IU’s Vocal Analysis

Vocal Range

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

Supported Range

A3/Bb3 ~ A4/Bb4

Voice Type



  • 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

Points for Improvement

  • 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


  • 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.


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.


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.

Label (Type of Vocalist)

M Vocalists: Mid-Range Vocalists

S vocalists: Stylistic Vocalists

Vocal Range Video(s)

Video by: Ahmin3 (KitsuneMale)

Analyzed by Pandayeu


249 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 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 그 애 참 싫다 you mean? It’s a lot of breathiness and soft singing from what I remember.


    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 ^^


      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.


  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 😦


    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.


      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.


      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.


  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 ?


  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.


  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.

    Liked by 1 person

    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 3 people

      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


      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?


    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.

      Liked by 1 person

      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.


      2. I’m talking about some of her fans saying she’s better than Ailee, Taeyeon, and Shannon. It’s fine if she’s your fave.


      3. @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 3 people

      4. 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.


    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.


    1. It’s a B4, it’s not outside of her comfort zone but it was poorly placed, the throat wasn’t very opened and the support for it wasn’t strong but I wouldn’t call it strained. I’d just say it was shallow.


  6. Something that kinda bothers me about her singing is her vibrato… there’s always something off about it (it sounds forced most of the time). Although her voice is sweet i’m not really fond of her ‘live singing’ because of her breathing. I think she should stick to soft songs, otherwise she seems to lose control of her voice, she doesn’t really have the power.


  7. Yaay harsh truth indeed for her fans. I’m her fan since 2011 and I’ve always believe that she has a great vocal tech untill i heard one of her cover of goose dream (am i writing the title right?) and realize that, no, she is not. People also been praising her vocal in her latest mama performance of Dear Name. But I found it average, i mean her voice tech.

    But to all haters here who use this to make ill talk about her, well shit. You had no life.

    IU is overrated for her singing ability. But she is not overrated for being one of the top female singer in s. Korea. She DESERVED it.

    IU creates her own music. She put her soul and story in it. She connects with her listeners trough it. Speaking directly to people’s heart(and yes you may say im cheesy). She wasn’t born with a blessed strong powerful voice, so she has to work harder than those who are born with it to be able to keep up. By having her own style, her own music, her own lyric.

    She deserved her fame because she work really hard for it.

    And last for people that critique her technique hasn’t improve much because she might not be trying hard enough, she has had one of the best vocal trainer in s. Korea and recieve harsh feedback from him evrytime they are practicing. That’s maybe her limit, not her lack of trying.


    1. Posting this because the “iu is overrated” bs annoys me so much. She has never said that she is the best singer out there lol in fact she only trained her singing for 10 months before her debut so… Also most people don’t know anything about music so most of us say that we like someone based on their vocal tone/color idk how to say this without the vocal police getting offended. As far as her music goes people praise her because in terms of the choices that she makes she does stand out from other kpop idols. Ex the fact that she composes and writes her own songs (and she is a very good songwriter) and people can connect with music in various ways without necessary having “academic” knowledge. I think in the world in general theres a small % of people who know about singing vs the ones who don’t and I don’t have anything against people analyzing her voice because i guess it has a purpose for the ones who are interested in singing but you don’t need to hate on an artist who doesn’t meet your standars and you also don’t need to hate on people who don’t know about music for liking someones music based on many other factors.


  8. Hi, i want to ask how did IU make the sound like this, she usually likes singing this at the end of a high note.

    (1.05) ma~”a”
    the sound like a little cracked but not actually cracked.
    Dose the sound is needed to sing in strain or it can be sang with support?


    1. People have asked about this kind of thing a couple of times. My understanding of it is that she’s pushing air and letting go of the connection between her vocal cords before she lets go of the air she’s pushing, so the sound cracks a bit before reconnecting. It’s kind of a stylistic device and it can be without strain. In her cause, I feel it’s a result of her not managing her air pressure though.


      1. thx for your detail reply.
        one more question i want to ask
        what is your opinion on this note (same video 3:09)(bai-ly~)
        Is it a very heady mixed voice? Dose it be supported but strain?
        i feel she did put the note in the right place to resonate, didn’t she?


      2. It’s not supported, it’s a high larynx headier mixed voice F#5 to E5. I’d say she placed it a bit too high actually.


    1. She performed well within her ability. It was a decent performance some off runs here and there, but overall very standard for her.


