IU continues her impressive 2013 with “Friday”, a song which is a welcomed injection of fluffy warmth in the cold dead of winter.
There may be no more sure-fire consistent pop star in K-Pop than IU. The girl has managed to morph from teeny-bopper pop song maker into the timeless princess of K-Pop and each release only seems to solidify IU’s status atop Adorable Mountain. “Friday” reflects the best that IU has to offer, a refreshingly cheerful and low-key number that should warm hearts in time for the holidays.
“Friday” has all the trappings of a great IU song. Like almost everything involving the Nation’s Little Sister, electronic dance beats and synths are nowhere to be found. Instead, “Friday” is all jaunty jazz, a soothing mixture of bass, acoustic guitar, piano and percussion. The bass is driven up so that the entire thing sounds rich without being overwhelming. The guitars go at a nice tempo and they stay relatively low so that the real star of the show, IU, can shine through all the brighter. And does IU shine. She may have the best range out of all K-Pop performers working today. IU goes into the upper registers quite a bit here, and yet it sounds so easy (which is necessary to complete the illusion of the ease with which “Friday” presents itself). Every rasp and breath comes through and IU’s slight vibratto is a respite from K-Pop’s usual tendency to mask vocal talent (or lack thereof) with aggressive autotuning or sing-rapping. HISTORY’s Yijeong does some great vocal work of his own in a guest spot and the production makes sure to highlight the smoothness of its vocalists’ deliveries. “Friday” sounds timeless, like a song that would be played by a fireplace during the winter. That timelessness fits right within IU’s wheelhouse, and when it sounds this good, it’s not hard to hear why IU always seems stuck out of time in her work.
The video is pretty great too. It takes one of IU’s biggest weaknesses (dancing) and compensates for it by… not having her dance at all! Instead, the direction and editing make it a story about IU being in love or whatever (the plot is not what makes this a good video). Warm whites and yellows dominate the proceedings which help solidify an environment that is dream-like, winter yet soothing. The camera work is phenomenal. The single cut is put to great use as the constant pan from one setting to the next is a joy to see once one catches on to the fact that there will be no visible cut during the video. The best part about it is that it never feels gimmicky or forced. Instead, the casual way that the camera swoops around the two lovers complements the singing and cheery beat in such a way that it helps tie together the entire work into one heartwarming ball of joy. IU could have done this video in her sleep, but while everyone focuses in on the kiss scene, the way she prances about and smiles is basically new-found-love personified. The girl simply radiates on screen in a way that is cinematic, not only aural. There is a comfort in watching IU do her thang that is nearly as much a trademark as her vocals.
“Friday” essentially hones IU down to her main strengths and let’s her loose. In K-Po,p it is not too often that a performer is able to find a signature sound that seems tailored made for them. Part of that is the way that K-Pop stars are
manufactured trained. Part of it is that lightning can only be bottled every so often. IU is that lightning, even though that snagged electricity seems to be powering a princess’ castle. “Friday” doesn’t surprise but that is besides the point. Nothing about IU surprises and that can be just as valuable, if not more so, than pop’s ability to shock (she will have to “grow up” at some point, but growing up doesn’t have to mean “be sexual”). If “Good Day” is a pleasant trip down a sled of freshly fallen snow then “Friday” is comfort food coming in from the cold. The holidays are all about reminiscing on the year and finding the comfort in the familiar. In that way, IU and “Friday” are perfect for the time of year.
Rating: Warm cookies and milk by a fireplace. It’s that good.