IU’s Vocal Analysis

Vocal Range

C#3 ~ C6 (2 Octaves, 5 notes & 1 semitone)

Supported Range

A3/Bb3 ~ A4/Bb4

Voice Type

Soprano

Strengths/Achievements

  • Decent Pitch
  • Consistent support up  to A4/Bb4
  • Resonant A4 done with a crescendo
  • Easily switches from Chest voice to falsetto
  • Good Sense of Dynamics
  • At times can bring nice support up to B4
  • Very smooth legato singing
  • Can produce resonant A4s/Bb4s at times
  • Relaxed sound down to Bb3

Weaknesses

  • Airy chest voice
  • Inconsistent placement in the Mix and Chest voice
  • Very strained sound above C5
  • Unstable vibrato
  • Below A3/Bb3 voice gets really airy
  • Airy head register
  • Produces a tight and not relaxed sound in chest voice at times
  • Bad Diction, uses jaw too often

Registers

  • Lower register: Although IU possesses a very extensive lower register expanding down to C#3, IU only supports the very beginning notes of her lower register. IU only being to support Bb3 and not much below that means. She has a very average lower register for a Soprano, especially a Soprano who sings K-POP. Below Bb3 IU’s voice loses pretty much all projection and becomes pretty much air.
  • Mixed register: IU’s mix is the most developed and consistent part of her voice. In the A4/Bb4 range she supports herself very well, even achieving resonance in this area. Sadly, support and resonance is not carried above Bb4. In the B4-C5 range IU’s voice is very unstable, tight, and nasal. Above that, the C#5-G5 range, her voice is extremely strident, unstable and badly placed.
  • Upper register: Instead of using a full, connected head voice IU instead uses a very airy and weak falsetto. Her falsetto around the C#5/D5 range stays pretty relaxed, but above it comes pretty strained. There are times that she produces a cleaner sounding falsetto, but it’s still falsetto.

Agility

Though IU is a Soprano she doesn’t have very good agility. When she does runs or just switches pitch she moves her jaw a lot which is not required when one does a melisma or a change of pitch. Aside from just moving her jaw when doing runs and switches of pitch she also moves it a lot while phrasing this is a sign of bad diction.

Overall analysis

IU is an example of a vocalist that relies more on style than technique. Her style is very much loved throughout South Korea and has definitely gotten her fame, but that doesn’t change the fact that she is lacking in vocal technique. IU is praised for her sweet, girly, youthful and emotive voice along with her “powerful” high notes, but all of that is superficial and has nothing to do with her actual technique, which also is a misconception.

IU’s chest voice is airy, unintentionally airy that is. Her airy tone is being produced by a lack of connection with the vocal folds. The tone can also be related to her not completely pulling her sound into the mask while singing. This kind of airy tone is pretty much present in every single one of her performances. An airy tone isn’t necessarily bad, it’s a good effect when the singer can switch between a full connected tone and an airy tone, but IU has yet to show she can willingly switch between the two. Due to not pulling her sound forward in the mask, her tone production in the chest voice can be lacking in fullness and power which leads to her having a frail and sometimes flat sounding tone, not to mention nasal.

Her lower register is surprisingly extensive especially because she is a Soprano. Her lower register extends all the way down to C#3 which is only a semitone away from C3, which is the last note of the third octave. Her lower register, like her chest voice, is also pretty airy even on Bb3 and A3 notes that she support. In her Performance “Lucky” with CN Blue’s Yonghwa she does a Bb3 and even though it is supported and relaxed it’s not very forward. The lower IU goes the less projection her lower notes gets in “Friday” in the beginning she phrases very quiet and airy D3s. Now, D3 is a very low note for a Soprano, but the F3-A3 range is no different, she loses projection the lower she goes down.

The mix register is her most developed register, she sounds most comfortable in the A4/Bb4 area that is also the only area she has resonance in. On B4 and C5 she sounds unstable and tight in the throat. An example of this in the studio would be “Flower” here she does a sustained C5. This C5 is very unstable which is exemplified by the unstable and shaky vibrato also tight, which is demonstrated by the whiny tone quality. However in the same audio she does a resonant A4 with a crescendo. The A4 is very well placed with a nice round sound, but the vibrato towards the end is still very shaky, this could mean she wasn’t taught how to manage her breath to produce an even vibrato. Outside of  B4 and C5, IU becomes very strained and shrilled. She often sings out of her supported range with many of her title songs going in the D5-F#5 range. The most popular example of this would be her 3 High Notes in Good Day. During this line she does an E5 (1st note) F5 (2nd Note) and F#5 (Last Note), all very strained. Even then, those strained notes aren’t limited to just that song. In “언제쯤이면” a duet with Yoon Hyun-Sang she does an E5-F5-Eb5 line all of which are strained. This is also an example of her moving her jaw with each pitch. Also most of that “power” Koreans are referring to is her straining. IU, in her support range does do fairly well in her performance of “I Think Love is Out The Window With Rainwater“. She hits many resonant A4s in the beginning and resonant Bb4s towards the end with the key change. In this performance she produces very nice opened sounds, she’s obviously very relaxed. She also uses a much more forward placed voice, even though she is still fairly airy.

