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

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

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.

Label (Type of Vocalist)

M Vocalists: Mid-Range Vocalists

S vocalists: Stylistic Vocalists

Vocal Range Video(s)

Video by: Ahmin3 (KitsuneMale)

Analyzed by Pandayeu

228 thoughts on “IU’s Vocal Analysis

    1. Korean version of T.Swift? That’s a very reasonable comparison. Both of them have more style than technique.

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      1. Mike – I’m not an expert but based on what I’ve learn from this blog and being a fan of T.S., TayTay is slightly lower than IU since Taylor has no existing vibrato, unstable larynx (even during 1989 era) and her high/belted notes are often shouted (Out of the Woods, Shake it Off, Blank Space, I Knew You Were Trouble). Also, her head voice is almost non-existing. So far, I only heard her once hit a head voice (Cold As You, I think it’s D5)

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      2. Her vocal range is C3-G#5, by the way, but her supported notes, I think, lie around G#3/A3-G#4. All of those are inconsistent. It actually frustrates me to know that she’s not a good vocalist since her grandmother is an opera singer (Marhorie Finlay) who is also one of her influences. ._.

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    1. They might be. Honestly..with the amount of air rather than tone coming through…it’s hard to tell. It’s definitely in that area. She’s definitely aren’t there.

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  1. Yes, finally a vocal analysis on IU! I’ve been waiting for this for ages!

    Do you think she has made any improvements since her debut? If you were to rate her back in her rookie days, would you still rank her as average or lower?

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    1. Well, she really didn’t improve much if she still on supports A4/Bb4 in 2014/2015. She might have been weak to average or low average. I didn’t go before like 2012/11.

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    1. I find that when a singer sings difficult and high songs most people, including myself before this blog, just assumes that they are amazing no matter how bad their technique actually is. If Taylor Swift sings the same kind of difficult and high songs as IU, she would be considered amazing too.
      I still love IU’s voice though, including her straining.

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      1. But personal preference is not equal of “betterness” and I think a lot of people confuse those, a lot of arguments and misconceptions are born from there… anyways, to each their own, they’re artists for more than one reason anyways, vocal technique is just one aspect of a wide range of qualities for an artist to be successful.

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      2. Lol i think you misunderstood me. I completely agree with you. I know that IU does not have good vocal technique and I don’t think she is “better.” I just like her voice, even when it’s strained, from a purely subjective point of view. For some reason I have more trouble recognizing strain in female voices than in males, so I can tolerate them more. Sometimes I think strain actually sounds good, like in TVXQ’s Changmin’s voice. I actually like his voice when it’s strained more than when it’s not strained lol, especially in rockier songs because his strained voice literally sounds to me like metal rods beings scraped together, which I personally love in rock songs. I actually can’t stand it when he sings in his supported range sometimes because the nasality seems more obvious there. But of course all that is just personal preference. I would never argue that he is better than others when he is obviously not

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  2. I just like WOW her mix goes up to A4/Bb4 i was slightly proud and just then, i remembered, she’s a soprano lol
    i was obviously shocked with what i read just now. especially her rating, considering that I was one of them (people who said her high notes are powerful) it’s like unbelievable, even i was a bit outraged when Hyorin won over her on Immortal Song LOLOL
    but truth has been told right, although it’s hard for me, but thank you for the analysis! ^^ I’ve been waiting for ages, literally. People should read this.

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    1. Well, it isn’t that we are purposefully choosing to analyze Sopranos. It’s just that there just happens to be many Sopranos in K-POP. We can’t magically make mezzo-sopranos. Though I do believe some are going to be analyzed…I don’t remember who, but I think of them is a Mezzo-Soprano.

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      1. so far I’ve only known like 3 in K-Pop that are mezzo-sopranos. Been wondering if there’s anyone doing for CSJH’s Stephanie at least.

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      2. I thought she sounded fuller than Lina and had a more womanly tone than her. I guess it’s time for me to check again lol

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  3. She’s lower than what I thought she would be but I’m not that surprise since I’m not that far.. I thought she’s in between average and above average
    anyway thank you so much Pandayeu I love you!! haha been waiting for IU’s for so long. please write more ❤
    p/s : Son Seungyeon is Great or better? What is her vocal range and supported range?

