IU already got my attention earlier this year with “Through the Night” and “Can’t Love You Anymore,” and now she’s offered up an even better release, Palette.” This song and its music video are pleasingly self-aware, explicitly speaking to the singer’s life and present state, making an already polished product indelibly real. Listening to it, you recognize words that communicate the common experience people face passing from one life stage to the next, reforming one’s identity in the process. IU exhibits a true tour de force, and G-Dragon‘s appearance on the track is just an added bonus; IU shines through in the vocals, the visuals, and the narrative.
Subtle percussion with a modern twist marks the song, which is a light R&B track. Great for mellow listening, the music conveys a relaxed feeling, and feels fittingly mature. The lyrics deal with growing into adulthood and feeling comfortable with oneself, and the sounds behind them are similarly developed, lacking the high-tempo flurry of adolescence and bubblegum pop, yet still vibrant, carrying the energy that comes with early adulthood.
I absolutely adore the lyrics to “Palette.” They are poignant, humorous in their reflection on youth, and fearlessly IU. Gorgeously evoking the transition from childhood uncertainty and innocence to mid-twenties self-assuredness, the track speaks to the wisdom that a few years can provide and the profound shifts that can occur. The fire of younger days has calmed, as “Rather than hot pink I like a deep purple,” and now “I like things a little outdated;” there is no more need for all the new wonders of today, rather a willingness to slow down and take life as one pleases. Above all, the words project the courage to believe in oneself, to embrace fully one’s own desires, to know that to be oneself is “truly fine,” even if one is already “twenty-five.” Aging is not a punishment, it is a stunning part of life that provides new opportunities to learn about oneself and rediscover life’s opportunities. Best of all, we get to hear that message in this track with examples from IU‘s experience, with her looking back on her younger self warmly, but not regretting her present life.
IU‘s vocals are simply splendid, unsurprisingly. Her singing is absolutely melodic and carries an airy quality that keeps you reaching for the next word, grasping for more. The words flow out fluidly in a way that confirms that they are genuine, backed perfectly by her intonation. G-Dragon‘s rap solo in the track’s center adds flavor, bringing in a more concrete flair to balance the ethereal quality of IU‘s singing. Together, the two make an excellent pair vocally, although IU rightfully takes the forefront–it is her song after all.
In the short choreography featured in the music video, IU moves as confidently as she sings, flowing elegantly along to the music. As she slides along, you’ll definitely believe what she’s singing, that she is sure of herself and knows what she is doing. Look out for full live performances, because the small snapshot pictured in the video makes me hopeful for a fantastic complete choreography.
Just as the song itself acknowledges itself and its singer repeatedly, so too does the video recognize the fact that it is a music video on a computer, not part of reality. With blinking error messages, flying Instagram hearts, and familiar ITunes windows, you are reminded several times that this is just a movie. These bits are just one of the charming ways this video provides playfulness and beauty. The entire production is pleasantly minimalist, leaving one element or another in the center with little on the periphery to distract you. Never does this approach feel like too little, though, for IU‘s joking facial expressions and cute mimicking of younger performances will keep you laughing, while the occasional pops of vibrant lighting and her posing in numerous ravishing outfits will keep you enthralled.
THE FINAL VERDICT
There is nothing to dislike with this track; the music is spot-on, the vocals are spectacular, the lyrics are fresh, but relatable, and the music video is unique and dazzling. All that’s left is to wait for a full dance performance. Easily my favourite IU track yet this year–and perhaps overall–“Palette” projects a hopeful message that I believe is worth taking to heart about embracing one’s life. On a simpler level, the song makes for excellent listening even if one doesn’t want to consider the meaning.
Music Video 8.5/10