Back in 2015, IU released the song “Twenty-three” in cohesion with her own 23rd birthday. During the time of release, IU received great amounts of hate and criticism for the song and music video. While her music video faced accusations of using a “lolita” concept, which is where childlike elements are sexualized, her lyrics (very ironically, might we add) were criticized for being a critique on the public and media.
To provide some context, in the same year, IU had revealed her relationship with her then-boyfriend, indie singer Jang Ki Ha. Her album, Chatshire, was also heavily criticized for the song “Zeze” as sexualizing a child and plagiarism of the book My Sweet Orange Tree.
In some ways, perhaps “Twenty-three” was indeed IU’s way of telling the media and public that they did not know who she was truly, but it also was an expression of the fact that at 23, IU herself probably did not know who she was or who she wanted to be.
I’m 23, I’m a riddle. Try to guess what I am. I’m 23, don’t get it wrong, because I’m very sensitive. Which one am I, you can’t tell just from my face, it’s so simple to put on an expression different from how I truly feel. Which one am I, to be honest I don’t know either, but I’ve never told a single lie before.
— “Twenty-three”, IU
Belatedly, many fans who are now on the cusp of 23 themselves, finally understand the song. Reportedly, “Twenty-three” shoots up the music charts every new year. This is as Korean age moves up by years rather than your actual birthday. The minute the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Day, you are a year older.
스물셋 새해만 되면 차트 역주행하는 이유:
“아이유 스물셋을 첨 들었을때 아이유씨가 많이 심란한갑다 했는데 스물셋이 되고야 알았다 걍 스물셋이 ** 심란한 나이구나 ..”
심란한 오천만 스물셋들이 비장하게 스밍돌림 pic.twitter.com/NVNCQ9WiN3
— 앗디 (@hi__atti) October 22, 2021
In a tweet that has gone viral many times every new year, fans have been realizing the same thing.
When I first heard IU’s “Twenty-three”, I thought that IU must’ve been feeling very confused but now that I’ve turned 23, I know it now. 23 is just a f*cking confusing age… I’m a riddle… what is it, guess… Don’t get it wrong… I’m very sensitive…
— Viral uncredited tweet
Even in 2021, many people can’t help but relate.
- “That’s right, it was exactly like that back then.”
- “I agree… I’m 23 this year and it’s a year where confusion peaks and there’s lots of this and that.”
- “IU’s age series is the best.”
- “It was confusing because at that age finding a job becomes reality..”
- “Actually I was the most confused during job hunting season at 25. I think that the lyrics are a little more adult-ish than for 23. That’s why I only could relate a year later.”
- “Every year I get confused over a new reason.”
- “This is so true.”
“Twenty-three” is and will forever be a legendary bop! Relive it below.