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  4. I’m surprised but at the same time not surprised by this analysis. IU’s strong points are definitely her stylistic stuff and songwriting. Her “belts” were always strained and off to me even before I became aware of vocals through this team.

    Nevertheless the average kpop idol in general can’t even dream of being average vocalists lol

    I really like reading the posts here even if the technical jargon flies over my head, thanks writers for taking the time and interest to do this! 😀

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    1. Well, what do you consider the average kpop idol? Because most Vocalist are in that Average to Above Average area. If you mean dancers and rappers then sure maybe, but majority of vocalist are at least average.

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  5. I know nothing about vocal technique or that but I can know stuff like octaves, strain but everyone said IU was amazing because she done the 3 octave note which was obviously not true because she only has 2 octaves and 4 notes. And I was wondering if you will make a post about explains the vocal technique stuff lol. I know you have already kind of explained what it is but I don really understand. *Sigh* I’m such an idiot

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    1. I actually included the “3 Octave High Notes” from Good Day in the analysis, but really those are three octaves. Those are just three NOTES. E5,F5,F#5 all of which are pretty much right next to each other on a piano. We actually have technical things explain on the criteria page check that out ^.^ You’re not an idiot, it’s just many people don’t know about this.

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      1. Thanks ^-^ and I know it’s not KPop but how would you rank Florence welch, Adele and pink thanks again ^-^

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      2. Whenever I go on the vocal analyses bit at the side I see Taeyeons, tiffanys, sunny and Seohyuns but whenever I click on them it says “oops sorry his page can’t be found” Is their something wrong with the page or its just me?

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      3. Lower range is nice, even her mix isn’t bad, there’s resonance. I mean she was AA, I think, at one point.

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      4. NOOO I meant I think she’s really good. I mean everyone loves her and thinks she is the best. I never seen her as AA. I always saw her as like good

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      5. Adele is a mezzo, right? Well, I think C5 is really high for her since I have watched tons of her upper belts and all of those sound screechy or shouted like Rolling in the Deep and Set Fire to the Rain. Like her chest voice, though. It’s really good.

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  6. Wow average! I can’t believe how Korea and people say how good she is. I never thought she was good. I thought she was average but people thought I was crazy. Then I thought she was AA. Her supported range is ore like weak to average! Which is crazy. You must of been shocked when you were writing this analysis.

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  7. Finally IU’s analysis is up! Thanks for all the hard work done to complete this 🙂 I hope fans will take the time to read this and stop blindly saying that IU’s one of the best vocalists in Korea, because she’s not lol.. No hate on IU but I’ve always wondered why she’s called one of the best vocalists when she sounds just average, I mean, pretty tone and all that, love her style as well, but not the powerhouse vocal that gives you goosebumps.. I also agree that IU’s like Taylor Swift in a way.. Both are not very good technically but they’re still so successful with their distinct styles..

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    1. I’m a fan, but I’ve always known her technique is lacking. However to the average listener, they think that having a good-sounding voice = being a good vocalist.

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      1. That is true. The average person just looks for good sounds..if IU sounds good to you..then she’s good if you don’t know any better.

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      2. It’s fine to have a preference because we’re all drawn to different things anyway. What annoys me the most is when fans keep trying to force their preferences down other people’s throats when being countered by objective arguments..

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    2. Finally, someone say what i always subconsciously think as her fan.Sometimes she make me disappoint,but overall I really like her distinct styles(most of her fan must have love this side of her i guess)

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  8. What!? Average? You kidding me O_O i thought she was AA.. Omg. I should not immediately believe on others opinion without explanation. I mean “real” explanation without “biased” flavor. Very interesting analysis. Good job. Thank you.

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  9. I thought her supported range was F4 – C#5 or maybe it’s her comfort range. Below F4 she sounds so airy to me. Thanks for the great analysis.

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    1. F4? Now…that’s just pathetic. That would mean she has absolutely NO lower register. Like not even a little. Do you mean F3? F3 makes a lot more sense. Sadly, though, her supported range is not F3-C#5…

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      1. F4 – C#5 is like someone who’s totally untrained/underdeveloped lol. I thought she was something like Bb3 – C5 but then I realized anything from B4 and above of her is not in my list

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  10. i’m in my dreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIam i hate this notes. meh.
    then she’s a weak to average vocalist, but has musicality, so just average, right?
    omg, she can hit E5 with resonance and is pretty weak. x.x she regressed, or has always been average? omfg oh, you could put in the analysis that she has been able to produce a good E5. it would be a good detail. 🙂 XO :*

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    1. She also has resonance on A4 and Bb4. Wait, when did she ever hit an E5 with resonance? The one from “Who hits the best E5 in K-pop”? It’s strained as well.

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      1. Jea’s isn’t resonant, it’s strained. Minkyung’s supported with small resonance. Baek Jiyoung’s isn’t resonant, it’s strained. Taeyeon’s is not resonant, it’s a bit whiny. That’s it~

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      2. OMG. That video is really absurd. Those “queens” have bad notes, especially Bom and Seungyoon. I think, among those, Alice is the only one who is okay.

        The best among them is definitely Sohyang and Haeri, both are very round. (I’m not sure about Ailee because the audio is not clear).

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      3. The video was actually being sarcastic about them being “queens,” mocking the way their fans sometimes call them queens probably. ^ ^
        Yeah sohyang sounded really round, but did she go flat at the end? It still sounded really resonant though and it was a long note

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      4. Yeah SoHyang E5 went flat towards the end~ but it was still resonant. This just goes to show that even great vocalist aren’t perfect.

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  11. eh, i kinda expect more from iu T.T. i always like iu, first watching her in dream high ahaha. how about her ‘MIA’ in 2008 and 2012, you think? i always like comparison with the same song but different year.

    and i how about her?

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    1. The one difference I noticed was that she wasn’t going flat in the second one, but technically she sounded about the same. As for YoAri, she is considerably better than them. She would probably be the strongest vocalist in BEG, had she debuted with them. She was resonant in the choruses and had a nice stylistic control of throatiness and resonance.

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      1. Requests should be made on the Future Analyses page. They’re already included in the list, they’re not going to be analyzed anytime soon because they debuted in 2015, therefore they lack material.

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  12. I love her so much!
    I hope she improves her low notes, C#3 is too low. And also her high notes, some of her belts sounds very pretty but her 3 high notes in Good Day… In any case, she doesnt seem to have received singing lessons because I have not seen any improvement since debut but im not expert.
    I know! I’ll show her this analysis, lol

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  13. Thanks for doing this, since i don’t really listening to her i’ve never actually paid attention on her technique.
    Kind of a lighten though since people always too hyped with her singing. Which i don’t understand since her popular three high notes from good day are always bad from what i’ve heard.
    I should share this lmfao

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    1. I’m not sure, so don’t quote on this but Ariana Grande is at most Above Average (currently, not counting how she used to sound) and Demi might be Competent at most, maybe a bit better? I’m not entirely sure.

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      1. I watched a vocal range video of Demi. Wow! Even as low as C#3, tonality is still present. It sounds like her Eb3 is also supported. That’s quite low for a soprano. >_<

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    2. Demi is actually a competent singer? *u* Wow! I never have expected. I thought she’s at the same level as Daesung XD (Or maybe because her chest voice is somehow develop, hence making her better than him XD)

      As for Ariana, I strongly believe she’s just an average singer. She always strains her voice. I mean, literally in almost every performance. And her low notes suck >_>

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  14. Hi. May I ask, how much can you improve your techniques even though you’ve been singing with the wrong techniques for many year. Like for example Park Bom. How much can she improve and what’s the highest?

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      1. well anyways, i know I shouldn’t but………..
        Park Bom or Selena Gomez looooooool
        *since both are weak but overrated and claimed to be good by fans*

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      2. The question is, can Selena Gomez sing? I’ve watched most of her performance. Her real live vocals (which she rarely showcases, anyway) is quite whinny and nasal. Also, below C4, she sounds so weak. I guess, her support is somewhere around C4-G#4 :v

        I quite like her song, though, but that’s all.

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      3. I am not familiar with her live but her studio singing is very limited so I wouldn’t say she’s a very skilled vocalist.

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  15. Random question but does Seulgi sing in head voice? To me she sounds like she does but she’s nasal when she’s singing it so I was just wondering if I’m right or not xP

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    1. Do you have ant examples or anything? Because aside from their High Note battle…I haven’t heard Seulgi use her head register.

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      1. OOPS! I meant to say Wendy! >.< Sorry I'm Seulgi biased so I think of her like half of the time xP

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      2. Lol, that’s fine. She has head voice C6 from Pre-debut, she has head voice F#5 every time she did Shake That Brass with Amber, and she has a head voice B5 at the end of Something Kind of Crazy.

