aespa took the Drama to a Spicy Next Level, but there may be Better Things waiting [GOLDEN 2023]

Girl group aespa [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

Nicknamed the “Korean Grammys,” the 38th Golden Disc Awards will take place on Jan. 6 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to honor the passion and talent that shone bright in the world of K-pop during the year of 2023.

Organized by the JoongAng Group, the Golden Disc Awards is considered one of the most prestigious awards in Korea with its unique format where dozens of nominees and multiple winners are chosen for three main categories — music, album and rookie of the year.

In this series, Golden 2023, the Korea JoongAng Daily’s entertainment arm Celeb Confirmed looks at K-pop’s biggest and brightest stars who are potential nominees, and their achievements this year.

Now known for taking things to the "Next Level," girl group aespa’s out-of-this-world digital-slash-real concept shocked the audience at first. But if you do it enough times and do it well, then it becomes yours and yours only that no one can dare imitate.

aespa has been pushing for a cyber-soldier vibe ever since it debuted in November 2020 with the digital single “Black Mamba,” which is also well portrayed in the tracks that followed such as “Next Level” (2021) and “Savage” (2021).

The band then took a step closer to reality after “My World” released on May 8 this year, which came after the band’s agency SM Entertainment bid farewell to its founder Lee Soo-man earlier this year. Lee was known to have produced the girl group’s overall neo-digital theme.

Whether or not the tactic worked may be subject to different opinions, but in short — aespa sold 1.13 million copies of its latest EP “Drama,” released on Nov. 10, giving the girl group its third million-selling album in a row.

aespa recently met with fans in a meet and greet titled “My Drama” on Nov. 17 to celebrate the third anniversary of its debut.

Girl group aespa [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

“Drama” fills “My World”

“My World” was released on May 8 and was the first album to break away from its darker digital-warrior concept and take a U-turn into the bright and playful real world.

Rather than incorporating the "ae-" virtual members from its earlier days, “My World” went for the more approachable too-cool-for-you vibe that appealed to the younger generation, with lead track “Spicy.”

The EP sold 1.3 million copies on the first day and reached 1.7 million copies by the end of its first week, becoming the band’s second album to break 1 million. “My World” had sold over 2 million copies by the time two weeks had passed since its released.

Girl group aespa [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

The band also topped the Top Album Sales chart, Top Current Albums chart and the World Albums chart on Billboard and sat on No. 9 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

The quartet dropped its first original English track “Better Things” on Aug. 18 and recently dropped its fourth EP “Drama” on Nov. 10.

aespa “My World” (May 8, 2023)

  • First-week album sales of "My World": 1,698, 784
  • First-day streaming of lead track "Spicy" on Melon: 252,545
  • Music video views for “Spicy” on YouTube: 119,220,141 (as of Nov. 20)
  • Major nominations: 2023 MAMA Awards (Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Worldwide Fans’ Choice, Best Female Group, Best Dance Performance Female Group) 
  • Other: No. 9 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, No. 1 on Billboard Top Album Sales, Top Current Albums and World Albums charts

aespa “Drama” (Nov. 10, 2023)

  • First-week album sales of "Drama": 1,130,300
  • Music video views for “Drama” on YouTube: 55,585,191 (as of Nov. 20)