Another comeback yesterday was made by aespa, who returns with their mini-album since debut (titled Savage). The title track of the mini-album also shares the same name. This comeback follows the successful release of Next Level from earlier in the year. If you were to flick to that review, you may find that at the time of writing that review, I wasn’t much of a fan of Next Level. Fast forward a few months, and Next Level has grown considerably on me. I still don’t think highly of it as the rest of the world seems to do, but I have warmed up to the song through a lot of replaying. Let’s see how Savage fairs (keeping in mind that it may change down the track).
Honestly, I don’t think the song will grow on me whatsoever. I don’t think I have listened to a song with such a straight face before and where I had to dig my way through the song to figure out any positive aspects. So, it isn’t good at first glance. I did find some, but I think Savage is case of the bad outweighing the good. It is another song that seems to jam a lot into the four minutes of air time. There is so much change throughout the song, with each sequence feeling very different to every other sequence in the song. It is quite overwhelming. Savage begins with the most eye-rolling toned introduction in KPOP that I have heard. I hope this was intention, as it fits in with the title. Otherwise, I would be concerned. Metallic twangs and heavy bass form the basis of the first verse, with Karina and Giselle rapping. The verses were largely forgettable. Then, the pre-chorus comes in, bring vocals and (admittedly) a suspenseful energy that I liked. I like the rock influences (though I think they are more synths) we get here. While the climb to the chorus was good, I was utterly left down by the chorus. The anti-drop and the lackluster (and excitement killing) hook just didn’t work for me. We get more of a hip-hop influence in the second verse thanks to the added instrumentation and rapping, though there is that similar backing as the first verse. The second pre-chorus remains the same, while the second chorus adds extra percussion to ‘change it up’, though I am left with the same disappointment. We then get a vocally driven bridge, before we are lead into a very abrasive EDM dance break, an unfitting (but well executed) high note, and finally a messy and over complicated layered sequence to end the song. A prime example of how doing too much at once doesn’t look good. I have to say that the vocals and rapping throughout Savage definitely showed talent. That’s one of the positive aspects that I concluded with. And I feel the bridge and the rapping in the verses definitely showed this (despite the latter being unmemorable). Pity the music just didn’t come together cohesively (especially that ending).
While I don’t like the song, I did enjoy the music video. SM Entertainment has managed to outdo themselves with the production and quality of this particular music video. My favourite bit has to be any scene with the Black Mamba (the snake, not the song in this case) in them. The detail of the scales and the wrap around the members was so good. The rest of the music video was also riveting thanks to the post-production, CGI and camerawork. Aside from visuals, there is also the plot side to the video. Personally, I am not too sure of what the story line is, though my best guess is that the aespa members are still on a mission to reunite with their virtual counterparts. It is obvious that we are still in that SM cinematic universe, given that aespa are the main drivers of that universe. But it is quite confusing where the story is at now.
I liked the performance for this comeback as well. Firstly, it has attitude, which made complete sense to me given the title of the song. Secondly, it had intensity, which matches up with the song’s own intensity. But the best part has to be the dance break. The intensity and hand/arm work looks really cool and is definitely the peak of the performance.
Song – 5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7/10