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  16. “Though IU is a Soprano she doesn’t have very good agility.” Something is wrong with this sentence, right? It implies that all sopranos are expected to have good agility.

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    1. Sopranos have lighter voices, implying that they should have an easier time with vocal agility than someone with a heavier voice.

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    2. Nope, that is exactly what I wanted to write. The Soprano voice, especially the Light Lyric Soprano voice has an easier time when it comes to doing runs, octave jumps etc.

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  17. This is my new favorite website! You’ve already done so many of my favorites (Minzy, Haeri, Narsha, Taemin, Ailee) and hot damn; it’s a crime that I’ve never heard of SoHyang. I’d love to hear what you guys think about K.will and Bumkey; they’re two of my favorite vocalists in all of Kpop. I was going to suggest Girl’s Day Minah, but then I realized how low she’d probably rank 😛

    Also, I know this is a long shot but I’d looove to hear what you think of Solar and Whee In from Mamamoo. Whee In especially would sit comfortably in the Good category, I’d imagine.

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    1. “Hot Damn” LOL You’re Taran, the one who replied to my comment on Youtube. Well hello there lol Well Minah is coming soon, ish lol Yes what a crime about Sohyang though lol Whee in? Good? That’s a bit far fetched for now. I’d put Solar above Whee In, because pretty much all of Mamamoo even each other out but Solar has a lower range, a much more developed lower range than the rest of them. They’re all AA-ish. None of them is even Competent, at least not yet. Of course they just debuted not long ago, so we can give them time. K.Will, you will find out, he’s not bad for sure but he gets a bit messy.

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  18. Am I the only one who find it awkward that Minzy is better than IU :33
    IU has achieved so much as a vocalist… awkward awkward~

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  19. hey thank you for this! i’m a great IU fan because of her all roundedness but i never expected her to rank that low. Just asking, in this video what’s the highest she hits and is it strained? i learn music but am not very good at identifying notes. thanks again!

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    1. It’s an F5 belt towards the end..3:13…I actually mentioned this same exact line in the analysis. Yes, it’s strained. Very strained. In the analysis, I wrote “In “언제쯤이면” a duet with Yoon Hyun-Sang she does an E5-F5-Eb5 line all of which are strained.”

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  20. majority of IU fan know that she have not a great vocal. But we all agree that she can sing with so meaningful that can touch listener heart.

    I think, great vocal it’s not just a point to be a great singer, but the ability to touch listener heart with singing also one of big part to be a good singer. IU song(and singing) also can bring us to peaceful feeling. Some of IU song can make our mind at ease.

    I think that’s why IU become a popular vocalist, not just because her voice.

    Anyway, thanks for this analysis.. 🙂

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    1. I agree with you Julia 🙂 There are even singers that are famous even though they’re not good in singing but IU can communicate with people through her music and for me, communicating with people through music is better than only having a good voice. I ♥ IU

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  21. Thank you for this analyses! Personally, I can agree with almost all of this very well written article. The writer does fail to mention one of IU’s “God given” vocal qualities. The fact that her voice sounds equally beautiful at very low and very high volume, is not solely from technical training. It is a gift that she simply possesses and makes her voice very rare and unique. Of course, this is my opinion and is supported by my discussions with several people in the music industry, including a very famous opera singer in Korea that knows IU, named Sumi Jo, and one that has a doctorate degree in Musical Theory, regarding IU’s vocal ability. -admin kpoppa of IU Official Fansite on Facebook

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    1. That is extremely subjective and completely personal taste so it really has no place in the analysis. Sorry if I come off as aggressive. To you she sounds good at a very low and a very high volume, but that’s not a fact even if several people agree with you even if Sumi Jo agrees with you..it’s not fact. For me, IU, especially above C5, does not sound very good..she’s very strained, pushed, and nasal and that just doesn’t sound good to me also there isn’t much sound in her lower register..so there’s nothing to sound “Good” of course this is my opinion. Also there are countless vocalist that people think sound good singing high and low so it’s not something that’s very rare or unique. Tone is subjective. So I can’t tell you that you’re wrong, I can only show you a differing and another subjective opinion.

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      1. What made you have a right to define “fact”, if you said that “just your own opinion”?Every music reviewer have same opnions with you?

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      2. Let me just change wording here and explain what my colleague meant. Basically fact means straining, tension, support, breath control, those are facts. Someone is doing it right or wrong, that’s a fact. Now to say that “her soft volume and her loud volume notes always sound beautiful because she has a God given gift” is subjective because “beautiful” is not a fact. It’s like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. In other words, if someone is beautiful, that can change from person to person. If Jo Sumi believes IU has a beautiful voice, that’s a personal opinion. This is a technical analysis and no personal opinions should be included, someone’s voice being beautiful is not a fact, it’s an opinion. It’s not about everyone having the same opinion as an author, it’s about what the opinion of the author is. The author here isn’t trying to tell you “IU has bad songs and an ugly voice”, the author is saying “IU has technical issues because this is happening in her throat”. Regardless of the listener, there’s no way to question this without actual vocal knowledge. Vocal knowledge is not required to tell if someone’s voice is beautiful however, only a matter of taste and it should not have been part of the analysis and that’s why it wasn’t included. ^ ^

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      3. I agree that tone (while being pleasing to some, may not be pleasing to others) is VERY subjective (and I am OBVIOUSLY biased here) and I also agree with your analysis. An honorable mention of tonal qualities in relation to volume, subjective as it may be, is important to consider, IMHO! Thanks for your reply!

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      4. I read over the analysis and usually a mention to dynamics, in other words, usage of different volume outputs is mentioned if the vocalist has control of such. It wasn’t mentioned in this analysis as we normally would, so I understand what you feel. I apologize for that.

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      5. Thank you for your reply. I suppose I chose at least one word wrong in my comment. Fact for me is opinion to others and I agree with your reply!

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    2. But having a degree in music theory doesn’t really make one knowledgeable when it comes to vocal music, though. A person can major in Music Theory in college and not have taken any vocal music courses at all. I mean, my former high school choir teacher majored in music, but he doesn’t know how to conduct an orchestra or symphony band or marching band because that’s not his area of expertise. His expertise is in vocal music and vocal music education. Because there’s various concentrations within the music major program, having a degree in one concentration doesn’t mean you’re knowledgeable about the others.

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      1. I just threw that in to add weight to my comment, so it would not be just my opinion alone. It really doesn’t matter when discussing subjective things such as pleasant tonal qualities. I just thought it deserved honorable mention in the analysis, although I agree with the writers reply to my comment,

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  22. Thanks for the analysis.

    No offense, but how many songs you listen for analizing a singer?

    Just wondering, did you heard this?(the song from13:28)

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    1. I’ve listened to quite a few performance by IU..actually before writing her analysis I spent all of the day before and part of the day of the analysis watching her performance. Also, you don’t have to watch every performance of a vocalist to know if they are good technically or not..really only a couple. you only need to watch a lot to write an analysis like this on them.

      But since you sent me that video let me tell you what is going there technically.
      She actually pulled her sound forward and supported it better so it wasn’t very airy, but it was nasal
      There is still slightly throat tension going on even when she’s not singing high
      Her lower are pretty much air
      When she started singing her she was pushing and her larynx went up
      So that’s what happened.

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      1. Thanks for explaining.

        So even though she can do “pulled her sound forward and supported it better…… “, she still lacks of technic?

        I am not native EN speaker, so maybe some of my sentenses and questions looks awkward. (Sorry for that)

        I just try to figure out that every singer has thier weakness and advantage, then how you guy get conclusion who is averaged or not.

        I have this doubt because I found that most of you are SONE, when people have bias it’s hard to stay objective. (according to psychology)

        Except for it, other parts of the article still looks good and professional. Thank you guy.

        (BTW, disagree with the comparison of Taylor Swift and IU. )

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      2. Don’t worry. We have no bias here, we don’t let that cloud our judgment if we are being professional about singing technique. Plus if anything, that makes her be even more strict with SNSD, I’m super strict with Tiffany. So us being SONEs or whatever else should have nothing to do with our credibility. Again yes Taylor Swift is only similar to her cuz of the whole guitar acoustic pop music thing. Your English isn’t bad but yes IU lacks technique, you can check the front page and criteria for more information! ^ ^

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    2. Aww, that’s the superstar singing effect. I love it.
      IU got that present and charisma, she is is like g-dragon in girl version.

