A sequel to 2015’s “Twenty-Three,” where she similarly addressed her burgeoning sexuality and adulthood, “Palette” showcases IU’s identity as a popular singer who rose to fame as a girlish teenager and is now ready to mature despite the ups and downs of her career. While in the former track IU sang about being a riddle-like woman in-between, this new single shows an artist filled with self-love and confidence: “I like it, I’m 25,” she sings in the chorus, later adding, “I got this.”
After expressing herself while showing that she's both changed (she prefers dark purple over hot pink) and stayed the same (she still loves Corinne Bailey Rae), IU is joined by G-Dragon. The rapper offers up inspiration and words of wisdom to IU based on his own experience (“When I’m just me, I shine the brightest”) as he’s already entered his 30s. (The song reflects Korea’s age system, where G-Dragon is 30 and IU is 25, even though internationally they are 28 and 23, respectively.) Almost as if breaking character, G-Dragon addresses IU by her given name -- Jieun -- rather than her stage name as if to redirect the listener’s attention to the fact that “Palette” is indeed the artist’s personalized message rather than just another typical, manufactured pop song.
The music video for “Palette” furthers the song’s message, contrasting the IU of 2017 with her past self. To counter her former clean cut image, “Palette” shows the singer exploring her coming-of age persona through a variety of styles including bright pink hair, boyish blazers, and a retro skirt suit, all of which sharply differ with a depiction of IU as her 18-year-old self performing her break-out 2010 hit, “Good Day.”
As she continues to vacillate between adulthood and youth, the singer is seen playing with games and toys, kissing a statue, singing karaoke and dancing on her own, all while messages pop up on screen to reflect her anxieties and emotions: A street sign saying “don’t touch,” a colorful notebook with the words “everyday happy” in bright hues, and a computer pop up asking, “Do you know this? Everyone hates you?” with the only options of choice being “I know” and “me too.” Though “Twenty-Three” was IU’s declaration of adulthood, “Palette” is the artist’s affirmation of self-confidence and a successful ode of coming into oneself.
The reflective “Palette” was co-written by IU and Lee Jong-hoon, while IU and G-Dragon wrote the lyrics. It’s one of two songs on Palette that the singer composed, along with “Can't Love You Anymore.” IU also acted as the album’s primary lyricist. The ten-track Palette, released on April 21, is IU’s first full-length album since 2013’s Modern Times.
Watch the music video for “Palette” here: