Early this year Lim Jeong Hee had a nice little diva moment with the first single under her new label, “Crazy.” Now she’s back again with another pop/rock ballad, “I.O.U“, and so far I’m loving the direction her new management is taking her.
The first thing that stands out to me about this is the lovely bounce in the guitar that really adds a nice reggae-esque groove to the overall track. I really enjoy that the guitar and snare drum come in so early on, too, as to give opportunity for highlighting different parts of the melody when their presence is cut off. While this is definitely the driving force in the instrumental, the melody holds on its own. It shows off her range without ever feeling burdensome and every transition from verse to bridge feels clean and effortless. As much as I’ve enjoyed some songs that use the recent trend of harsh and eclectic transitions of noisy EDM and bold bass drops, this song was a nice refreshing reminder of how beautiful a song can be when it’s simply put together well. There’s no gimmicks or trends present here, and it doesn’t need them.
I also appreciate that just as the instrumental didn’t follow a paint-by-numbers sappy ballad arrangement, neither did the subject matter. Lim participated in the writing of these lyrics, and it’s all about being thankful for the love she receives from her man who looks at her as “a queen.”
The music video, however, really isn’t anything to write home about. I’m not necessarily bothered by it, but it is just shots of her singing “in the studio” using the most of their lighting kit as possible.
I can only assume budget was an issue. They definitely did the best they could, and considering I’ve seen way more offensive and boring videos within this vein, this doesn’t seem all that bad. I would simply hope if their budget allowed for more, they would have done something with it.
This is definitely one of the best ballads of the year for me. The melody and arrangement of the song are simply great, and among Korean ballads it’s a standout. There’s very few that attempt to go outside the “sappy and sad” route as it is. A lesser vocalist could’ve pulled this off, too, but thankfully her beautiful voice is the cherry on top to finish off this wonderful delight.