare for me to like the title song of any IU’s album, this time was the first.
Before I talk more about the songs, I want to explain a bit about the background of this album. It’s a remake album, not from IU’s previous songs but ones from the last decades. IU personally chose the songs she wanted to sing, and for some she also asked the original artists to help. About the title “A Flower Bookmark“, IU said:
For this album, just as the name suggests,
it’s like the kind of flower… that people would stick in their books in the past.
Then someday when you’re flipping through the pages, you find the flower again!
In that moment, it’s like receiving an unexpected gift
and memories from the past resurface.
It’s that sort of feeling.
Beautiful, isn’t it? At first I thought it was like maintaining the beauty of the songs from the past, no matter how much time passes it will always be pretty, but it sounds even better with her explanation.
The color theme of the album was purple.
There were some guesses but we didn’t know for sure since there was no official explanation. My personal guess was that purple was the color of the past (I’ve had this impression ever since I was a child, for reasons I don’t remember). It has quite a nostalgic feeling whenever I think about it. IU’s personal favorite color is yellow. When these two colors come together, they actually fall nicely into places, combining IU’s favorite color and the feeling of the past for the remake album. I kind of have the image in my mind that they all throw in ideas, as it seems to often be like that from the BTS and IU’s talks every now and then.
A Flower Bookmark had in total of 7 songs. Before I go deeper into each song, I would recommend you to put on headphones and listen to the preview of a minute each song like I did from here (I know it’s all Korean but the buttons are familiar, and actually it should play automatically when the window opens). I recommend this because when you watch the MV, you will be easily distracted by the story-line and the lyrics, and forget about the pure pleasure of IU’s voice and the instruments sounds and the emotions the song itself brings. Please do put on headphones, close your eyes, really listen to the music, and absorb it all.
And here’s the whole album.
The first song, as I said, was My Old Story. I watched a couple of MV reactions. I was never interested in reaction videos, just that this time I wondered whether anyone had the same reaction as I did. Of course it was different I guess, since I listened to the song first before I watched the MV (the album was released at midnight, and then the MV was released at around noon). I had no idea if any of them did it like I did, but from my impression, their first interaction ever with the song was also with the MV. Only one of them had similar reaction with mine. I held my breath the moment I heard IU’s voice.
It wasn’t midnight here in Finland when I first listened to it. Midnight in Korea means 6p.m here in Finland. It was quiet enough here though. Together with the eagerness and excitement shared with other Uaenas (10p.m at the time in Vietnam), it created quite an atmosphere. I was mesmerized already with the sound of the piano at the beginning, then IU sang the first notes and I was breathless, speechless. She had such an angelic soothing voice. I had liked her voice long ago but it had always taken me time to get used to the title song; this time it was just perfect. Her husky voice was soft like wind like air, effortlessly beautiful. I was floating into the gentle sounds and nostalgic feelings. The piano and the accordion blended nicely together, which was tender and brought a deep sense of nostalgia, fitting well with the general feel of the whole song. IU asked Cho Deok Bae (original composer and singer of this song) to listen to her cover and he seemed to be satisfied with the result.
Then about the MV…
My interpretation for this MV was that it was about a girl who liked a person and had the feeling that he liked her, too. However, the boy, for some reason, couldn’t confess to her, so she was wondering whether he was too shy to say it, or he didn’t like her for real. Up until now, she didn’t have the answer.
Without words of love
Days gone by in waste
Did you know about them?
You naive one
You’re taking away
You cruel one
Maybe you were too shy to say
Maybe you didn’t like me
I still have no idea
One of the Uaenas on kites said that Cho Deok Bae also wrote a song named Letter, about a boy who liked a girl, writing a letter to her but wasn’t able to hand it; so this MV would be about this girl knowing about the fact, telling the boy her feelings on the radio, waiting him through the night but he didn’t come, finally he knew her heart and was regretful.
However, there was another explanation which was confirmed by IU herself in a BTS video. “A guy and a girl miss each other after they broke up so they recall their story”. It explained why not only the girl but the guy was also crying. I personally never regretted any of my breakups, and I was bothered about the guy’s cry which was a bit over the top (which was supposed to be that way, I guess, but still). So at the beginning, I really liked this MV with my own view of the story base on the lyrics and I took the guy’s cry only a bit of sand. Then when I knew the real message, it kind of turned my mood off and what I didn’t like became more significant. It was still beautiful, I especially liked the way they portrayed the story – the guy on the bench, him being hesitated at the phone booth, him being in the car on one side looking at IU’s seat and her being there at different times, the beautiful flowers and the old-style radio mic, his shadow of him trying to write letters to her reflecting on a wall full of old photos,… Everything was beautiful, conveying the feel of longing for the past. It was just me. I still liked it, it was still my most favorite song in the album, I just didn’t share the same feeling with it anymore. For my own peace of mind, I refused to accept its real meaning : p I left it to my own interpretation. When I listened to the song, I didn’t think much about it anyway.