To stylize her singing IU does switches into Falsetto. Her switches into falsetto are mostly fine, there’s no extreme kind of disconnection. The quality of her falsetto is fairly airy, which isn’t surprising considering the rest of her range. Due to her falsetto being airy, she has no true resonance in the head register. Head Register resonance can only be achieved by producing head voice, something IU does not do. Her falsetto has the most relaxed sound on C#5/D5 and below, above that her falsetto gets really strained and small. She has pretty nice dynamic control in her falsetto and produced sounds in very soft dynamics.

Musicianship

IU’s musicianship is mainly focused around her guitar and very mellow and sweet sounds. The mellow, acoustic, sort of jazzy sound works for her very well. This is the sound Korea fell in love with and this is the sound she has continually been producing. It suits her light voice and image very well. Strong and dramatic songs with strong climaxes don’t suit her voice very well which was demonstrated during Lost Child. This is because she lacks the vocal power to keep up with the dramatic build-up. Like mentioned before, she does a lot of switches in falsetto and does very nice with dynamics normally. She’s a very musically and styled inclined idol rather than a technical machine.

Rating

Average Vocalist

Vocal Range Video(s)

Video by: Ahmin3 (KitsuneMale)

Analyzed by Pandayeu

Advertisements

210 thoughts on “IU’s Vocal Analysis

      1. How about her song “I don’t like Her” ! .. I’m quite impress with her breathing and dynamics.. It’s like my favourite of all of her songs. I want to hear your thoughts. Thank you for responding 😊

        Like

    1. Are you sure you meant 2:48? There’s nothing in this performance that’s particularly challenging. It’s mostly support with airiness, and quite a bit of falsetto throughout.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Then what about Ailee at 1:23? What would it be: head voice or falsetto? Cuz I can’t hear the difference tbh. In my country there is only one term for this: falsetto. Btw, what note did she hit at 1:13, was it supported/pushed? And was her run at 1:18 good?

        Sorry to bother you again ^^

        Like

      2. Why is this not being asked on Ailees analysis? It’s a head voice. It was a quick pushed E5 followed by the sustained C#5. Both were supported. The run wasn’t bad but it wasn’t her cleanest. She seemed kinda tired.

        Like

  1. Sorry for posting Ailee’s related comment here, I thought it’d be a continuation of my previous comment ^^ And thank you for the help! I think I finally got the difference. Falsetto sounds weaker and more airy while head voice has stronger and cleaner sound (but we call it falsetto in my country:D).

    Do you think IU is able to sing in true head voice? I guess she is but prefers falsetto. And is it possible to produce resonance without support? Does it depend on placement?
    Btw, Idk why but I can’t reply to your latest comment 😦

    Like

    1. It’s fine, I was just kind of confused. Well we have explained the difference between falsetto and head voice quite a few times in quite a few sections of the blog so you can always go back to those to make sure. I’m sure anybody and everybody has the ability to produce a head voice, but has IU done so? If it’s not mentioned in the analysis, then I would say no, not yet. It is not possible to produce resonance without support. You can have good placement despite not having support though. I think it’s just how the comment section works, you can always reply to an earlier comment to stay within that thread of comments instead.

      Like

      1. Thank you! I read somewhere that Taeyeon’s E5 from ‘Oh Holy Night’ is resonant but Taeyeon can’t support above D5 though she has a few supported Eb5s so I was a little bit confused.

        Like

      2. Again completely unrelated to our discussion or the vocalist in question and has been addressed within the comment section of Taeyeon’s analysis but no, it’s not resonant.

        Like

  2. I’m so sad that you rated IU as an average singer or lower and I know you’re more on Technique since it’s how you take care of your voice. I’m quite technical in singing since I’m trained to classical but still I love every song of her even it really affects your ear when listening to so much pop and that her style of singing as well. If you would be given a chance to train her, what is the first thing that you would like for her to achieve ?

    Like

  3. Hi Admin for your vocal analysis of IU there is no video in the ‘best performances’ category I was wondering if you could consider her rendition of flower in it. I think she challenged herself with this song.

    Here is the original song

    I also think Obliviate is one of her best efforts.

