IU, who was born as Lee Ji-eun ( May 16, 1993) is a South Korean singer and actress. Her stage name IU, is derived from "I and You" which symbolizes that we can become one through music.
IU debuted on a Korean music program called M! Countdown in September 18, 2008. On September 24, 2008, she released her first mini-album, Lost and Found, in which the most famous song was the title track, "Missing Child." However, the album was not commercially successful. It wasn't until her follow-up album that she succeeded in breaking into the mainstream.
On April 16, 2009, IU launched her first full album, titled Growing Up, with the lead promotional number "Boo." Within three weeks, "Boo" went up to the #1 contenders for SBS Inkigayo, and her name also went up twice on Take 7 together with other notable artists like SG Wannabe and Younha. The song also did well on KBS Music Bank K-Chart, on Mnet M!Countdown chart, and on various online music charts.
In 2009, IU sang the ending title song, "Araro", for the acclaimed MBC drama Queen Seon Duk, where she was recommended by the director, Sam Kim, citing her "clear tone and her lyrical sensibility." She was also featured on Mighty Mouth's album Love Class. In late 2009, IU recorded MC Mong's song "Love Letter For You (Neoyege Sseuneun Pyeonji)," featuring SHINee's Key as a rapper in the song.
IU recorded the song "Nagging / Scolded" with 2AM's Seulong for the TV show We Got Married. On June 27, 2010, IU won her first award since her debut on SBS Inkigayo for "Nagging." On July 2, 2010, she won another award for that song on KBS Music Bank K-Chart. Soon after, IU was chosen to sing the main OST song for the MBC drama Road No.1 titled "Because I'm A Woman". IU's other collaborations include duets with Yoo Seung Ho (Believe in Love), Sung Shi Kyung (It's You), and Big Bang's Seungri ("I Know").
IU worked with some of South Korea's most famous musicians and producers for her third mini-album, REAL, released in December 2010. Lee Min Soo and Kim Eana, the creators of IU's previous hit "Nagging", helped produce her award-winning song "Good Day"." IU received three SBS Inkigayo Mutizen awards for her performances of the song (on December 18 and December 26, 2010, and January 2, 2011), three awards from KBS Music Bank K-Chart (on December 24 and December 31, 2010, and January 7, 2011), and one award from Mnet M!Countdown on December 23, 2010.
IU often covers other pop artists' songs with her guitar and features her friend Thunder from MBLAQ, most notably renditions of SHINee's "Juliette," Big Bang's "Lies," Super Junior's "Sorry, Sorry" and Girls' Generation's "Gee."
Soribada, an online music service, combined the music downloads and streams from January 1 to March 30, 2011, to name IU's song, "Good Day" as the number one song of the first quarter. Her song "Someday" from the KBS Drama Dream High OST and her ballad "The Story Only I Didn't Know" placed 4th and 7th place, respectively – showing that IU got 3 of the top 10 digital spots for the first quarter. Her first original composition, "Dreaming" was used in the drama "Dream High", but not released officially.
On June 18, 2011, IU held her first official fanmeeting and mini-concert at AX-Korea. It also marked the 1004th day since she debuted.
IU also sang a self-composed OST called "Hold my Hand" for drama series The Greatest Love.
On November 29, 2011, IU's second full length album Last Fantasy was released and achieved an ‘all-kill’ as all 13 songs immediately swept most of all the charts. The track list was revealed on November 22, 2011.
On January 24, 2012, IU held a live showcase at Tokyo's Bunkamura Orchard Hall. On March 1st, 2012, she released a promotional video for the Japanese version of "Good Day", the title track of her Japanese single album. The album, which includes DVD footage from the showcase, was later released on March 21, 2012.
In early April, 2012, it was announced that IU will be holding her first solo tour, "Real Fantasy", starting in June. The tour features performances in six different cities across South Korea, including Seoul and Busan.
IU released the single album, Spring of a Twenty Year Old , on May 11th, 2012. The album contains three songs, one of which is self-composed by IU. This song, entitled "Peach" , was digitally released before the album, on May 4th, 2012. A 26-minute-long documentary-style music video film was released alongside the album, featuring several interviews with IU that showcase her personal thoughts and experiences. This film contains footage of IU as she visits Venice, Italy.
IU has secured a number of endorsement deals, including the 2011 UNIONBAY clothing line (with Seo In-Kook), MyChew candy, and the action-riding game The Story of My Horse and I, Alicia. In 2011, IU became the next pop star spokesmodel for Mexicana Chicken. Samsung selected IU to represent their Anycall brand, previously endorsed by such stars as Lee Hyori, BoA, and Junki, stating "we believe that [IU] has the potential to create a big bang within the industry.". In the same year, IU endorsed for SK Telecom, Namyang Dairy, S-Oil, Home Plus, Y'SB, Le Coq Sportif, Elite school uniforms, and was chosen to be the ambassador for Yeosu Expo Korea 2012. In 2012, IU secured the endorsement deals for G by Guess and cosmetics brand, The Saem as well.
In August 2009, IU became a host for the new program Gom Music Chart on GomTV, a weekly show where South Korean netizens vote for their favorite songs on the charts. For a time, IU became a fixed guest on Super Junior's Kiss the Radio, Maybee's Raise the Volume, and MBC's Starry Night (hosted by Park Kyung-lim and Shin Young) and Chin Chin Radio (hosted byTaeyeon). Upon Taeyeon's departure, she was chosen as a temporary DJ for two weeks together with B2ST member Doojoon. IU is currently the VJ for MBC Game's Star for You. In October and November of 2010, IU introduced the competing players in season 2 of GomTV's Global Starcraft II League. IU is also one of twelve original female cast members chosen for the SBS variety show Heroes.
IU took up a role as Kim Pil Suk in the KBS 2TV teen drama series Dream High.
On February 6, 2011, it was announced that IU would be a guest performer for British contemporary jazz & soul singer, Corinne Bailey Rae, during her 1st Korean concert. She was also featured in K-Will's music video for his song "My Heart is Beating" along with MBLAQ's Lee Joon and Boyfriend's No Minwoo.
Between May and July in 2011, IU attended the filming for SBS's Kiss & Cry, where celebrities show off their figure skating skills. However, she was eliminated in Episode 8.
IU performed at the 2011 GSL Blizzard Cup finals, with the songs "Good Day" and "You and I". This is not the first time she would be involved in the GSL, as she also did the voice over for the player introductions and openers in previous seasons as well.