SM Entertainment and its newest K-pop act aespa are ready for the “Next Level,” as the girls’ latest song proves.
The group’s newest single is a remake of A$ton Wyld’s “Next Level,” which was part of the movie soundtrack for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, and the new version transforms the track into a hip-hop dance song to showcase the SM style performance. Their music video and catchy choreography have gotten a lot of attention too, and you can look no further than the Billboard charts to see just how popular the all-female act is. Released May 17, “Next Level” debuted at No. 33 on the Billboard K-Pop 100 chart and raced to secure the No. 5 spot the following week. The song has so far peaked at No. 2 and has stayed in the top five for weeks. It also ranked at No. 65 on the Billboard Global 200 and No. 3 on the World Digital Song Sales, proving their international popularity.
The original song has all the traditional and familiar elements of a hip-hop movie soundtrack, including moderate speed and rhythmic percussion, whereas aespa re-created their version with a higher pitch and more accentuated composition. Another unique element found in the song is its continuation of the SM Culture Universe. To truly comprehend this concept, one needs to have a good understanding of the act’s previous single “Black Mamba” and their alter egos “ae,” as well as the terms KWANGYA and SYNK. “Black Mamba” is one who disturbs aespa and ae’s SYNK, descending the world into chaos. KWANGYA is a world that exists beyond the virtual FLAT where the avatars live. aespa’s fandom is named “MY,” which means the most precious friend in the wilderness of the avatar aespa.
All four members — Winter, Karina, Ningning and Giselle — have what it takes to be in an idol group. Their first single, “Black Mamba,” debuted at No. 33 on the K-Pop 100, peaked at No. 21 and has never been off the chart since. While the group’s concept was initially tough to grasp, as more fans rallied around the girls, the concept became clearer.
The fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has amassed such a huge fanbase by consistently releasing films based on comics and building a unique fictional world could be an inspiring reference for aespa and the SM Culture Universe. If they continue to release songs that are as strong as the first two singles, more and more fans will become mesmerized with aespa’s fictional world. With K-pop reaching staggering heights of popularity across the world, having a powerful fictional world with captivating stories has become essential in the market, where more opportunities are possible with the rise of the metaverse. K-pop is reaching its next level across the world, and aespa is on the frontlines of futuristic girl groups.