  9. I don’t know why but there is something about her voice when she tries to sing with “power” like dear name, etc, that just makes her high notes pierce my ears,


    1. 0:14 she struggled a bit to find that E5 it sounds undeveloped with no core or support more like a falsetto than a real head voice


  10. In this video I think around 2:22 ? I know it’s not sustained (We still love it very much though) since a person told but can you tell me if it’s true that it’s G or around it and higher than her 3 notes in Good day? Is it falsetto? Sorry I can’t really tell falsetto from head voice.


    1. sorry its around 4:22 not 2:22 and with the line “oh baby”

      The song is Sleepless Rainy night.

      And I’d like to ask is headvoice better than falsetto? It’s because as if everyone I know is claiming it is.


      1. Oh man! I’m going crazy it should’ve been the first one because it was somewhat live.

        I know I’m getting annoying but can I ask if how is her vocals faring in this one?

        And oh my goodness I’ll try and link the first sleepless rainy night again maybe i did something wrong the two first times.


  11. Hello, here I go again.

    The video I want you to analyze is actually a special clip so it is somewhat live. I hope this is okay. The time is around 4:22 with the line “oh baby!”

    or at this live one around 4:35 also the same song.

    I also want to know if what do you think of her vocal performance in these:

    Hold my hand

    Blackout and Last Night Story

    Raindrop and Heart


    You can choose not to read these last part 🙂:

    These are during her concerts, except Lullaby but it is still live, which are either 3.5, 4 or 4.5 hours. I think Hold my Hand is 4.5 hours. Also Raindrop and Heart is during her encore, the last two songs she sang on one of her concerts, so yeah she might be already tired. And Lullaby is a part of her live performance in You Hee-yul’s sketchbook, a gift she gave her fans in place of a concert because she cannot have a concert due to the pandemic and IU actually started to lose her voice which is the first time it happened because even in an almost 5 hours concert it does not happen, especially in this performance because it’s an encore. She said that she was not use to having no audience and kinda sad yet she persevered till the end. 😢

    Sorry I just want to add the last details🙂. I am just a sucker for IU like I know she is just an average vocalist from your analysis yet for some reason I love her more because of that. But I heard she tried changing her way of singing so I just want to ask if there is even a miniscule of difference on the way she sings nowadays compared to before. Did she get better or still the same. No matter the answer seriously she is still my forever most beloved kpop artist so need to hold back in the criticism.


    1. I know you’re not asking for my opinion but her performances in sketchbook for her anniversary is really strained she sang a total of 64 songs in more than 16 hours straight and I guess it shows how tired she looks and sounds.


  12. That makes her the top Korean female solo artist her voice is unique. As she is not a bad singer, she is good to listen to as she is not that typical vocal powerhouse it sets her apart from all other soloist. I easily get bored when the singer sings with that typical technique like straight from academy sound it gets boring. As with her voice it sounds familiar, soothing and relatable. I think that’s one of the many reasons she stayed at the top. Just like Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber they’re not the best vocalist out there but we all know how massive they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Baby your question has to be more detailed. I hear the same technical approach she’s always sung with, so I don’t know what else to comment on


      1. Thanks for the answer .. But don’t you notice that her vocal cords have become more powerful and less vibrating .. Yes, she depends on the same method because she knows that this method is appropriate for her, but I feel that the strength of her voice has evolved


      2. What do you mean more powerful and less vibrating? Cause I’m not sure I hear a significant change apart from her maturing wItú age.


      3. I mean, I started to feel more stable and stable in her voice … and there is more energy in her voice than before, which means pushing her voice became stronger when she screamed at the top of her voice … I don ‘ t know in this area, but because I followed her before and over the years. I noticed these things … not necessarily correct, but this is what I noticed


      4. I see I see. I mean I feel like she’s been singing this way for a while now. Confidence and stability are things she’s had for sometime now, that’s what I hear anyway.


  13. Hello ahmin! i want to ask a question. do you know how to differentiate mix voice and head voice in a high register? i’m a beginner singer and everytime i hear idols mixing above D5, it’s always sounded like a head voice to me. this problem makes me confused everytime i try to hit notes above C5 because idk wheter i’m actually mixing or just switching to head voice. thank you a lot for your help because i cannot afford a vocal teacher and you’re the only person i can ask:)


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