Sistar: A Crime Worse than Plagiarism

Sistar: "I Swear"

After the release of their music video, “I Swear,” Sistar has come under fire from netizens who insist that the girl group plagiarized Tiesto’s “Red Lights.” But we’re not here to defend Sistar. No, we’re here to suggest that everyone is upset for the wrong reasons.

Did They Plagiarise?

Netizens have pointed to similarities between “Red Lights” and “I Swear” as proof of plagiarism on Sistar’s part. And they have some valid points. The restaurant scene (and subsequent sexy walk) seems like a direct lift from Tiesto’s music video.

Sistar vs. Tiesto

After Bora walks out on her job, however, the plagiarism claim largely falls apart. Yes, the women in both videos jump in a swimming pool, show us a bit of underwear, and wash a car. As do women in, like, every video. These occurrences are so common in music videos in every culture that a more interesting question is to ask why we sexualize the female body in these three distinct ways.

Plagiarism? Please. The only valid claim netizens have is Bora working her sexy-walk while removing her apron. But this isn’t plagiarism. This is, what we call in the music biz, a riff. It’s an homage, if you like, or a call back. Sistar is calling back to a video that inspired them. But seriously, we’re not here to defend Sistar. What they’ve done, we think, is much worse than plagiarizing Tiesto.

A Crime Worse than Plagiarism

Sistar: "I Swear"

Do you remember when Sistar was one of the most innovative Kpop groups out there? Yeah, we don’t either. When was that? The last innovative thing they did was to drop two members so they could make an extra buck off of Hyorin and Bora in the Sistar19 subgroup. Forget plagiarism. Sistar’s most grievous crime is that they are on cruise control, and have been all year.

“Touch My Body” was hardly what we would expect from a seasoned Kpop group. The music video was a summer snooze, with unimaginative choreography and shallow aegyo. And the song is maybe best described as sounding a lot like a Sistar song.

Sistar: "Touch My Body"

Worse still is “I Swear,” a direct copy of Sistar’s summer song from two years ago, “Loving U.” It’s hard to understand why fans are so caught up in Sistar plagiarizing Tiesto, when the worse crime is that they are now plagiarizing themselves. Both Sistar videos featured little more than the women wandering around beach resorts, with so little content in either video that a more accurate synopsis is not possible. The biggest difference between the two singles is that “Loving U” elongated the notes at the end of the line, and “I Swear” at the front. Otherwise, we’re looking at a re-release.

And where is the netizen outrage over that? Why are we all caught up on accusing Sistar of plagiarism when they are going through motions, failing to produce anything close to new and engaging music? We’re not worried about Tiesto, we’re worried about Sistar. About Kpop.

Where is the Sistar that shook things up with “So Cool,” that showed us their classy sexiness in “Alone?” Where’s the Sistar that brought comedy to vaudeville in “Give It to Me?” On vacation, maybe. At a beach resort, most likely, wandering around. We hope they come back from that island they’ve been marooned on, and start producing and innovating again. Because we can’t handle another year like 2014.


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