      I don’t pay attention much to the vocals of both IU and g-dragon, but I love their live presence. I think that video is awesome. I feel like i just watched something in broadway.

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  23. Not a music major, but i like IU’s emotions when singing. I’m not a a singer or a vocalist, but I wish all singers are rated above average cause I can’t sing well. If IU is average vocalist to a music professional or music major, I’m glad I’m not getting a rating on singing. I guess what really captured me to listen to some IU songs is the fact that it feels good particularly that someday song from dream high. I get the timeless feeling when listening to IU.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that is why ahmin differentiated between “singer” and “vocalist” in the about page.

      this site is purely judging her as a vocalist and not a singer.

      the article looked at her vocal skill objectively and stated the facts, but the opinions of how she is as a singer, and any other singer, are your own.

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  24. For those saying IU is not a great vocalist and don’t know why Korean love her…It’s becoz ppl are not looking for a great vocalist, if they are they should probably listen to opera. Coz most of the opera singer has better technical than these pop singer…

    As what I know IU never had any professional vocal training, and the period that she train before debut are actually very short(compare to other kpop star). The reason that she become one of the most well-known female singer in Korea is:
    1. Her Style. Ppl from western country might difficult to understand, but her style is loved by most Asian.
    2. The emotion that she express, also difficult to understand for ppl don’t know Korean.
    3. She is capable on different kind of song, cute and happy, sad and emotional, powerful or soft.
    4. This is probably the most import point. She shows how well she knows about Korean music. Korean are addicted when she remake and sing those local Korean old song, which are truly Korean music, and the locals love it very much.
    And that’s make her a great iconic Korean singer, literally Korean, if you know what I mean.

    This is also why her reputation is limited to national only. Korean love her but foreigner don’t know why.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t believe anybody was questioning whether or not IU is loved in Korea or popular in general. I think it has been established more than a few times that being a great vocalist is not a requirement for being a popular pop singer and I also believe foreign fans, such as yourself, love her a lot in general regardless of her vocal ability. Many Korean fans love her but so do many international fans, from east and west. I do appreciate the points you’re making though. ^ ^

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  25. I’m sorry if you’ve mentioned it somewhere before and I missed it, but you wrote above that she “possibly can go higher” on her vocal range, how did you determine that and how high can she possibly get?
    Also, on her strained 3 high notes, is that because of her breathing? I’m just curious because somehow I didn’t hear breathing deep enough before the sequence.

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    1. We believe that due to her being a Soprano, A5 is most definitely not her highest note, as a Soprano she should be able to at least reach the sixth octave. It’s not purely her breathing, it’s muscle tension and bad habits that exist due to muscle memory in her throat besides her breathing.

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  26. well I like her songs but when I hear her sing I never think she is that good, i just thought she has a nice sound and is very pretty face, but i never think she was that great, except in Dream High. I feel like she sounds best on acoustic and sweet slow songs not fast pop ones
    OK so do u think Soyou or IU is stronger.
    I think it goes Soyou >>>>>> IU = Tiffany
    am i right

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    1. Oh no no Tiffany is also a stronger vocalist than IU. Soyou and Tiffany are much closer together. Tiffany has a head voice and a lower range, she may have issues but she has a more developed voice.

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  27. Hi, I’m Korean and I accidentally found this page. When I first found that IU was ranked only average vocalist, I was little awkward about it. However, I figured out this page was evaluating them by vocal techniques and as a “vocalist”, not a “singer.” Though she was just ranked “average”, I think her voice and emotion is one of the best in Korea. And also, Can I ask for Zion.T, Crush, and Oh hyuk. They are my favorites and also they are very unique and stylish singers. Thank you..

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    1. We can’t really judge voice and emotion though, because those are subjective you know? You say that her emotion is one of the best, but what if I disagree and say Park Bom’s emotion is one of the best? That’s just based on how we feel about them. Where as with technique, strain isn’t about how we feel, but how they sing. I’m really struggling to find bad English in your comment, but it’s actually really good!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am not familiar with Oh Hyuk, Crush and Zion.T could eventually be analyzed but I feel there’s not that much material for them live, yet. Right?

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    1. She hits it in “Friday”, if you listen to the song it’s the part right before he pre chorus where she sings “Mind Control”, the last note is an A5.