The third song was A Pierrot Smiles at Us. It made quite a confusion when the third teaser for the album was about this song, since the previous two teasers created quite a gentle mood and then suddenly this retro dance teaser came out with the setting as if it was going to be the title song (now we all know it wasn’t, but at the time it created quite a buzz). (Inserting the BTS video since I liked it better)
This song would be very suitable for the title song if she decided to promote this album. It didn’t capture me from the beginning but it gradually grew in me the more I listened to it. Plus, it would be more fitting to perform on music shows since she could dance along. Of course it would be very different with Kim Wan Sun (the one who was considered as Madonna/female Michael Jackson of South Korea, this song was originally hers), but it would be fun nonetheless. I also like its quirky lyrics.
The fourth song was When Love Passes. This song with the sixth song Midsummer Night’s Dream, they took me a while to differentiate. They were both very nice and soothing, it was just a bit difficult for me to recognize them separately at first. I think both of these were composed by Yoon Sang and he rearranged it for IU? Yoon Sang was known to collaborate with IU for a long time already, notably with The Story Only I Didn’t Know.
The fifth song The Meaning of You was my second favorite from the album. It sounded refreshing and harmonious, as if I could even hear the sound of their genuine laughs in there. I thought Flower would be the most difficult song to sing in this album, but according to IU, this song was the most difficult. She had to ask Kim Chang Wan (this song was originally his) to come and help her.
The last song, which was also my third favorite, was Kung Ddari Sha Bah Rah. An Uaena told me the original song was very funny, but my Internet connection went off when I attempt to listen to all the original songs before IU’s album release and my mood for it wasn’t recovered since then, so I didn’t know about that. IU’s version had such a pure feeling to it though, like a folk song. Whenever I listened to it, it made me feel as if I was running on a sunny windy greeny field. It made me want to go out and have fun in the nature. I also liked IU’s slow rap along with Clon (the song was originally theirs, and they lent their voice in this).
Here’s the BTS of the recordings for some of the songs:
Here’s the BTS of the photoshoot for the photobook (it’s so pretty and also fun, like a piece of art iself, I never get tired of watching it):
I kind of got the pattern that IU would release a full album at around the end of the year, then she would release something lighter in May for her birthday. The fact that she didn’t do any broadcast promotions for this mini-album ‘A Flower Bookmark’ was a pity but it didn’t surprise me. Many people were surprised, which was reasonable, considering how good this album was. But even without any broadcast promotions, she gradually achieved all-kill, then certified all-kill, and finally perfect all-kill on Instiz iChart (the chart that combines all 10 charts in South Korea) with My Old Story. Most artists would have chance to achieve an All-Kill (no.1 on 6~7 charts) when they first release their song/album. A Certified All-Kill takes longer to happen, being no.1 on both real-time chart and daily chart on all 10 charts. It will be marked with green badge by Instiz.
Perfect All-Kill (marked with a red badge) is an Certified All-Kill on weekly chart. Therefore, it’s very rare and hard to achieve. (Since it’s counted for weekly chart, we were a bit worried that she couldn’t achieve it since the album was released toward the end of the week, exactly on her birthday. It would be easier if it was released at the beginning of the week, but we can’t change her birthday just to achieve some charts right : p And she proved IU’s power again. Why worry, huh? ^^)
IU’s My Old Story Perfect All-Kill was also the first Perfect All-Kill of a Korean artist in 2014. Before it was Let It Go by Idina Menzel, and before Let It Go was also IU with Friday at the end of last year. And who says IU’s popularity in Korea was dead? It’s enormous! And not only digital sales, ‘A Flower Bookmark’ also ranked 2nd for physical album sales on Gaon chart (the week of May 18 to May 24). I’m so proud of her!
I kind of want to talk about her concert but this is like an overwhelming amount of information already… Maybe next time, or not, it depends. : p
Just a last bit. I thought this album would only suitable to listen at night, but it’s nice to listen to it during the day as well. Last time I went out for a walk on a sunny day, the wind was blowing the pollen softly across the sky, my mind was fresh and it felt like I was in heaven. (I know it would be hell for people with pollen allergy, but you know what I mean).
Ah, yes, before I forget. This album, to many people as well as critics, marks IU’s maturity, not as an idol anymore but more like an artist. I saw it coming already since ‘Last Fantasy’, ‘Modern Times’ made it clearer, and it was proved in this ‘A Flower Bookmark’. IU never failed to surprise me. Every time when I thought it would be the best already, she brought something else to the table and totally caught me off-guard. She’s not following any trend in K-pop now. She’s making her own path.