IU’s musical strategy has been working for her commercially. In contrast to her peers, she’s maintained a constant presence on the charts since 2010:

Yet unlike BTS, whose album debuted at number one in the US charts, IU hasn’t yet made it big in the US, the world’s largest music market by sales (pdf). Her lack of international success could be a language issue, as another big contributor to IU’s popularity is the quality of her lyrics. She writes many of her own lyrics—another rarity in K-pop—and they are often thoughtful and profound. It could also be that, unlike the big boy and girl groups, she doesn’t bring the mesmerizing choreography and flashy outfits that appeal to a lot of international K-pop fans.

It’s their loss. IU just might be the best K-pop has to offer. For a sampling of IU’s best songs, listen to the playlist below.

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