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  28. I expected a lot more from IU given her reputation in the K-pop industry.

    I really REALLY like her songs but I can’t listen to a full album of hers frequently because I find that her singing can become ear grating at times, especially when she goes for those high and/or belted notes. As for her lower register I agree that she sounds like she’s expelling air and not singing at times but I have a question, can a slightly airy and/or raspy ever technically be a good thing? I ask because I’m a huge fan of those kinds of singing but it’d be interesting to know if they can every be a good thing.

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    1. They’re a nice way of creating stylistic dynamics and sounds on your vocal performances, but if you can’t sing in your lower range with proper tone at will, then it’s a weaknesses. If it’s not a choice and it’s the only way you can sing in a part of your voice, then it shows weakness.

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  29. when i heard about IU and everybody praising her so much calling her the best I was curious but when I listened to her it was a big disappointment. I dont know about techincal issues but as a mere music listener she sounded to me so nasal, i find her voice very high-pitched that made me cringe when she went to high notes. i even took off my headphones bc of her voice. i found her singing flat too. her singing was like mumbling, murmuring, rolling the words.. she mumbles the words in the name of relaying the emotion and then scream out high notes. find them annoying. gives me headache. i noticed in some songs they just throw high notes in the middle of the song that sound unnecessary to me. it is like i will make you think i am so much talented in this.

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  30. Now that i confirm my sometime-disappointment toward some of her singing however it strongly strike back at me that i really love her live performances. It’s not about techinal fancy singing but It’s her distinct musical style and charming,appealing aura of her( on stage, in front of the cam, in photos) that make me fall for her.
    Hope uaenas and her fans notice this and don’t be discouraged since there always room for her to improve on technical stuff. We fans all know her hard-working nature right

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    1. There is a song in her album “Last Fantasy” where she belted a G5. She also tried to belt a G#5 from “I’m Your Girl” by S.E.S. but I think it was flat and she hit F#5 or G5 instead. I should make a vocal range video for her.

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  31. even as a fan, i agree that iu’s vocal technique is subpar… i watched alot of her live and her stability is kinda lackluster, can be from her busy schedules. still, i enjoy her performances a lot. her voice carry on so much emotion for me. thanks for analysis!

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  32. Although IU’s ability is clearly lacking, I haven’t heard a single performance of hers where it was made very obvious, that is until I started watching different idols sing “Goose’s Dream” and while even SoYou sounded pretty good, IU was terrible.

    All of these idols who are graded 2 and lower, I wonder what they’d sound like if and/or when they learn proper technique.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Who is better Tiffany or IU? I saw some sones fighting with some people and I’m not a fan of IU or Tiffany because both of their voices annoy me but… Who would you say is?

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  34. Why is it, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about her, most people believe that she’s a great vocalist. (Sorry for my english)

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    1. Why are you apologizing? There wasn’t anything wrong with your English lol. It’s because she’s popular and known for singing

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  35. Okay! First thing first yes I’m an uana so maybe I’m biased whatever.

    I really hate that comment that say “Fans should realize that singing is not just about style. But also technique.” As if she mean that IU don’t deserve the fame that she got now.
    The first time I heard about Ailee, beating IU in a lot of award I was curious. And so I get to know Ailee and her amazing voice. And finally realizing that my Idol’s vocal technique is not that much of a praise. I know that! Listening to Ariana Grande’s songs also makes me frustated that IU can’t reach higher note like she did and also less power than Ariana’s.
    But still she’s recognized as one of great musician in Korea is not only because of her singing talent. She’s an amazing composer too you know? What can you do with just a great voice but nothing good to sing? She composed most of her songs herself. And I even have to say most of her own composed song is my fav one.
    I accept the review avout her vocal ability. But for her overall performance as a musician? Please just learn more about music industry.
    I have seen many great singers with amazing vocals are shunted away just because they can’t find a good song to sing. Yet yes you guys mention Taylor Swift too above, got so many recognition for her song writing ability despite that she’s not much of a great singer.

    i’m sorry if I sound too offensive or smth. But I wasnt going to say anything about this review if I didnt see comments that triggered me to say all of this.

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    1. Oh Ariana is not much better than IU, she’s not a very good example of superior vocal technique at all actually. I understand how you feel though, one’s inability to sing with correct technique and to vocalize in a healthy way doesn’t necessarily demean their success or their influence as an artist, but it is something the vocalist themselves should be aware of for their own good. Being successful has never been about good singing, always been about the right song with the right voice with the right image at the right time. I don’t disagree with you though, it’s never been about the singing.

