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'Savage' aespa fights against evil force on first EP

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K-pop girl group aespa poses during an online press event, Tuesday. Courtesy of SM Entertainment
K-pop girl group aespa poses during an online press event, Tuesday. Courtesy of SM Entertainment

By Dong Sun-hwa

Surprisingly, it has taken less than a year for rookie girl group aespa to become one of the most sought-after star acts in the cutthroat K-pop industry. The group's upcoming EP, "Savage," has hit 400,000 pre-orders as of Monday, and the music videos of its debut track, "Black Mamba," and its May release, "Next Level," have all gotten more than 100 million views each on YouTube.

The fact that the group was launched by SM Entertainment ― home to a myriad of big-name acts, like EXO and Red Velvet ― has partly contributed to its immediate success. However, its novel concept, involving digital avatars and a metaverse, a shared virtual space where users interact via avatars, seems to have played a more pivotal role in grabbing people's attention.

Since its debut last November, aespa has put out singles that revolve around its fictional universe, where the four human members ― Karina, Winter, Giselle and Ningning ― have digital entities as their alter egos.

In the case of "Black Mamba," the quartet encounters evil force "Black Mamba" in its music video. Then, in "Next Level," they head for "Kwangya" ― the home of their avatars ― to hunt down "Black Mamba," which has been attempting to separate the aespa members from their avatars. The next part of this story continues in the band's new song, "Savage," the lead single off aespa's namesake EP, which will hit shelves at 6 p.m., Tuesday (KST).

Aespa's first EP,
Aespa's first EP, "Savage," will come out at 6 p.m., Tuesday (KST). Courtesy of SM Entertainment
"In 'Savage,' we fight against 'Black Mamba' with the help of our assistant, 'Naevis,'" Giselle said during an online media conference, which took place a few hours before the release of the EP. "We have expanded our fictional universe this time… For instance, in one of our new tracks, 'aenergy,' all of us reveal what our combat skills and techniques are."

Ningning added, "Since we fight fiercely against a villainous creature in 'Savage,' we tried to make our performance look powerful and strong. Our avatars also appear in our music video."

Leader Karina elaborated, "The video has numerous eye-catching elements ― like graphics and animations ― that will help people immerse into our stories."

Winter said that people will feel like they are binge-watching a movie series, if they watch the music videos of "Black Mamba," "Next Level" and "Savage" in order.

Since "Savage" is aespa's first EP since its formation, the group features tunes of a number of styles so as to show its unexplored charms. For instance, "Savage" is a trap genre track peppered with powerful drum and bass sounds, while "Lucid Dream" is a sentimental pop song about a breakup. The album also carries four more numbers, including the addictive dance track, "I'll Make You Cry."

Winter revelaed that she was both nervous and thrilled to release aespa's first EP.

"To date, aespa has mostly shown our powerfulness and coolness," she added. "But this time, we want to showcase something more. Instead of being overwhelmed by the success of 'Black Mamba' and 'Next Level,' our members just poured more effort into making this new EP."

Karina wrapped up the session by talking about the group's goals.

"We want to show the public that aespa can pull off different styles, and that our universe can be expanded continuously," she said.

Dong Sun-hwa


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