    Like

  4. For any future IU fans / antis that came here to find IU is labeled as an average vocalist. Do realize, there is more to music than a singer with good techniques. It is only important for the vocalists to protect their voice, as well as having the ability to sing any song.

    So, for fans, there’s no reason to like her any less, and antis stop using this as a way to hate on her or compare her.

    I’m sorry for leaving this kind of comment, considering it has nothing to do with the analysis. But these past few days, now that IU has gained a lot of attention internationally, she’s also been getting a lot of hate.

    Some people have been using this to call her overrated. Which is very stupid considering it can’t be helped that a lot of people like her music, despite her not being the strongest vocalist in the entire world.

    Like

    1. First of all, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I support constructive criticisms, I don’t support hatred, though. and you can’t blame people for calling her “overrated”. It’s not her fault that some people keep hyping on about her being one of the best vocalists in korea, but it does get that “overrated” label fired up when people who have been under the impression that she is one of the best learn that technically she is average.

      Also, ” It is only important for the vocalists to protect their voice, as well as having the ability to sing any song.” I don’t really understand your point here. The idea of singing with the correct techniques IS to protect your voice from being damaged and ensuring a long singing career.

      Lastly, I do agree that a singer’s technical singing prowess shouldn’t stop you from being their fan. So if you’re her fan, keep on supporting her. Just ignore the haters.
      BTW, I’m neither her fan nor her hater.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. IU barely sing vocally challenging song at least not with her composed song ( good day isn’t her composition )
        So i think she knows her limitations & want to have long career as well. Her music mostly isn’t vocally tasking for her

        Like

      2. People can have an opinion about her. Judge her. We all do it.
        But my comment was specifically towards the haters that went out of their way to insult her / compare her, as if it’s necessary to do that. If you believe she’s overrated, then keep it to yourself.

        You’re not a hater. So, why do you feel the need to reply to me?

        It’s easy for you to say, ignore the haters, since you’re not her fan. Since you don’t even follow her, you won’t know what kind of things haters say to her fans. How they insulted her by dismissing her hard work.

        “Do realize, there is more to music than a singer with good techniques. It is only important for the vocalists to protect their voice, as well as having the ability to sing any song.”
        What part of that do you not understand?

        Like

    2. She is overrated, people hype her as the “best female vocalist in Korea”, how do you think people are going to react when they learn the truth? You don’t think good vocal technique is important? You don’t think it’s important for singers to learn how to do their jobs correctly? I agree people shouldn’t hate on her, but there’s no need for you to make vocal technique seem unimportant.

      Like

      1. I’m sorry if the way I wrote my comment gave you the impression that I believe good vocal technique is unimportant. Which I don’t. It’s a misunderstanding on your part.

        Idk what people you’re talking about. But as a fan, of course TO US, we would think she’s the best. If you’ve been into kpop, you’d know that things like that are normal. Honestly, anyone would think their fav artist is the best.

        However, people find it a must to “correct” her fans (randomly out of no where) with their “opinions”? We can like who we want. If you think she’s overrated, fine. Don’t listen to her, move on.

        Like

      2. @vivi the term “best singer” is an opinion. Everyone can be best singer for everyone it’s up to you but term “best Vocalist” is objective & measureable by vocal technique
        In this case IU can be your best singer , but she is definitely far from being best Vocalist especially when she has tons of vocal issue & actually mostly talking/whispering/humming in her song rather than vocalise properly

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I just came from one of Ahmin’s Kpop Vocal Debunk videos. Do you know why he does them? Because there are so many people out there that doesn’t know any better. So, your opinion of her shouldn’t be based on what random people say.

        Don’t think IU herself believe she’s a good vocalist. The songs that she composes, ‘Bad Day’ ‘Palette’, are not demanding. However, people (in S.Korea especially) love listening to her ballads. Which is why, she still does it.

        As for the ‘hate comments’. Most of them that uses the word ‘overrated’, are not talking about her just as a vocalist. They don’t like her as a whole. The music she makes. Then, there are people that hates her just for being more successful than their faves.

        One common thing they have. They don’t understand why she’s so popular. Which is like someone not a fan broccoli, sees other people eat them, questions why people do. Of course you don’t get it cause you don’t like it.

        Personally, if there’s anyone to blame. it’s the people in S.Korea (people closest to her) that praises her, kept on encouraging her, and let her sing that way. They consider the way she sings now, as part of her “identity” as a singer.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, I want to know your thoughts about Juniel since she was being compared to IU back in the days. Do you think theyre in the same level in terms of vocal technique or do you think Juniel is weaker. Thanks.

    Like

    1. I don’t have much of an opinion on Juniel’s singing. I’ve heard some of it, she’s a very breathy acoustic stylistic vocalist and that’s all I remember really of her. She never struck me as a very technical vocalist.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s