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  36. As a fan, pretty much agree with your summary despite how much I am biased by the tonal quality over the technique haha.

    Curious though, what is your take on vocal technique when it comes to singing while dancing? In general, I think her live performances tend to be at least on par with the studio versions (sometimes they go a bit heavy on the backup vocals/echo, but I think she doesn’t generally lip sync even for dance songs). Her dance songs also involve quite a bit of neck movement, which by my limited knowledge is bad posture for support.

    To be able to achieve this I would think that she must be doing at least “something” right, whatever that may be. I have read through the intro and some of your analyses but couldn’t find much about vocal technique in relation to being able to dance and sing, is there no relation?

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    1. I think fans make silly arguments about singing while dancing as if that had anything to do with vocal technique. It has to do with vocal stamina, but you wouldn’t condemn a ballad singer for losing their breath if they have to suddenly also add choreography to a song right? Idol dances are tiring and there’s absolutely no way you can focus on singing well when the choreographies are so intricate and demanding, even if not necessarily difficult there’s a lot of movement involved. That’s why we generally don’t rely on performances where the vocalists are dancing because that’s not fair to them. Being able to sing while dancing just has to do with stamina but IU’s issues are present both in studio and live, so if she sounds the same live while dancing as she does in studio, it still doesn’t really change anything because in studio the issues are still there.

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      1. Gosh you are quick with your replies. Sorta suspected it would be something along those lines, thanks for clearing it up for me. I would never argue based on this without an understanding of what it is haha, just that it’s always been a missing piece of the puzzle for me.

        Could you talk a bit more about what you mean by vocal stamina? Like is it just good cardio or just a matter of getting used to combining the two and developing the muscle memory?Haha I would never condemn anyone for not having that, don’t think I could hold a note if I walked slightly faster, let alone dance.

        Also, stuff like the clock motion in “You & I” is just screaming “bad posture” to me. Now it might just be that her studio version wasn’t done right to begin with, but are there ways in terms of technique to overcome these challenges or the two were never meant to cross paths? I use her songs as examples because I’m more familiar with them, but I’m sure it applies to many other idols.

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      2. It’s a mix of cardio and learning to do both at the same time. It does mean you’re probably in shape if you can do both at the same time. Well if you’re in shape and you have good technique, you can combine both to not be just a good technical vocalist in studio but also be able to bring it to a live performance too. The clock motion isn’t that bad really.

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    1. I guess that is kind of a broad statement isn’t it? lol. Well essentially it means she’s able to sing in-tune majority of the time meaning she doesn’t go flat or sharp very often and the pitch is stable.

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      1. It just means the voice rings, echoes and projects as opposed to sounding stuck in the vocalists throats.

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  37. Hi , 🙂 I’m an ARMY 🙂 and also IU’s huge fan ( I don’t know her fanclub name hehe )
    Thank you so much for doing this analysis 🙂 im very thankful that you did this analysis 🙂
    I’ve been such a huge fan of IU since really long time ago and I love her voice so much . I have a few questions , if you dont mind.
    Hm ,, I found IU’s voice really pretty and really nice to listen to . and I’m someone who has been practising singing actually and.. sometimes when I listen to her singing , I want to have voice like her., do you think it’s possible ? I’m currently having my vocal lessons and my coach taught me to focus on the technique rather than the style, when I let him listen to IU’s voice , he told me that her style is great and she might be lacking in the technique. do you think I can combine both the techniques that I’ve learned so far with her and Jungkook’s style ? I adore both of them and their voices so much 🙂 and if its not a bother , do you think you can give some tips on how to have a sweet , smooth and soft voice like IU’s or Jungkook’s ? I also have a problem with nasality even when I’m not singing , people tend to tease me for my nasal voice. When I sing , I don’t produce much airiness but when I speak normally , the nasality is still a problem . I’m a 19 year old girl actually 🙂
    my range would be somewhere around C3 ~ Eb5/E5 .
    my supported range would be around D3 ~ A4 .I hope this might be helpful ..
    정말 고맙습니다 🙂 많이 소고했어요 ^^ doing this must be so very tiring .

    Like

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