Generation Avex: IU’s Between the Lips

Between marathoning Pokémon X and getting excited over Halloween, I’ve been completely ignoring the music charts. To be honest, the way this week’s chart is laid out, maybe I should have ignored it a bit longer. Or at least expanded Generation Avex to include Jpop in addition to Kpop—they get a cool Halloween song! But that day is not today, no matter how much I wish it was. Instead, I have to deal with the slow-paced love songs and abnormally popular break-up songs of the Mnet chart. Though that description is entirely subjective, what’s not is that the charts this week are completely dominated by one songstress: IU. From the songs I’ve listened to, I don’t understand the popularity.

Despite that, for the most part, I do like her song Between the Lips (50 cm). Kind of.

Right off the bat, I appreciate the contradiction from music to lyrics. Between the Lips is all about wanting to take it slow, savoring the moments in a relationship before things get serious in a physical sense. Yet the music itself tells a very different story. The crooning jazzy tempo mixed with a slow and steady strumming from a bass gives more of a sense of a seduction song. It’s not a song about sending mixed messages: it’s a song about boundaries and recognizing them. Between the Lips’s protagonist sets up her boundaries in the first couplet:

Oh darling, don’t cross it
The distance between our lips is still 50cm

It’s still apparent that she wants to do whatever it is she’s holding off on, though. I think in many relationships this is something people struggle with; a desire to take things slow and see how things work out versus our more carnal desires. In this way, it’s probably about one of the most realistic relationship songs—if that’s even a correct way to classify it—I’ve ever heard.

Of course, this song isn’t without its own problems.

Between the Lips takes the unfortunate step of moving from a personal plight to shaming other girls for their relationship practices. It’s very quick and a bit subtle, but it’s still there.

Don’t make me into a common girl with sweet and obvious words
Save me for a little longer

They put this bit at the end, almost as though they knew it was bad and hoped the listeners would just skip over it. It sounds a little Taylor Swift-y, what with the way IU is bringing in the virgin-whore dichotomy like that. Throughout the entire song, she sets herself up as this woman who just wants to take things slow, which is all well and good, but at the expense of other girls. Just because other girls are in a relationship that may be moving faster doesn’t mean that they’re “common” (in this song, the implied meaning is ‘easy’). This line was completely unnecessary, which makes it even worse, and just serves to give its listeners this sense of smug satisfaction that they’re not like that type of girl.

I’ll give this song a 2.5 cm out of 5. In addition to having that shitty message at the end, the song is just kind of boring and unimpressive overall, just like the rest of IU’s songs. I like listening to it and it’s the type of song that’s perfect for zoning out to, but the music world would be no worse off if it didn’t exist.

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About Tsunderin

Greetings and salutations! Feel free to just call me Rin—we’re all friends here, or nemeses who just haven’t gotten to know each other well enough. I’m a video game lover from the womb to the tomb, and Bioware enthusiast until the day they stop making games with amazing characters that I cry over. And while I don’t partake as often as I used to, don’t be surprised to find me poking around an anime or manga every once in a while either. A personal interest for me is characterization in media and how women in particular have been portrayed, are being portrayed, and will be portrayed in the future. I’m not going to mince words about my opinion either.