SISTAR is the biggest post-T-ara girl group in K-pop. For the most part they’ve done their best to keep their sound fresh without straying too far from their signature traits, but somehow they’ve earned a reputation among certain K-pop fans for being serial song recyclers like AOA.
The foursome’s new single, “Shake It,” is already being called a “Touch My Body” retread by some, despite both songs sharing different producers and sounds. “Touch My Body” took HyunA’s “Bubble Pop!” (and its source material, Britney’s “How I Roll”) and modernized the sound for 2014. “Shake It” is pure retro cheese wrapped in a rainbow flag, like Atomic Kitten covering Kool & The Gang’s “Ladies Night.”
If you listen with your eyes instead of your ears then you might find “Shake It” to be unoriginal because the lurid, booty centric concept is so similar to “Touch My Body,” but that’s the visuals, not the music. And the fact that SISTAR’s actually found their own distinctive tawdry, tacky, cartoony concept should be applauded–it’s certainly more creative than just dressing up in sexy cosplay outfits for the male gaze.
At its best, “Shake It” is like the greatest gay pride parade from 1980 you wish you could’ve gone to. At its worse its wedged between “My Sharona” and “YMCA” at a corny wedding reception, but even those songs only require a few drinks before you’re up and dancing like a damn fool.
I’m not sure where “Shake It” falls on my list of favourite SISTAR songs, but the group’s reached a place now where their music is always so consistently good that you can’t even rank it beyond two or three standout hits. That’s basically how I feel about Girls’ Generation, so for me this comeback has really cemented SISTAR’s spot in the top tier and highlighted just how much a group like AOA lacks in comparison. And I actually like AOA, but there’s a huge difference between being a superstar and being a trend, and SISTAR are most definitely superstars.