The Show Goes On With Sunmi's 'Gashina' Sequel 'Heroine' Despite Plagiarism Concerns

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Sunmi "Heroine" 

Last year, Sunmi’s “Gashina” served up a surprise hit in South Korea, where the former Wonder Girls member solidified her solo career as one of K-pop’s most dynamic soloists. Now she’s back with a fitting follow-up to that 2017 track in the form of “Heroine.”

Inspired by Britpop and tropical house, “Heroine” was released on Thursday (Jan. 19). It's Sunmi’s fourth single since pursuing a solo career in 2013, and her second since Wonder Girls broke up last year.

Described by the singer as a prequel to the heartbreak of “Gashina,” the optimistic, yet angst-riddled "Heroine" describes the singer as telling her love to be themselves, regardless of how it ends up making her feel at the end of the day. “Do whatever you want/ Even if you're mean, And you make me sad you need to be yourself,” she declares, a reversal from the bitter, questioning empowerment of “Gashina,” within which Sunmi demanded to know how her lover could break her heart. The song shifts between softer and more dramatic moments, dropping electronic blips and brassy beats beside a piano-and-synth atmospheric melody while Sunmi’s vocals vacillate between mellow sentimentality and passionate intensity.

Well known for her performance style, Sunmi’s latest music video -- created by Sunmi and YG Entertainment in-house producer Teddy Park, as well as producer 24 -- is a sharply-produced work that emphasizes both the song’s choreography and the singer’s vocals. “Heroine” starts with the Korean star performing a dance on her own that spirals into a duet with a partner, but only focuses on her singing once she pops onto a stage, the latter a reference to the song’s lyrics declaring her love like that of a movie where the hero is her partner rather than Sunmi herself.

Flitting between performances venues and creative outfit swaps, Sunmi alternates between self mockery and exuding confidence as faces the camera with piercing stares, vulnerable glances and exaggerated smiles, as if she’s mocking her own words as she’s putting herself into a position to be hurt. "Heroine" ends with her pointing her hand like a gun at a billboard that declares "the show must go on," as a reference to the dance move that made "Gashina" go viral. 

Upon its release, the single topped Korean music charts, following up the success of “Gashina," but the hypnotizing song has since come under fire in South Korea, where there are concerns that the song plagiarized Cheryl Cole’s 2009 track “Fight For Love,” her first solo track outside of her releases with Girls Aloud. The two songs share near-identical melodies, and there are some stylistic choices in the music video that appear to be inspired by Cole’s. Many have taken to addressing the concerns through videos that compare Cole and Sunmi’s work on YouTube, while others have begun to ask for clarification on Sunmi’s Instagram account and the single’s music video. As of Friday afternoon, the Korea Herald reported that Sunmi's agency was investigating the concerns but had offered no clarification regarding the claims, leaving it unknown whether the song was an intentional homage or remake of the earlier song, which is not unheard of in K-pop. 

Watch the music video for “Heroine” here: