The aespa wave has fully crashed onto US sand, having flown into New York City to give the first-ever performance by a K-pop girl group at GMA’s Summer Concert Series just this morning.
They started off their historic appearance with a choreographed dance routine to the title track off their latest mini-album Girls, a dark and brooding pop song with growling bass that lurks beneath orchestral flourishes and their massive group vocals before the track devolves into a full-on dubstep breakdown.
Gone this time around is the elastic percussion that permeated through their 2021 debut mini-album Savage, traded in for production that’s way more pop in the traditional sense of the word, but not without the gritty synths and industrial sensibilities that have defined their sound up to this point.
Tracks on the new mini-album like “Illusion” and “Black Mamba” are mind-melting bangers surrounded by scattering hi-hats and chopped up vocal samples all cooked up to perfection. Other highlights like “Lingo” and “Dreams Come True” are as danceable as they are avant-garde, making for an end product that feels like it would be heard booming from a dystopian club in the year 2122.
Girls also sees aespa venture into more organic textures, ditching the synthetic production on “Life’s Too Short,” which sounds like a heartfelt ballad until the English version makes it clear that it's actually about dissing the haters and being yourself in spite of them. Just as the mini-album is about to close, “Forever” switches up the pace again, bringing in a sentimental guitar solo drenched over haunting violins to show yet another side of the versatile K-pop group.
aespa has snatched a licensing deal with Warner Records for the new mini-album, quickly turning the K-pop group into an international phenomenon. They racked up a mind-blowing 1.6 million pre-orders for Girls, blowing past the record for most pre-orders for a girl group release, which was previously set at a ridiculously high bar of 1,028,888 by BLACKPINK in 2020.
aespa has been no stranger to record breaking over the years though, having had the biggest music video debut of any K-pop group with their song “Black Mamba,” which hit 100 million views in just 52 days. They then broke that record again, with their third ever single “Next Level” having hit the milestone in just 32 days.
The release of Girls marks almost two years since aespa's debut, having been released into the world by SM Entertainment in 2020 as a part of their SM Culture Universe with members Karina, Giselle, Winter and Ningning.
Each member has a virtual counterpart and an accompanying avatar; and even though they live in the metaverse, the group has a massive emphasis placed on sustainability in the real world, and delivered a speech about the subject to the United Nations earlier in the week on Tuesday.
It’s clear that as we get closer and closer to the reality of their metaverse home, we also get closer and closer to their domination of both it and the real world. The K-pop world has a new leader and life’s too short to not embrace them.
Photo courtesy of SM Entertainment