Reviewish: SISTAR – “I Like That” Sets A Pretty Accurate Bar For Itself

sistar i like that

At this point, the four member K-Pop behemoth that helped usher in the (still currently) sexy era of K-Pop known as SISTAR has two very well-worn gears. The first gear is SISTAR’s summer jam, pool party sound, a genre unto itself that the group has pretty much slayed over the past three years (“Touch My Body,” “I Swear” and “Loving U” comfortably fit in this category). SISTAR’s second gear is less easily defined but it nevertheless is fairly easy to recognize. The sound is darker and more dramatic, there’s usually some horns sprinkled about to complement Hyorin’s voice and there is an undeniable layer of decadence to the production (Think “Alone,” “Give It To Me” and SISTAR19’s “Gone Not Around Any Longer“). SISTAR’s latest comeback “I Like That” squarely falls into the second category. While I personally enjoy SISTAR’s first gear more than it’s second, “I Like That” is yet another fine example of what makes SISTAR such an appealing group (Hyorin) and why they remain one of K-Pop’s most consistent acts (Hyorin).

Before getting to the positives of “I Like That,” it cannot be stressed enough that the comeback does have a few noticeable flaws. A few, such as Dasom’s comparably average contribution and Bora’s ho-hum rap delivery, are as baked into the SISTAR formula as Hyorin’s dominance on the choruses and hooks. It certainly doesn’t help matters that the single’s most disjointed moments occur during the Dasom verse into Bora rap, where “I Like That” seems to rob itself of some pretty well-paced momentum. Then there’s the music video, which falls back on familiar dance-in-a-box territory with it’s disappointingly cookie-cutter direction and set pieces. It’s basically an SM Entertainment production with a deeper shade of pink.

However, as sub-par as those elements are, the rest of “I Like That” more than makes up for them. The production (outside of the aforementioned Dasom verse and Bora rap) does a great job of constructing a SISTAR-ian banger of dancing horns, thumping bass and rollicking percussion that takes full advantage of the fact that the song is able to employ singers (Hyorin and Soyu) who don’t welter under the sheer booming volume that is being thrown their way (It is unfair to the rest of the genre that SISTAR gets BOTH Soyu and Hyorin). The choruses, while not particularly addictive, are pretty strong and definitely danceable. And as for the video, as seen-it-before as the direction and editing are, SISTAR themselves bring so much damn kinetic sex appeal to “I Like That” that they basically lift up the whole damn MV by themselves. Bora, Hyorin, Soyu and Dasom visually slaughter this comeback.

None of this is surprising. SISTAR was at the forefront of the sexy K-Pop movement and the group will likely leverage horns and prominent bass lines as long as Hyorin deems SISTAR worth her time. The group has essentially found a couple of concepts that they do better than nearly anyone else (the summer break road trip and the sexy vaudeville-disco hybrid), a fact that has to be the envy of nearly every other K-Pop group out there (Hell, most groups would love to have one distinct style) and “I Like That” nestles within SISTAR’s very respectable discography. Judged against the rest of SISTAR’s catalog, “I Like That” is a standard SISTAR comeback. It doesn’t reach some new height that the group hasn’t hit before nor does it break new ground that the group hasn’t covered. On that basis, it’s a bit lukewarm. However, even a lukewarm SISTAR summer release has the power to be pretty damn sizzling on its own and “I Like That” neatly fits that bill. With “I Like That,” K-Pop’s summer has officially arrived.

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7 comments

  1. I’m going to be weird and say that this is actually one of my favourite Sistar songs ever, although I haven’t heard many.

    1. I can’t put it among my SISTAR favorites (mostly because I have a bunch) but this is definitely one of the more solid group releases so far this year.

    2. A very solid quality release. IMHO, it’s harder to pull something like this off than those summer songs. Enjoy them while they last. I’m going to miss the likes of groups like this when SISTAR (eventually) goes the way of 4Minute.

  2. Other than Mamamoo and SPICA it would be hard to find a group that is deeper vocally than Sistar. It’s barely fair to the girl group genre to have a solo-class talent like Hyorin fronting the group’s vocals, but then to have Soyu as the #2 is patently unfair as Soyu could be the lead in many groups.

    I feel a bit bad for Bora. Hyorin going onto that rap contest last year put a spotlight on the fact that Bora is not even Sistar’s best rapper (Hyorin could do that as she has the soloist total package of singing, rapping, and dancing). Bora even admitted she needed to step up her rap game last year in an interview and it was pretty clear that was probably because Hyorin’s to that point hidden talent had exposed her as the typical K-pop case of “We have a hot dancer auditioning, how do we fit her in the group, make her the rapper.”

    Dasom isn’t a bad singer, but she clearly isn’t in Soyu’s or Hyorin’s league and that stands out like a sore thumb in an ensemble act. Either you have to cut her lines or you have to write very specifically for her. Typically they use something soft and high for her as that contrasts with Soyu and Hyorin’s huskier voices.

    I think part of the problem is that composers who get to work with Sistar have a bit of a hard time writing with talents like Soyu and Hyorin in mind (You want to show that talent off) and then have to find something that Bora can rap and Dasom can sing in the same song. Sometimes, like in “Alone,” they do that really well (Dasom has a nice singing part in that song) and other times it is more of a struggle.

    I wonder if Hyorin or the album producer trolls Bora by having Hyorin record Bora’s raps and then playing them back when Bora is about to do her part in the studio.

    Fortunately Bora and Dasom seem to understand their roles in the group and don’t seem to want to press for bigger roles. Dasom seems to be comfortable using her idol status in a top group to land acting roles in the hope of making that her long-term career. Bora seems to realize too that MC’ing TV shows and some acting are probably her best prospects post-Sistar. At least they don’t publicly grouse about the size of their parts and seem pretty happy they benefit from all the group’s success. It’s not like they make no contribution.

    Regardless as you said, this group has two niches that they shine in musically and do better than nearly all their peers and they make sexy visuals seem effortless and natural which some groups never pull off as they look personally uncomfortable doing sexy or it almost seems forced or like it is meant to be satirical.

    I was glad to see Sistar take a step away from what had seemed to become an annual summery song.

  3. YSR & Kent nailed it. Well done .

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