For those in the world who have ever felt out of place and unappreciated, IU presents “Celebrity”. The pre-release ahead of her upcoming fifth album is an encouraging song about recognizing and loving your unique quirks. Though the message is nothing new, the MV for “Celebrity” is a creative and layered retelling of a clichéd lesson.
The lyrics read as a personal love letter to a friend, one who feels like an outsider ignored by the world. As almost everyone in the world can relate to having felt this way at one point in our lives we, the audience, are the friend that IU is cheering up and rooting for. The lyrics are creative but straightforward, and the MV for “Celebrity” features multiple interpretations that circle back to the main message of self-love and acceptance. The first (and most obvious) one is IU playing the role of a beloved but unhappy celebrity who goes on a search for happiness. Another message in the MV is that sometimes you need a little extra push to recognize your strengths and charm, and, as our friend, IU is willing to provide this nudge.
The narrative of “Celebrity” revolves around IU, a celebrity trapped despite her fame, who sets off to find her freedom and subsequent happiness. As a beloved celebrity, she wears glamorous dresses, is pampered day and night, and has paparazzi tailing her every move. As a star, she quite literally sparkles in these scenes, whether it be her accessories or her makeup. Despite the love she receives, IU is never smiling and upon second glance, she is trapped by the expectations of others. She sits in a pale pink room by herself while the shadows of eager paparazzi can be seen outside the room. Though the room offers privacy, it also boxes IU in. As a celebrity, she is expected to play a role that does not reflect who she is and the act is isolating. We see a dejected IU framed by a mirror as hands holding an assortment of makeup and hair tools further push her to a certain standard. We finally see her crack a smile as she closes the doors on her façade and steps back from the limelight.
Behind closed doors and away from mesmerized crowds, IU catches a glimpse of another woman who seems to hold the key to a brighter future. This mysterious woman is IU herself though she is differentiated by her comparatively casual clothes. Despite the almost run-in at the café and a chase through crowds, IU loses this mysterious woman and eventually has to return home without any further clues. From her bedroom window, all the lights flicker off, leaving IU enveloped in darkness and discouragement.
In the light of a new day, the woman reappears and in a final dash of hope IU is led to her final destination: a mirror. The scene is paralleled by the celebrity IU, donning a gorgeous red gown, breaking free from paparazzi and running off into the night. Before she does she flashes a knowing smile to the camera because now she knows what the audience has known the whole time – the secret to her happiness was herself the entire time.
In contrast to her own adventure, in the song, IU is addressing a friend painfully oblivious to their own uniqueness and ability to shine because of it.
It’s fine to take your time but I hope you notice, at last
The one and only
You’re my celebrity
Loving your own little quirks. Appreciating that having different talents and strengths is a part of being a unique individual. These are messages that everybody has heard though it can be hard to apply them to yourself which the MV thoughtfully demonstrates.
In the opening shot of “Celebrity”, IU sits on the ground with a blue cape around her shoulders. The cape is long and serves as a carpet for the ground around her as people stand on it, preventing IU from standing up. Of course, all she has to do is take off the cape, but again, sometimes we all need a little help to recognize the most obvious facts.
“Celebrity” avoids being cliché with a common message with creative but comforting execution. Through her dual roles in the MV as a giver and receiver of love and encouragement, IU once again establishes herself as a talented but approachable artist and builds anticipation for her album to come.